10 Tips for Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates

Subject Lines that Boost OpensGetting subscribers to open your emails is the first step towards getting them to convert. And the subject line plays a pivotal role in driving opens. In this month’s feature, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet that includes 10 top tips for creating subject lines that successfully grab attention and entice recipients to open your emails.

Just how important is a subject line in getting people to open an email? In a survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey and Constant Contact, 47% of respondents said that the subject line makes them open an email from a business or nonprofit, second only to the organization the email is sent from (64%). This far surpassed other email opening-based factors, which included liking the offer (26%) or the first lines of the email copy (14%).

Subject Line Cheat Sheet

If you’re looking for proven subject line catalysts to help you drive opens, here are 10 of our favorites. Be sure to keep this subject line cheat sheet handy as a reminder of what to do to help ensure the success of your next email campaign.

  1. Clearly tell readers what to expect when they open the email. Informative will generally win over cute and clever.
  2. Align the subject line with the headline and call to action. If recipients completely skip over all email body copy — and many may — they should be able to understand the gist of the email by simply reading the subject line, headline, and call-to-action buttons. And all three should either match or read like a story.
  3. Be as specific as you can about the email content. You’ll find the more specific you are about the content of the email in the subject line, the more high-quality leads will be opening your emails — people who are truly interested in your products or services.
  4. Promote time sensitivity. Limited-time offers and expiration dates in a subject line can create a sense of urgency, encouraging recipients to open an email right away, rather than waiting until a later date. If you do promote a deadline for something, however, make sure to follow through. Readers will take notice.
  5. Capitalize on recipients’ curiosity. In other words, create subject lines that pique interest and entice users to open the email. For example: 64% of your colleagues couldn’t identify this mood disorder — can you?
  6. Incorporate creative ways to stand out in the inbox. Thanks to the ever-increasing sea of promotions, today’s marketers are finding it harder and harder to get their emails noticed in the inbox. Try using symbols, punctuation, uppercase letters, or personalization to physically draw readers’ eyes to your subject line. Parentheses can also be effective in drawing a reader’s eye to your subject line, while allowing you to provide information (but use only two additional characters).
  7. Express exclusivity. Readers respond well to offers for a select group, both in concept and wording. In addition to “exclusive,” words such as “private” and “invitation” work well.
  8. Keep the language user-centric. Focus on what’s in it for recipients, for example, using words such as “you” and “your” versus “we” and “our.”
  9. Be brief. There are no hard rules about subject-line length. Say what you need to say, but say it in as few words as possible.
  10. Front-load the benefit. Clearly state the benefit at the beginning to get the most out of the subject line’s reading pane. Plus, pay attention to the anchor words. For those recipients who see the subject line in its entirety, for example, make sure to anchor important words on both ends of the line — their eyes will go from the first words to the last.

Once you’ve created subject lines that keep the above tips in mind, run subject line A/B split tests to determine what really resonates the most with your target audience. Check out this previous NewsLever article for information about how to test subject lines.

Do you feel your organization’s subject lines aren’t performing as well as they could be? Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and we’ll help you create, test, and optimize subject lines that really drive email opens and conversions.

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