5 Tips for Writing Winning Subject Lines

Email subject lines are one of the key elements – along with the from line and preview pane – that drives your open rate. In this month’s feature, we share 5 tips to help your subject lines do what they’re supposed to – entice recipients to open your emails and convert.

  1. Tell it like it is.
    What’s in your email message? That’s what your subject lines need to succinctly communicate to recipients. If you’re sending an email newsletter, make it clear by including the title and issue. If you have a special promotional offer, highlight that. You may come up with creative, cute, and clever subject lines. But if they don’t tell your readers what they need to know, you’ll not only have poor conversion rates in that email promotion, but you also may damage your reputation for future promotions.
  2. Keep it short and simple.
    This is always great advice for subject lines. Your subscribers are likely hurried and quickly browsing through their multitude of mailbox messages to determine which emails to open or delete. Plus, keep in mind that the typical email carrier displays on average between only 38 and 47 characters, and where your subject lines are cut off in a recipient’s mailbox is out of your control. Click here for a spreadsheet tool from Email Marketing Reports that lets you paste in your subject line and see how it reads at different truncation points.
  3. “Front-load” the benefits.
    While keeping subject lines short is important, a recent study by the marketing services firm Epsilon shows that focusing only on length won’t deliver the best results. In this study, which analyzed 568 million emails, the choice and order of word placement were found to be just as important as subject line length. Specifically, the study found that email marketers should “front-load” the words that will likely have the biggest impact – including the benefits to readers – placing them within the first few words of the subject line. Here are a couple of examples of recent FulcrumTech subject lines that followed this advice and performed well: “Boost ROI tenfold with segmentation” and “10 tips for using Twitter.”
  4. Use top brand names and industry buzzwords to improve open rates.
    When appropriate to the content of your email messages, include top brand names in your subject lines. Here’s one that we used successfully earlier this year: “5-step strategy to Facebook success.” Plus, consider what industry-specific words (relevant to your email message) are bound to pique your subscribers’ interest. Since search engine optimization (SEO) is currently a hot topic for email marketing, the following subject line is a good example: “Use SEO to build a great list.”
  5. Look beyond the open rates.
    Although the open rate is an important criterion for judging the effectiveness of your subject lines, it shouldn’t be the only metric you look at. A subject line may generate a high open rate, for example, but result in below-average click-through and conversion rates. In such a case, your recipients may have determined that a subject line did not relate to your email’s content – or even may have been misleading.

Need help with optimizing your email subject lines? The email-marketing experts at FulcrumTech can help. Contact us or give us a call today at 215-489-9336.


Fast Facts & Stats for Email Subject Lines

Here are some interesting email subject line statistics to consider as you write your subject lines:

  • The top three types of subject lines that drive subscribers to open emails contain one of the following:
    • discount offer
    • free product offer
    • familiar brand name.

    From: MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report

  • An average of between 38 and 47 characters show up in the subject line of 57% all U.S. email recipients’ email programs.
    From: Epsilon (2009)
  • Emails with shorter subject lines significantly outperformed emails with longer subject lines.
    From: MailerMailer (2008)
  • Including the company name in the subject line can increase open rates by between 32% and 60% over a subject line without any branding.
    From: Jupiter Research (2007)

Source: EmailStatCenter.com

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