Secrets of Writing Effective Email Subject Lines

April 16, 2014 by BizTraffic Team

Target Email Subject LinesIf you believe you’ve mastered the craft of writing SEO-rich headlines, congratulations are in order. But if you’re trying to write email subject lines that get your emails opened, that’s another animal.

Unlike SEO, you're not trying to get to the top of any rankings, but you still want your time spent on email marketing to reap rewards.

Here are five subject line tips to increase your email marketing open rate:

1. Audience

If you've written the body of your email right you've had your audience in mind the whole time, and that thinking has to continue into your subject line. Email marketing works because the messages are directed to certain groups-or audiences-of people who would likely be interested in what you're offering.

Thinking back to who your audience is will help decide what kind of tone to use and what they'll want to know up front in the subject line. This could mean your offer is couched in a funny line or emphasized in no-nonsense terms. It could also translate into a phrase hinting at what's inside the email that will pique curiosity and drive readers to click.

This part of writing subject lines is definitely more art than science, but there are some proven ways to increase those clicks. And that brings us to...

2. Keywords

This doesn't mean what it does in SEO. In this context keywords are terms that catch readers' attention. For example, “secrets” is one of the most-clicked, most lead-generating subject line words you can use, according to HubSpot.

Other great words to use include “sale,” “free delivery” or “% off.” Interesting to note, the word “save” has a low open rate, as does “monthly.” But “weekly” and “daily” are good, hinting that people like their information delivered quickly.

Warning: Don’t ever overuse a word in your subject lines or you’ll turn your reader off—especially if you don’t deliver what’s promised

3. Length 

The shorter the better, at least according to the numbers. One study says that open rates are 12.5% higher for subject lines with fewer than 49 characters and ones with fewer than 10 characeters have open rates that are 58 percent higher. That's even more reason to make sure your message is catchy and to the point. 

4. Get personal.

Statistics also show that email subject lines with the consumer’s name or company name are opened more often than subject lines that don’t use either. Pay attention to the email address—it will signal if the person is receiving your email at their work address or personal address. Once the person opens your email, make sure you continue the personalization in the body of the email, or your recipient will be disappointed and ignore your email the next time.

5. Be Useful and Helpful.

People will open your email if you’re going to be informative and relevant to their lives. Since recent subscribers are more likely to open your emails, make sure you grab them from the beginning with subject lines and content they need. Then, continue to be their most anticipated email by constantly delivering what they actually want. 

The information you received from them upon signup should be studied carefully so you’re not sending anything they didn’t sign up for. If they want gift ideas, for instance, make sure you’re sending email about new products.

Lastly, Keep These Facts in Mind:

  • Tuesday has the highest rate of people unsubscribing to email lists.
  • But Tuesday also has the highest open rates
  • Friday has the top CTR rates
  • Suppressing people in your list who haven't engaged with your emails in over a year increases your deliverability rate by 3-5% immediately (Hubspot)

Writing that one little line might seem like an agonizing task. But incorporating some best practices into your email subject lines can help your email marketing stay out of the trash folder and help you stay on your customers' minds. 

Photo Credit: maxkabakov/iStock/Thinkstock

Filed Under: small business marketing, email subject lines, email marketing