How To Write An Effective Email Subject Line

Whether you’re sending a marketing email, a company newsletter, or a special product promotion, the goal is to make your intended readers click to open your message. A compelling email subject line will convince them to take that crucial next step.

How can you get your email recipients to open your message? Following these tips can significantly tilt the odds in your favor.

No surprises. People want to have a good idea of what they’re going to get when they click on your message. The subject line should not be confusing or misleading or you’ll never get a second chance.

Keep the subject line short. A long subject line can be easily ignored or even get cut off if the recipient is checking emails via a mobile device. Keep the subject line to four to eight words and no more than 50 characters (something like a mini-headline).

Hone in on the hot topics. In every industry, certain trends and hot topics prevail at any given time. Stay current with whatever customers are talking about and turn that buzz to your advantage in the subject line.

Avoid “spam” headlines. Don’t include language that email inbox filters could mistake your email as spam, such as “Free”, “Percent Off”, and “Help”. Urgent sounding words such as “Reminder” or “Act Now” don’t end up in spam, but won’t help your open rates. And never (ever, ever!) type a headline in all caps.

Include numbers in your subject line. Adding a number to your subject offers a clear idea of what the reader can expect. For example, “5 Tips to Better Branding” or “A 6-Step Plan to Boost Sales” gives the reader a “quantifiable” sense of the benefits they’ll get from opening the message. (It also conveys the idea that the message comes with a clear ending in sight.)

Don’t go generic. Email recipients react badly to the feeling that they’re part of a mass mailing. As much as possible, try personalizing the subject line so they don’t think they’re receiving a generic message. For example, when sending an email to a specific organization or group of buyers, include their name in the subject line. “B2B Sales Teams – How to Shorten the Sales Cycle” greatly increases the chances B2B salespeople will click on your message.

Write the subject line as if you are the recipient. There’s probably no better way to craft a compelling subject line than by testing it on yourself. What messages are likely to attract your interest? Which ones would likely confuse or annoy you? You want to share helpful information with your target audience, but they’ll only comply if your subject line accurately reflects their interests and concerns.

One last tip: Wait to craft the email subject line until you’ve finished drafting the message or newsletter. Often, the best “headline” will present itself during the composition phrase. Then you have an irresistible subject line that readers can’t help but click on, in order to learn more.


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