5 Tips for a Great Email Subject Line
  • 4-minute read
  • 14th June 2019

5 Tips for a Great Email Subject Line

Writing a great marketing email or newsletter is one thing. Encouraging your subscribers to open said email is another thing entirely. As such, you need a great subject line. But how can you create a subject line that will boost open rates? Our top tips for a great email subject line include:

  1. Keep email subject lines short and simple (ideally, six to ten words).
  2. Tailor subject lines to suit your brand, audience and goals.
  3. Personalize each subject line using your customer information.
  4. Avoid words and phrases that trigger spam filters.
  5. Use A/B testing to refine your email subject lines.

For more detail on optimizing your email subject lines, read on below.

1. Keep It Short

The best email subject lines are usually short and simple. In fact, subject lines between six and ten words long generate the highest open rates. Thus, you need to set out what the email is about in clear, concise terms. Sometimes, this simply means getting straight to the point:

Short subject line

Here, the subject line is simple, but it tells the recipient exactly what they need to know. And that is often enough!

In other cases, you may need to tempt the recipient to open the email by setting out a time-limited offer or asking a question:

Question subject line

Even in these “tempting” subject lines, though, a punchy message will usually work best. If nothing else, you risk losing part of the sentence with a long subject line. And if you do use a longer subject line, you will therefore need to front load the important information:

Long subject line

In the email above, for example, the subject line was long enough that the browser did not display the whole message. But the most important detail – Save up to 75% on Weekly Sale – is right at the start, so the sender could be sure that all recipients would read this information.

2. Think About Your Audience and Goals

No single “style” will suit every email. Instead, the best approach for each subject line will depend on your brand voice, audience and goals.

The first two of these – brand voice and audience – go hand in hand. After all, your brand should reflect what your customers expect from your business. So, if you’re running an entertainment news website aimed at a young audience, you might pack your email subject lines with slang or emoji. But the same approach may not be appropriate for mailing an accountant’s client list.

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Similarly, an email subject line should reflect your aims. Are you trying to convert new subscribers into customers? Remind existing customers of a deadline? Provide news about your business? In any case, think about how you can tailor the email subject line to help achieve your goal.

3. Personalize Each Subject Line

Adding a personal touch to an email subject line can boost open rates. This may include any number of the following:

  • The subscriber’s first name (e.g., the LinkedIn email above).
  • Mentioning products or services that reflect the user’s past purchases.
  • Sending a greeting or offer on the user’s birthday.
  • Localizing emails based on a subscriber’s address.

How you approach personalization will depend on your business and the information you have on your subscribers. But people are much more likely to open an email if they feel it was written for them.

4. Avoid the Spam Filters

If your emails end up in the Spam folders of your subscribers, nobody will read them. So to stop this happening, you should try to avoid words and phrases that sound “spammy” in your subject lines.

This does include some fairly obvious terms – a subject line that says EARN £££ FROM HOME TODAY!!! is not likely to get past any spam filters. But it can also include innocuous phrases such as “great deal” or “compare rates,” so make sure to check a list of spam trigger words.

5. Test Different Subject Lines

Finally, A/B testing is a great way to refine your email subject lines over time. This involves sending two versions of the same subject line to different parts of your subscriber list and seeing which generates the best results. And these results are specific to your business.

Thus – whatever other companies are doing and whatever the marketing blogs are saying – you will get to know exactly what your customers respond to, letting you target them more effectively.

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