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How do you write a killer email subject line

How do you write a killer email subject line

By on Aug 3, 2017

Reading time: 4 minutes

Email marketing is weird…

But once you figure out, it’s very effective.

But first, your email has to get opened.

First things first, you need a great subject line

Spending a little extra time on your subject line will help you boost email open rates, avoid the junk folder, and get your message in front of the right people.

In that crucial make-or-break moment when users find your email in their inbox, the subject line is what determines whether they’ll open the email, or simply ignore it “for now”. Or even worse: delete your message.

Besides the “from” field, the subject line is the first thing people see and helps them decide whether to open the email or not.

When subject lines are written well, they inspire readers to open your email newsletters and click through to read more.

And that first impression matters. It sets the tone for the rest of your interaction with your reader.

That’s why subject lines are essential. You have to come up with a good one to:

  • Wake up curiosity
  • Show the benefits you are offering
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • And provide proof of your claims

Let’s look at some headline best practices to help you make a great first impression:

Keep it short

Why put in all the work of creating a good subject line if people can’t read it? Make sure your subject line doesn’t get cut short by keeping it under 40 characters, or about five to seven words. Anything beyond that won’t display in most email viewers

Plus, your readers scan their inbox quickly. Sometimes subject lines that use only a word or two can stand out from the rest and get the most engagement.

Don’t make false promises

Avoid the “too good to be true” subject line types as it looks like spam. Remember: to stay credible, you have to deliver what you promise in the subject line.

If you trick them and talk about something different than in the subject lines (the infamous bait-and-switch), people won’t open your emails, or worse: they will report you as spam.

Don’t sell in your subject line

Well, at least not always.

Another mistake is to make the subject line too sales-oriented. Instead of focusing on promotion, try offering your expertise and share information that your audience will find useful.

Use your subject line to wake up curiosity rather than put an offer in front of your readers.

Make it really valuable

Also, try to over-deliver in your emails. If people get value, they are more likely to open your future emails, giving you the opportunity to get sales, or build a relationship with them.

Make them happy

People want to know how their life will be better, easier, or more enjoyable because they read your email.

Personalize your subject lines

Using personalization tokens like name or location in the subject line adds a personal touch and creates familiarity – especially when it’s a name.

Just don’t go overboard with the personalization. That can be a little creepy. But little personalized touches here and there show that you care about your readers, and aren’t just out to collect their email address.

Make people feel special

The psychology of exclusivity is a powerful thing. When people feel like they’re on the inside, it gives them a sense of belonging that could build loyalty and encourage them open your emails more often.

A few ideas on how to phrase these:

“For our beloved customers only”

“An exclusive offer just for you”

“Private invite”

DON’T USE ALL CAPS or overuse exclamation points!!!

A subject line that says, “GET A FREE EBOOK” or “50% off our products today only!!!!!!!!” isn’t going to get your email opened. More likely the opposite: it’ll probably get your email ignored or deleted. Caps and exclamation points mean yelling in the digital world, and people don’t like to be yelled at.

Be smart about symbols

If you use too many symbols in your communications, you run the risk of your emails looking like spam, or depending on your audience, appearing immature or a “wannabe”.

However, if you are talking to an audience whose primary social media channel is Snapchat or Instagram, the use of symbols and emoji can be helpful in connecting with them.

This audience loves all the symbols and filters, so they will look familiar to them. It’s their language, but don’t talk to everybody this way.

A/B test your subject lines

It’s all about figuring out what works best for your specific audience. That’s where A/B testing comes in.

Asking your friends, family, and co-workers for their opinions is not always the best decision. You should constantly be A/B testing your subject lines. What works best for your audience: Long or short subject lines? Including numbers or not including numbers? Questions or statements?

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Related article:

70 Email Subject Lines 

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