Making Headlines: 5 Subject Line Tips To Improve Your Email Open Rates

Every brand uses email marketing – and if you’re not, you should be. It’s cost-effective, easily accessible and has one of the highest ROIs of any marketing channel. That is when used effectively. When it comes to mastering email marketing, you need to understand it’s what’s on the outside that matters – and by this, we mean your subject line.

Whilst there’s no doubt the content of your email is important, if you can’t persuade your audience to open your digital letter, what’s inside has no value at all. So today we’ll be exploring 5 tips your business can use to improve open rates and up the success of your email marketing campaigns. 

Marketing ROI infographic

What is a subject line?

As the name suggests, the subject line introduces the content within your email. It’s that single line of text designed to create a powerful first (sometimes last) impression. It should entice your audience to open your email and consume what’s within – and there are a number of ways you can do this. 

Tips to improve your subject lines and boost open rates

#1 Make it personal 

If someone shouts “How are you” in a room full of people, they are unlikely to get a response. However, if they were to call “*Insert name*, how are you?”, they would likely receive a welcomed response from their target. The same principle applies to email marketing. 

If you send an email with a personalised subject line, the recipient will be far more likely to open it. It’s as if it’s meant for them and only them. But don’t be fooled – personalisation goes beyond just a name. Whilst adding name tags is a simple way to speak directly to your audience, if you don’t have this information available or you simply want to try a direct approach, you can try things like segmenting your audience based on interest and drafting targeted content, writing location-specific subject lines or even using automation to send targeted birthday emails and the like. 

#2 Make it worth their while

If you expect your audience to take precious time out of their busy schedules to read your email, you need to make it worth their while. And make that value explicit in your subject line. With 47% of consumers deciding whether to open an email based on the subject line alone, if you fail to capture their interest from the get-go, you’ll find yourself out of luck. Try to be descriptive enough to communicate the benefit but leave just enough mystery to spark their interest.

#3 Create a sense of FOMO

No one likes missing out – which is why using your subject lines to create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) is so effective. There are 2 simple ways to create FOMO using your email subject lines – adding an element of exclusivity or creating a sense of urgency – both have been found to increase open rates by as much as 22%! But be warned – many can be tempted to use excessive punctuation to heighten their message, which can often lead to your emails being marked as spam. 

#4 Keep it short and sweet

Most people have busy lives with limited free time available. And for that very reason, they don’t want to waste time reading a lengthy sentence that could very well have been summarised in 3 words. Not only this, but with almost 50% of users now using a mobile device to open emails, businesses need to remember that with smaller screens comes less room for email subject lines. With this in mind, the max length you’ll want to aim for is 41 characters (or 7 words) – and whilst this doesn’t give brands much room to play, it does help overcome the issue of waffling. 

#5 Experiment with your subject lines

As with most things in life, different tactics will work for different people. When it comes to mastering your email subject lines, you have to be prepared to experiment to find the best fit for your audience – not forgetting you will face changes over time! A/B testing is a great way to experiment and explore which subject lines work best for your mailing list. And naturally, reviewing your email performance data as time progresses will give you an idea of what resonates with your audience. 

With the help of these tips, your business can ensure your email subject lines are the first, not last impression for users. Looking for more practical tips and advice? Check out our ultimate guide to email marketing here or get in touch to organise a free consultation with one of our marketing experts. 

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