First impressions always matter.
Think about your Email subject lines. That’s the first thing recipients see in their email client.
Your subject line can do one of two things:
- Intrigue the recipient that they open your email and read
- Turn off the recipient so that they thrash you Email.
Nothing in between really matters, right?
Hence, your Email subject line is of great importance. It’s what determines the success of your email campaign or its failure.
Most people get too many emails (I know I do). Whether they are from:
A restaurant that you don’t remember eating at, offering a 10% discount for your birthday dinner
Your in-laws asking why you don’t write more often (you really should write to them you know)
Each recipient’s mail box is always overflowing.
If your Email is treated as junk by a recipient it defeats the purpose of your email campaign, right?
With all of this stacked against you, you know that if your recipient interprets your email subject line as adding huge value to them, your email will be opened.
In this post, I’m going to detail:
Emotional elements of subject lines that drive clicks.
Best practices to use to write subject lines that get clicked.
How to run A/B tests on your email subject lines.
That way you can gather your own data, about which kind of subject line constructs works best for your recipients.
Why Are Email Subject Lines Important?
Here are some interesting statistics which support the claim that email subject lines are important.
30% of recipients open emails based on their subject line alone.
70% of recipients report emails as spam based on their subject line.
40% of recipients click the spam button based on the From Name or Email Address
Here’s What I Took Away From These Statistics
Subject lines cannot be in-your-face salesy. No recipient is happy to open and read a blunt sales pitch when they got through their incoming email. It does not matter how much value would be added to them if they bought from you.
Once recipients receive a few overtly salesy emails from you, your emails will get marked as spam or they will unsubscribe. That’s why you must pay attention to your Email subject line.
30% of recipients opening emails based on their subject line is not a terribly high figure. (This % increases as your recipients mature) It’s high enough to make email marketers sit up and take notice.
Remember most recipients read your subject line before they read the From Email Id.
Do Emotional Subject Lines Impact Email Open Rates?
Yes! If your email subject line makes people feel something, they will open the email.
Every recipient wants to know how their life is going to get better, simpler, or more enjoyable because they read your email.
Such benefits are tough to convey in an email subject line. Especially when it’s limited to around 8 words. However, when such benefits are conveyed your emails are opened and read.
This does not mean your email subject line must say something profound (or life-changing) every single time.
What’s important is that your subject line must say something that connects emotionally with your recipient.
To do this successfully know your recipients intimately. Understand what appeals / resonates with them. That’s how you know exactly what to say in your Email subject line.
That’s what makes recipient’s want to read your email, instead of passively scrolling by (or worse, sending your email to their SPAM folder).
Which Recipient Emotion Should You?
Okay, blending emotion into your email subject line is an established fact. As email marketer you need to identify which emotions you should try and trigger in your email subject line.
Focus on the following four emotions. They work every time:
Trigger a sense of urgency in your email subject line. Give your recipients a solid reason why they should I act fast. Explain clearly, what they have to lose if they don’t.
Here are some simple subject line formulas you can use to get engage your recipients sense of urgency.
Deliver a deadline
A deadline or limited time message inspires immediate action.
Example: Every successful website owner will open this … before time runs out.
Tap into a recipient’s Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).
The fear of missing out is a real emotion. No one wants to miss out on something great.
Example: I’ve only 10 spots available! I work closely with every participant. Claim yours now.
Describe a negative outcome if your recipient does not act. Which will happen if the recipient does not engage with the content of your email.
Example: Can you really ignore 1000 focused site visitors hitting your website, everyday?
Include enough detail to get your subject line reader interested. Leave enough out to ensure they have to open your email and read to satisfy their curiosity.
Here’s how to infuse some curiosity into your email subject line to get more opens.
Try the cliff hanger approach. Leave out enough detail to stoke interest without telling the whole story.
Example: Shirley increased her website monthly sales by 27%. You can do the same.
This technique starts with the end result. Offer readers a conclusion that leaves them wondering how the story starts.
Example: George’s social media marketing has him turning cartwheels.
Use an open-ended question. One that can only be answered by reading your email.
Example: Here’s how to complete your social media marketing in 30 minutes each day?
Create a subject line that excites a recipient. Then ensure that your email content backs up the excitement your subject line triggered. Believe me, if you do not, you will not get too many second chances to excite your email recipients.
Here’s how to infuse excitement into your subject lines.
Incorporate strong action verbs.
Use language that encourages people to get up and do something.
Example: Reduce your body weight by 23% within 30 days
Give your reader a sense of exclusivity.
Email subscribers love feeling like they have the inside track on exclusive deals and information.
Example: You are 1st among only 10 people I’m making this exclusive offer to?
Make an offer people can’t refuse.
Use an accurate but hard-to-believe statistic or incredible offer to generate excitement.
Example: You will see a 27% increase in sales using this single tactic?
Create a subject line that triggers a happy feeling within your recipient. Make them want to click the email subject line to read your email.
Your email subject line must make your recipients feel they will miss reading something in the body of your email, which will strongly reinforce the happy feelings triggered by your subject line.
Everyone knows that:
People won’t remember what you say, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
That applies to all your marketing efforts. Your branding. Your email subject lines. Make people feel good. Reap your rewards.
Work in emoji’s or emoticons (intelligently).
A well-placed emoji can be great for getting a chuckle.
Example: Look awesome, feel terrific (place an appropriate emoji here.)
Work in humor (carefully).
Laughter is good for your health. Literally. Put people in a good mood, and they’ll react more positively to your content.
Example: Three marketers walk into a bar…
Give people an opportunity to feel good when they do good.
Example: Make a difference. Your soup kitchen needs volunteers.
Just 1 hour will make a huge difference to someone’s hunger.
Best Practices For Writing Terrific Email Subject Lines – Pros Use
Are there best practices for writing terrific email subject lines? In a word, Yes!
While it’s true that that every email marketing campaign and audience is unique, there are some basic best practices that will work across most.
Never Re-Use Subject Lines
Recipients always remember who wasted their time. So, don’t waste people’s time reusing subject lines.
A repeated subject line sends recipients the message they’ve already read your email. What’s worse, is they may have ignored your email the first time. (Now they’re even more annoyed to notice the same subject line in their mail client).
The one exception is:
If you are delivering a recurring newsletter. Then keeping the subject line the same helps recipients quickly identify your email. (Which could trigger their decision to click through and read).
You can do A/B testing to figure out if this works for you or not. Keep the subject line the same for some recipients, switch it around for others and let your 3rd party email service provider inform you which works for you.
Aim For A Subject Line Of 5 To 7 Words Tops
Each email client has their own character count before they truncate long subject lines.
The ball park figure for a subject line that does not get truncated is five to seven words of about 8 characters each. Between 40 to 56 characters max and your subject line will never be truncated.
Avoid Salesy Sounding Subject Lines
To get people to read your emails your subject lines cannot be aggressive. You have to avoid exclusively salesy sounding email subject lines.
Recipients, like everyone else, are protective of their time and money. Your email subject lines and content should add measurable value to them first. Then you can try a salesy one.
To do this, always put your recipient’s needs first. Your subject line should state clearly what’s in it for them, instead of what’s in it for you.
Here’s a bad example on an email subject line:
Buy this awesome WordPress plugin right now!
That’s pushy, and does on indicate what value your WordPress plugin adds to the recipient.
Here’s a better, more conversational way of saying the same thing:
This WordPress plugin ensures all your webpage images download at blinding speeds.
Your webpage will take 75% less time load. Your site visitors on mobile devices will smile.
That sounds like it was written by someone who cares about the needs of the recipient.
Who explains the value add of their WordPress plugin to their recipient. If your WordPress plugin responds to the needs of your email recipients they will happily buy.
Use Action Verbs
Sometimes directing readers using a specific action can motivate your recipients to respond.
For example: You are one click away from multiplying your website income 3X.
Use Humor Thoughtfully
A lot of email marketers think they are funny. This might even be true among their friends.
That said, writing email subject lines tinged with humor is a difficult skill to master. If you are confident of your audience AND your skill to blend in humor in your subject lines go for it.
Otherwise it’s probably better to subject lines with humor blended in, to professionals.
Include A Surprising Statistic In Your Subject Line
Data doesn’t lie. If you have a statistic that sounds unreal or counter-intuitive, don’t hesitate an instant to use that in your subject line.
Just ensure that you present such a statistic in your subject line, in a way that isn’t misleading.
Here’s an example:
The tool 68% of marketers use isn’t what you think.
Reading that, a recipient should be curious to know:
What tool could that possibly be?
What does 68% of marketers know that the remaining 32% do not?
How can I avoid being part of the 32% that do not know?
The statistic blended into your subject line should be remarkable enough to be interesting, but not overblown in a way that’s misleading.
Write Your Subject Lines So They Read Clearly
People have short attention spans. Don’t make them think too hard to understand your subject line.
Use clear language. Keep your subject line succinct. Cut out any unnecessary words.
Let’s take a look at this subject line:
The best car for the average family of four is the new Mazda 6.
That’s a lot of the and for and other incidental words that could be cut out.
To simplify this subject line:
The new Mazda 6. The perfect family car.
This sentence says the exact same thing, except with fewer words. It’s tighter, punchier, and easier to read.
Any time you’re writing subject lines, ask yourself these two questions:
- Are there any non-essential words I can cut out?
- How can I tighten up what’s left, to say the same thing concisely?
Create Subject Lines Like A Human
Be conversational and write like a human being. Use language similar to what your target audience would use.
Don’t create subject lines that sound geeky enough to make your recipient’s feel inferior in any way.
Don’t Write Your Subject Line In ALL CAPS
On the Internet writing in ALL CAPS traditionally indicates that you are SHOUTING.
Your recipients will not take well to a subject line written in ALL CAPS.
You will see a high number of email ignores as well as a high number of unsubscribes if/when you do this.
HEY! IF YOU DON’T BREAK YOUR OWN CAPS LOCK KEY, I’LL COME OVER THERE AND BREAK IT FOR YOU.
Hey! I know it’s your keyboard. Just … please, stop writing email subject lines that scream in my face.
Strive to say as much as possible in the fewest words you can manage.
Always try rewriting your email subject line a few times. While doing so be mindful of subject line length.
Look for ways to make the same subject line statement with brevity.
You just cannot go wrong when you do.
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