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8 Best Practices for Subject Lines to Improve Your Email Open Rate

by Marketing Marine
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Subject Lines

Subject Lines – When it comes to email marketing, success starts with a strong subject line. In fact, it is often the make-or-break text in an email.

Recent statistics even show that 47% of email recipients open their email based on the subject line alone and 69% of them report an email as spam based also on the subject line.

The data makes sense because a subject line is what recipients or subscribers see first in their inbox. To filter out irrelevant or unnecessary messages, most people would just spend a fraction of a second evaluating an email through its subject line.

If it doesn’t capture their attention, they would just quickly move on to the next email in their inbox, even if the main body of your email does contain information that is useful and valuable to them. Does this happen to some of your campaigns too?

Don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we provided you some tips so you can write better email subject lines that get people to open their emails.

Here we go.

Subject Lines

8 Tips to Write Better Email Subject Lines for Higher Opens

  1. Pique Their Interest

An ideal way to write your subject line to improve your email open rate is that it has to be unique and interesting. As much as possible, avoid cliches and overused words. Instead, present an idea with a hook that incentivizes them to learn more or ones that grab their attention.

To avoid the spam folder, you also need to avoid spam words in your subject lines. Those that are aggressively “salesy” are often marked as spam. We don’t encourage you to use loud punctuation, like multiple exclamation points, all caps, and overtly promotional language (such as “Free” or “Buy now”).

Some email marketers find success in using curiosity-inducing subject lines. It works since it is natural for us humans to seek closure in the sense that we have to fill in the knowledge gap. So, when the subject is open-ended, subscribers will be curious what you mean and this curiously can only be satisfied once they open the email.

To other email marketers, they use funny email subject lines and the psychological principle of the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). American clothing brand Guess once used this great sample subject line that uses FOMO. “Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream.”

  1. Personalize Your Subject Line

Time and time again, email marketing statistics have proven that consumers do not want to be treated like numbers. Rather, they want to be treated as an individual. That is why when marketers take time to personalize their message and subject line to a specific reader, they would feel seen and known.

You can either use the subscriber’s name, purchase, occupation, or other personal details that you have in your database that points to that customer’s profile. You can also use personalization tags.

For instance, you want to use the name tag. Your subscribers enter this tag when they sign up to your email list. Once you enter the name tag in your subject line, it could appear like this: “Thanks for joining us, John.”

  1. Offer Value

If you want a higher open rate, your subject line should indicate the value and communicate to your readers what they are going to get once they open that email. It could be helpful to them.

Show them the promise of value and convince them that your email contains a message or information that will improve their business and/or lives. So, whether you’re offering a discount, a service, or a speaking opportunity, highlight in your subject line what’s in it for your subscribers.

  1. Build Trust

Another best practice for subject lines is to build trust with your recipients. This means setting honest expectations and then fulfilling those expectations once they opened the email.

Avoid misleading subject lines as it won’t establish trust with your subscribers. It is also important to ensure that your subject line is free of grammatical errors and spelling to preserve credibility with your readers.

  1. Keep it Brief

The shorter email content is often better for many recipients, particularly those reading your emails on mobile devices. And we recommend this to you as well. Limit your subject line to not more than 9 words or 60 characters.

Did you also know that the open rate of emails when you use 6 to 10 words in your subject line is 21%? However, this decreases to only a 16% open rate when you use 0-5 words. Meanwhile, 16-20 words in the subject line have an open rate of about 12%.

Don’t be afraid to get to the point because your readers would appreciate it. If it doesn’t serve a clear purpose, remove it.

If the content of your email has a direct call to action (CTA), such as encouraging your readers to buy tickets, then don’t hesitate to reflect that in your subject. An example of it would be, “Join us at the …”

If you want to make an announcement, then channel that enthusiasm into your subject. An example of this would be, “The winners of the contest are…”

  1. Limit Punctuation

Question marks and other unusual punctuations offer a good method to stand out in the inbox, but we recommend you limit using it. Sure, exclamation marks are useful but don’t overuse them because they can be very powerful.

It’s best to use not more than 3 punctuation marks in the subject line so your email won’t appear like spam. One use case of punctuation is when asking your reader a question. This immediately engages them to read your email rather than using a standard statement.

Why? It’s because questions put you in an instant dialogue with your recipients and they are more likely to open the message. Some brands use fun symbols to attract their readers’ attention, such as “We ❤ You.”

  1. Use Emojis Carefully

And speaking of fun symbols, using emojis in your subject line can also add visual interest. However, you still have to keep in mind that you should use not more than one emoji at a time.

Moreover, you can use it to supplement words instead of replacing them. Take note that you still have to get your message across to your subscribers.

A comprehensive study on the effect of emojis in email subject lines showed adding emojis improves open rates. Take, New Year’s, as an example. The average open rate of a New Year’s promotional email campaign is 18%.

But when marketers included a confetti ball or a champagne bottle emojis in the subject line, their campaign saw a 22% average open rate, which is higher than not using an emoji. A similar result was observed on Mother’s Day.

Subject lines that contain a nail polish emoji, for instance, saw an average open rate of 24%. Surprisingly, though, a subject line that contains a woman emoji saw only a 7% email open rate. This means you really have to balance and do your test which one works and which doesn’t.

Different operating systems can also render emojis in different ways. That is why it is important to test your email and see how it looks on different platforms.

  1. Test Every Subject Line Before You Hit Send

You probably know by now that the initial goal of an email marketing campaign is to attract attention. How then will you know that your subject line is effective and indeed catch your recipient’s attention enough for them to open the email?

The simple answer is to test your email subject lines. Create two subject lines first. Differentiate them as subject line A and subject line B. Next, send the first variation (subject line A) to a percentage of your contact and the second variation (subject line B) to an equal portion.

After a while, you would already have the numbers on what subject line had the most open. Then, use the winning subject line to the remaining contacts who are chosen to receive your email but were not a part of the test population. The overall goal is to see what subject line your audience finds the most engaging.

You can also use subject line tester tools online to automatically see the analytics, showing the predicted open rate and past performance. MailChimp, for instance, has this subject line helper that shows the recent campaign performance along with their open rates.

The more you test your email subject lines, the better you’ll know your list and their preferences.

Wrap Up

Subject Lines

The key takeaway here is that you should pay attention to your subject line because it matters. And if you truly want to boost the results of your email campaign beyond just achieving a high open-rate, it would be best if you put a little extra effort into such a component in your emails.

Sure, writing a good email subject line week in and week out can be challenging but you can follow the tips above so you can craft the best one for your brand.

Good luck writing!

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