7 Tips for Writing the Perfect Email Subject Line

7 Tips for Writing the Perfect Email Subject Line

September 16, 2020

With every passing year, email subject lines continue to grow in importance. Email inboxes are more crowded now than they ever have been.

With over half of consumers deleting marketing emails without ever opening them, how do we write subject lines that really make a difference?

As it stands, email subject lines are the second most important factor in the reader’s decision whether to open or not. Brand awareness and the sender’s name is the only factor that tops it.


Because it’s often the first thing recipients see. And, if they check out the sender’s name first, they’ll then turn to the subject line to decide whether opening it will benefit them.

With an average open rate for marketing emails just above 20% across all industries, a massive proportion of the emails you send won’t be read. No matter how amazing your design, the level of personalization, or the fancy imagery you use, it won’t make a difference if you can’t get readers to open in the first place.

Of course, that’s not to say creating first-class email content is a waste of time. That’s the stuff that gets the conversions and drives sales. But, to get the opens that lead to clicks, you need to work for it.

We’ve got 7 simple tips to help you create the perfect email subject lines. Follow these and we guarantee you’ll have the best email subject lines in the business.


1. Vary subject line length

Many email clients like gmail, yahoo, and more cut subject lines when they’re being viewed in web-based readers. Usually, the cut-off point for this is around the 55-character limit. Mobile inboxes, on the other hand, commonly cut off subject lines at about 30 characters.

To ensure that your subject lines are making an impact, be sure to check your campaign reporting. This will help you identify the device on which your customers are opening. Then, you can plan your subject lines around this suggested length.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you must strictly stick to these character limits. One of the best parts of working on subject lines is the ability to experiment. Don’t think about it as trial and error – think of it as trial and trial and trial until success.


2. Include a call to action

You want customers to complete an action. That’s why you’re emailing, so why not be clear about what you want? Positive action verbs are a good option as long as you’re careful not to come across as spammy. Think along the lines of “get yours”, “join us” and “book today”.

If you’re worried about coming across as a spam sender (we’ll be covering how best to avoid this later) then try making key benefits or propositions the CTA in your subject line. If the key benefit of shopping with you comes from your offer of free shipping, push this in your subject line. If you’re offering student discounts, shout about it to drive opens.

Essentially, you should be thinking “what will drive my readers to convert?” Whatever the answer, try running with it in your subject line.


3. Be relevant

Relevancy is key. Whether it’s your email copy or your subject lines, shoppers will only answer your emails if it’s going to benefit them.

Don’t be vague or mysterious. Intriguing subject lines might generate good open rates, but your end goal is click-throughs and conversions. And, you’re not going to get those if your email isn’t related to your subject line. In the long run, this could actually be detrimental to your brand. By misleading them you could erode their fragile trust in you.

So, keep your subject lines related to your key message. It’ll increase the quality of opens and consequently improve your click-through rate.


4. Tell, don’t sell

Steer clear adding unnecessary descriptive adjectives to your subject lines. Words like ‘amazing’, ‘unbeatable’, and ‘stunning’ actually do very little to convince recipients to open.

Keep it simple and tell readers what they can expect from your email. There’s no need to make grand promises and oversell what is simply a new product launch, event, or mid-season sale.

Once again, this will improve the quality of your opens. When it’s clear to the reader what’s inside you’re giving them more reason to convert.


5. Avoid spam words

It’s every email marketer’s nightmare to have their hard word flagged as spam.

After all the work that goes into creating a fully optimised email marketing campaign, you don’t want to be the one in five that gets caught by the spam filter.

Spam filters are constantly checking for specific triggers that indicate an email might be spam:

  • Specific word choice
  • Messages in ALL CAPS
  • Emails without an unsubscribe button
  • Links to unknown or questionable websites
  • Colorful, hard to read, and different sized fonts

Typically spam filters are looking for suspicious words or phrases associated with scams, schemes, free gifts and more.

What to avoid:

  • Spam words that make exaggerated claims and promises, e.g. #1, 100% satisfied, earn money, free consultation, and satisfaction guaranteed.
  • Words that create unnecessary urgency and pressure, e.g. act now, apply now, get started now, please read, while supplies last, and more.
  • Spammy words or words that imply shady or unethical behavior, e.g. cancel at any time, no hidden charges, meet singles, etc.
  • Words that are considered jargon or typically used in legal documents, e.g. as seen on, bonus, certified, cheap, join millions, this message contains, quote, and more.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t EVER use these words in your emails. It just means use these words and phrases responsibly.


6. Write your subject line last

To ensure your subject line is clear, relevant, and engaging enough to convert, you should be writing it last.

After you’ve finalized the design and written your email copy, you’ll know the exact message you’re trying to communicate. With that in mind, deciding what to include in your subject line will be much easier.


7. Test your subject lines

Our final tip is undoubtedly the most important.

No matter what tactic you try or the results you get, you need to test your subject lines. What works one day might not work a couple of days later. Or what increases opens for one segment may have absolutely no effect on another. That’s why you should be constantly split testing your email campaigns.

These tips and tricks are a great place to start improving the success of your subject lines, but the only way to truly create the perfect subject line is to change it up.


Author: Dotdigital


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