Six Steps For Successful Email Subject Lines

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Posted on Jul 4th 2012

How many emails do you receive each day? And how many of those do you actually open? When you’re scanning your inbox each morning, chances are it’s the email subject line that determines which emails you open and which you send straight to your trash can. That’s a pretty important 50-something characters. 

Next time you’re composing an email marketing campaign, use these tips to create an attention grabbing subject line that will help get your message read by the people that matter.  

1. Make sure it’s deliverable

If you want to increase open rates, there are essentially two kinds of filter you have to get through. The first is your reader’s own inbuilt natural spam detector that they put into action each time they glance over their inbox, and the second is actual computerised spam filter programs. To get past both, you should avoid clichéd spammy phrases like “reminder” “act now” and “limited time only.” Don’t shout at your readers by using all capitals, and curb your use of exclamation points, which can also come across as spammy.  

2. Keep it actionable

Much like a call to action, your subject line should inspire excitement in your readers and drive them to do something. A good way to create this sense of urgency is to use verbs. For example, “Relax at our Indulgent New Spa” is more actionable than simply “New Spa Now Open.”  

3. Personalise

Provide value to your readers by tailoring your subject line to speak directly to their individual needs. If you’ve used email segmentation to categorise your contact list, you’re already halfway there! For example, if you have a segmentation for guests who stayed last February 14th, a subject line that reads “Enjoy a Romantic Break With Us This Valentine’s Day” will increase the value of that email for the recipients.   

4. Clarity 

Witty subject lines are fun, but can your reader actually tell what they will get if they open your email? If you want your message read, clarity is key. Consider using keywords at the start of your subject line and remember to keep things simple and to the point.  

5. Keep it Short 

A good guideline for length is 50 characters or fewer. This will ensure that as much of the subject line as possible displays in the email pane (this is particularly important on mobile devices) and make your readers more likely to hit ‘open’ than ‘delete’ when scanning their inbox.  

6. Consistency

Whatever you promise in the subject line should be delivered in the contents of the email. As a consumer, imagine receiving an email with a subject line that advertises 50% off all furniture, only to find it only applies to beds. This bait and switch technique is frustrating and will ultimately lead to lower open rates and higher unsubscribe rates.  

Get creative with your email subject lines for the best results. Try out different word orders, different offers and new verbs to see which combinations are most successful with your guests. 

Have you experimented with your email subject lines?

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