Best Practices for Eye-catching Email Subject Lines with Examples
Written By Jason Rowse - Digital Marketing Expert
More than 347 billion emails will be sent and received by 2022, but did you know that a whopping 79.19 percent of those will go unread?
Email marketing is an essential tool for businesses, but if it isn’t done right then it simply won’t have the desired effect.
For this reason, business people need to be experts in instantly grabbing the attention of the email recipient with a perfectly tailored subject line.
There are numerous ways to awaken people’s intrigue with a subject line. Depending on who you are sending the email to, you may want to try a few different techniques.
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14 Best Practices – with Examples
1. Get Personal
If an email looks as though it has just been sent to a mass audience with no personalization, recipients may feel less inclined to open it.
96% of email marketing companies believe email personalization can improve email marketing performance, and 50 percent of businesses think it is a useful way to improve interaction.
Think about it, would you prefer to see an email subject that says “Dear Valued Customer,” or have it address you personally by name?
Brainstorm ways that you can add personal touches to your marketing emails. Simply sending customers a happy birthday greeting or an ecard at Christmas could help boost retention and increase sales.
2. Keep it to the Point
Having a longwinded email subject line is a bad idea, as it will fail to grasp readers’ attention.
There has been extensive research into the ideal number of characters to use in an email subject line, with 82 percent of expert marketers sending emails with subject lines of 60 characters or less.
An analysis of 100 emails from the world’s top 100 marketers discovered that the average subject line was 43.85 characters long.
This highlights how these marketers aim to keep things short and sweet. There should be enough information to pique the interest of the recipient, but not too much detail that they feel they don’t need to actually open the email.
3. Segment According to the Message
Another way to get personal with your emails is to segment your email list into different groups. These groups should have some things in common, such as a shared browsing or buying history, or be from a similar demographic.
According to research from HubSpot, segmented campaigns in marketing can lead to as much as a 760 percent increase in revenue.
Segmentation allows business owners to respond to the behaviors of subscribers and make sure that they are sending messages which are relevant to them.
With this in mind, they can be targeted in terms of their geographic area, purchase history, or even abandoned shopping carts.
4. Make Your Subject Clear
Most of your customers are likely to receive a high number of emails each day, and a lot of these go unread. To ensure that your email doesn’t get lost in the pile, you need to design a subject line that is clear and stands out.
By seeing what an email is about before clicking on it, users know whether it will be about something that interests them or not.
This is why clarity of the subject needs to be combined with segmentation, to ensure that customers are always getting emails that are relevant to them.
Imagine a customer’s email inbox, full of vague subject lines or emails which simply say, “No subject”. You can make your email easily stand out from these by having a clear subject.
Something like, “Book sale at Smiths” would tell customers exactly what the email was about before they clicked on it. This way, they would know if they were interested or not before opening it.
5. Avoid Spam Words
The last thing you want is for your email to get lost in someone’s junk folder. In this case, the email is unlikely to ever be seen, let alone opened.
Email service provider algorithms are designed to filter out spam and recognize emails that have been sent out to thousands of people by a robot.
When writing an email subject line, you need to be wary of things that could be mistaken for spam.
For this reason, make sure that all the words in the subject line are spelled correctly. In addition to that, avoid using all capital letters and writing about vague offers or promotions.
You could try to influence customers to open your email by generating a sense of urgency or importance around it.
If users feel that they have to act quickly in order to benefit from something, they may feel more inclined to open the email.
Some marketers choose to be direct and say something like, “Offer ending today”. Others choose a different approach and write subject lines like, “Only three places left”.
Some customers may see an email and resolve to open it at a later time, only to forget about it. By triggering a sense of urgency, they could be influenced to open the email immediately.
7. Sense of Importance
A sense of importance in an email subject line goes hand in hand with urgency.
You need to make customers feel as though the content of the email is important, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. Examples of subject lines that do this include, “You need to try this new method,” and “Do this to make more money.”
It is also a good idea to try to make your customers feel important, by making the subject line sound as though it is directly addressing an individual.
By telling a customer that they are one of only three people to receive a certain offer or email, they may be more inclined to open the email and find out what it’s about.
8. Communicate with Numbers
Using numbers and figures can be a good way to make your content sound more legitimate and less vague.
With this in mind, you could give an exact figure for the discounts available in a sale, provide information about how many people are attending an event, or make a claim such as, “only one in three people will click this email.”
Communicating with numbers can make your content seem more substantial, and a user may decide to click on the email because they believe they will find more useful information and statistics within. As you can see in the above image, the email subject lines with numbers in stand out and draw the reader’s attention.
9. Use Humor
One way to entice customers to open your email could be to use humor. Because a lot of subject lines in people’s inboxes will be boring and repetitive, making yours a bit jokey could help it stand out from the crowd. You don’t have to be a standup comedian to think of something witty for an email.
An example of a funny subject line could be, “Swipe right on us,” as a reference to the dating app, Tinder.
Some companies choose to use puns. House of Fraser’s, “Temptation on every level,” is a good example of this.
10. Don’t Go Overboard with Emojis
If you want to seem friendly and personable, you could choose to add some emojis to your email subject line. These can be particularly useful if you want to convey a number of different feelings but you are aware that you need to keep your subject short and snappy.
Indeed, more marketers are choosing to use the symbols and it has been found that their usage has been increasing by 40 percent year on year.
While it’s ok to add the odd smiley face or laughing emoji, be careful not to go overboard with them.
If you put too many in, the email could be recognized as spam. Even if it does go through to your customers’ inboxes, they may not take you seriously.
11. Awaken Curiosity
Playing on people’s innate curiosity is a fantastic way to ensure people click on your emails. In emails that are designed to entice curiosity, the crafter of the email will provide a small bit of interesting information followed by a promise that the reader will find out more if they click through.
These subject lines can often seem a bit like click-bait, but they get the job done.
The first part of the subject line will provide a bit of intriguing information such as, “An elephant rampaged through town.” Then there will be a gap in the readers’ information that needs filling.
Therefore, the subject line will finish with something like, “here’s how they stopped it.”
12. Use Admired Recognizable People
Another way to increase the legitimacy of your subject could be to use famous names to appeal to people.
For example, if you are sending an email about a course that helps people quit smoking, you could list a couple of well-known celebrities who have managed to stop. You could say something like, “Join Ashton Kutcher and Charlize Theron by quitting smoking today.”
Using recognizable people can stimulate clicks because the recipient of the email may respect the person and want to know more about them.
People have a tendency to follow celebrity gossip as well. So if the email appears to include some juicy information about a star, it could increase the chances of it being opened.
13. Don’t Make False Promises
Putting information about an outstanding or attractive offer in your subject line could help to increase the chances of someone opening it, but you should be careful not to promise something that you can’t deliver.
If you trick customers into opening emails in this way, they are less likely to open the next one you send to them.
In addition to that, people can be inherently skeptical about things. If the subject line sounds like it is too good to be true, recipients may not even bother opening the email.
An example of a common false promise in an email subject line is to tell users that they have won something. They open the email only to find out that they will be entered into a draw to win the prize if they complete a survey first.
14. A/B Test Your Lines
After choosing a few ideas for email subject lines that are likely to suit your business, you should A/B test them. This is a common practice of expert marketers.
You can analyze which ones worked and which didn’t, and see how the results differ for various audiences.
By doing this kind of rigorous reflection, you can refine your email targeting in future campaigns.
This way, you will ensure that the right subject lines go to the desired audience for them. In turn, more people will click through on your emails.
There are various different ways to make your email stand out from the crowd and increase its chances of being opened.
Email marketers should constantly bear in mind that a vast number of emails never get read, so they need to do everything in their power to spark intrigue with the subject line.
Depending on what you are offering, you may want to test out a few different techniques to see which one works best for your company.