by Anna Wybieralska Jan 12, 2017

Your subject line directly influences whether or not your email is opened, find out how to create ones that work.

You may have heard that you should never judge a book by its cover, but let's face it, you do. The same thing happens to your email, it's judged by the first impression it makes on your recipient; your subject line directly influences whether or not your email is opened.

All the time, effort and research you put into the body your email will go to waste if your email isn't opened. Plan to develop, test and choose the best possible subject lines for your campaigns.

What makes a good subject line?

There are several distinct qualities that make an email subject line good. A subject line should be compelling without being pushy, informative without giving all the information away and relevant to the topic of your email without being boring. That is a tall order for a short phrase.

Whether you're sending marketing, sales or transactional mail, those qualities are still relevant to the construction of your subject line.

How to write good subject lines that people will click

Ideally, keep the subject line under 40 characters, any longer and you risk it being cut off, especially on mobile devices. You've heard this before, but more and more people will review their mail on their mobile device so it pays to accommodate the small screens.

Keep it real

Your email subject line should reflect what's in the email. If you've just sent a message for the first time to a new contact, don't suggest that you're catching up with them from a previous conversation that includes a spam trigger like "Re:". Instead, let them know what to expect by stating what the email is actually about. For example, if they downloaded your ebook, you can simply say "Your Ebook is here" or if a new contact has just opted into your newsletter, your first official mail to them might just be "Welcome {firstname}, enjoy your first newsletter now".

If you noticed, the language you need to use for an effective subject line is concise. Using a phrase like "Check this out" is not going to get as much attention as "100 Photographs that will inspire you". Using numbers or proposing an intriguing question are two additional ways to build succinct messages. Ask yourself what your email is going to do for your recipient and then build your subject line around the answer to that question.

Consider your subject line a call to action

Using a dynamic verb in your subject line can help create a mental picture for your recipient and encourage them to take action. What sounds more exciting - getting an email with the subject line "Jackfish Lake Cabin Rentals" or "Relax lakeside with our cozy cabin rentals". You can help your recipients imagine themselves resting and enjoying the view from the dock (or whatever action that's relevant to your email message) by just using a verb in your subject line.

Subject lines that are exclusive or point to social proof can help you increase your opens and clicks

Being an insider or part of a specific group is enticing, you can help create this feeling with your subject lines. A sense of belonging may encourage subscribers to become loyal to your brand, business or group. When they sign up, you might send them an exclusive email with the subject line "For new members only" or "Hi {firstname}, this is your private invitation" this helps your recipient feel special and can work wonders; everyone likes to feel unique and appreciated.

If you're able to use information from past conversions to help influence and encourage new contacts to interact with your emails then you're providing social proof that can increase your opens and clicks. Social proof is basically a way of showing that others have made a certain choice in a given situation. Knowing the actions of others can weigh heavily when new people or customers are asked to make a choice. Your subject line might say "3 out of 4 customers like you, bought this" if that is what your records indicate.

Suggest urgency or scarcity to promote taking action now rather than later

We've all gotten an email that says "Get 50% Off Today Only" and let's face it, we want to open it! There's a chance that something which wasn't on sale earlier, is now and we want to know about it. Emails that have time limits or limited supplies available can inspire your subscribers to open the email right away rather than waiting until later.

Remember they might see some preview text

The preview text may not be part of the actual subject line, but it's a very close neighbor. You should take time to choose what the preview text says or many email clients will automatically pull this content from your email body which may end up looking messy or be a missed opportunity. This text is a little extra tidbit for your readers and provides additional information at a glance regarding the content of your mail.

A few things not to do

Don't use ALL CAPS. Don't include spammy phrases like "free money" or use a lot of punctuation. Virtual yelling, deceptive content, irrelevant or impersonal spam-like mail and subject lines is a sure way to get your email ignored.

Finally, take a test or two

It's a lot easier than most homework assignments, we promise. Use A/X testing when you send out your next campaign. Not only will you get a chance to see your different subject lines in action, but you'll also learn more about what works for your unique subscribers. In addition, you'll sharpen your skills as an email marketer when you review and analyze your results.

Taking the time to practice, test and perfect your subject lines is worth it for building better and lasting engagement with your contacts.

Need something? Contact our Customer Success Team with your questions. We are happy to help!

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Anna Wybieralska

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