Email Marketing can be one of the most profitable digital marketing practices, but only when it’s done correctly. One incredibly important part of a successful email blast is having a strong subject line.
The role of the subject line is to grab attention and encourage people to open your email.
If Email Marketing is a fishing trip, then the subject line is your lure. The subject line determines if your email will be opened, just as a lure may get a fish to bite.
What’s the difference between good and bad subject lines? Here are some general guidelines to follow.
Subject Line Guidelines
1. Consider the perspective of your subscribers
This is the golden rule of email marketing. Give your subscribers what they want or they will leave. Before sending an email blast, ask yourself if the content would be perceived as valuable to them. When you address the needs of your subscribers, they will click more often.
2. Keep your subject lines short and sweet
Less is more. People scroll through their inboxes very quickly, so you have to convey your message fast to catch readers’ attention. The more concise your message is, the faster it will be received. Conveying your message quickly is the key to standing out.
3. Establish incentive to click
Don’t give away all the information in your subject line! If your subscribers get all the information they need to know in the subject line, they will have no reason to click-through.
A good movie trailer won’t spoil the plot; otherwise nobody would bother seeing it. The same is true with a subject line, your goal is to get a click, so don’t ruin their incentive to do so.
4. Avoid using caps or exclamation points
Using ALL CAPS and exclamation marks in your subject lines will increase content spam score and hurt the chances of your emails being placed in the inbox. Plus they make emails look spammy so people will be less likely to open.
Don’t believe us? Check your spam folder and tell us what you see in the comments.
5. Segment your audience for maximum relevancy
The impact of your subject lines will decide whether people open your emails or not. Generic subject lines don’t get noticed because they don’t resonate with anyone. Make the subject lines relevant to your subscribers by segmenting your lists.
Let’s say your company distributes golf balls to big retailers and small sporting goods stores. The promotions will vary significantly because these two types of buyers purchase in different quantities.
In this case, you would create a promotion for each group and send them accordingly. Now instead of everyone getting one promotion that will only appeal to some, the big retailers can get an offer for 2M golf balls, while the small businesses can get a deal for 100K golf balls.
Sending relevant promotions creates more opportunities for more sales!
6. Use numbers
Numbers tend to communicate messages faster and more directly and because we process numbers faster, we are more inclined to pay attention.
Let’s face it. “25% off cell phone cases” delivers the message better than “cell phone case sale”. So be as direct as possible to get a higher response rate!
7. Use emojis
Using emojis appropriately will add some fun to someone’s inbox. We’re used to seeing them in our text messages and social media newsfeeds, but less often in our dry, boring inboxes. For this reason, emojis can increase engagement.
Be sure not to overuse emojis. Their effectiveness comes with their surprise and too many will water down the effect and decrease clicks.
8. Be fun and entertaining
Boring emails will always be ignored.
Exciting and unexpected subject lines will grab your readers’ attention. So don’t be afraid to use a pun, or experiment with a more casual tone than normal.
Most people enjoy a little humor, especially if it takes them away from their busy day for a few seconds. They also tend to put people in a better mood, which can increase engagement and overall impression of your brand.
9. Implement your brand with your messaging
Your brand’s identity is crucial when it comes to subscribers recognizing and engaging with your subject lines. Maintain a cohesive messaging strategy to remind customers of your brand, even if they don’t open the email. This will build a better customer relationship and establish brand loyalty.
10. Avoid repeating the same subject lines too often
Some subject lines outperform others and we LOVE using them. At the same time, overexposure to the same message will cause subscribers to get bored and eventually ignore them. Imagine if a comedian used the same punch line for all of their jokes? The audience would lose interest really fast and that’s what happens in email.
We suggest saving your most successful subject lines for the biggest promotions, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
11. Ask relevant questions
Questions are known to get people thinking. This is because questions in themselves are incomplete, which can entice people to want to learn more. This is especially true if it’s a relevant question to the subscribers. Chances are they’ll want the answer to the question, which will cause them to click.
12. Make your preview text count
Whether your emails are seen from a desktop or mobile device, they have a limited number of characters as preview text (varies by email client). Every character of preview text is an opportunity to convince your reader to open your email. Add context to the subject line, along with any other important details that may not have fit in the subject line.
13. Get personal
Personalizing subject lines is a great way to increase clicks because the messages feel more direct. Personalization (like including their first name) adds a unique touch while establishing a conversational tone. It also helps to change the sender name to a familiar member of your team, so your subscribers will see their emails coming from “John Doe” rather than the company name. Most company emails are no reply, which automatically kills engagement opportunities, rather than real people that you can converse with.
14. A/B Test subject lines
The only way to know which subject lines work the best is by testing them. Testing your results will help you build better results overtime.
A great email without a strong subject line is like an exotic car with old paint. So be sure to write short subject lines that grab attention and encourage clicks!
Need help getting the most from your emails? Contact Active Web Group, a full-service Digital Marketing Agency with over 20 years of experience. If you’re interested in building a strategy to propel your business forward and your competition in the dust, contact us or call us at (800) 978-3417 today!