The competition is fierce, and your subject line needs to be clever and attention-getting, yet sincere and compelling. Mobile has made it even harder as we struggle to constrain subject lines to 50 characters. I recently drafted up a few potential subject lines for a client and asked for her feedback. Her response? “Does it matter?” Are you kidding? A subject line is everything! 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone, and frankly, I’m surprised that the number isn’t higher.
Here are some subject line tips:
- Short and sweet. A whopping 40% of emails are being opened on mobile first, so 50 characters is now the rule. Editing is a skill. Write your blog and subject line, then come back later and you may have new clarity. Take out those words which are nonessential and see if you’ve altered the meaning.
- Use a familiar sender name—people are afraid of viruses and they have little interest in spam. If they see an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, they’re less inclined to open it than if it is coming from a real person or someone they recognize.
- Personalize. This is a list thing. Include the first name of your contacts so you can address them in your emails. Who doesn’t want to get a personal email rather than Dear Friend?
- List segmentation. This may/not be relevant for your audience, but if it is, spend the time to do this. Your clients will thank you for tailoring information just for them.
- Be truthful. Do not make a cheesy promise in your subject line to encourage open rates, then not deliver on that promise. When there’s a total disconnect between the subject line and the subject, you have deceived your audience.
- If you’re offering something special in your email, use your subject line tell your audience.
- There are a gazillion schools of thought on this one. It used to be 10am on Tues or Wed, but now that everyone’s online 24/7, the rules have changed. Some recommend sending when people are likely to have time to read it—Sunday afternoon or evening, for instance, when many of us settle in to do some work to get ready for the week ahead. If you’re sending out an email about a new bar’s happy hour, the best time to send it is might be 4:30 or 5:00.
- Concise language. You only have 50 characters. Put them to work. Use action verbs; try to create an image for your audience.
- Make them feel special. Who doesn’t want this one? “A special offer just for you”, etc.
- Create a sense of urgency. Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate. Using deadlines like “today only” or “24-hour giveaway”.
- Use a question. Make it compelling—it can be thoughtful and make people think.
- NEVER use all caps. Enough on that one. It’s difficult to read and is perceived as shouting.
One more thing . . .
Rather than just deleting all those blasts you get from others, start paying attention to them, including the subject lines. I end up reading a fair number of marketing emails because I’m always interested in potential blog topics. You may be surprised what you will learn.