Writing Email Marketing Subject Lines 101

Need to know how to write the most effective email marketing subject lines? Look no further!

Email marketing subject lines: the proverbial “foot-in-the-door” for brands who reach out to potential customers via email campaigns. It’s within seconds of viewing them that readers make the decision of whether or not they’re reading on any further. Consider the number of email subject lines a day that your potential customer sees--how will you compete against those for attention? How do you ensure that you’ve made enough of a mark on them that, given this one shot, they’ll choose to spend their precious time on reading yours?

Of course, coming up with engaging copy isn’t the only aspect of your subject line that requires attention. Make sure readers are familiar with the sender’s email address that it’s paired with, to ensure that your email is ever read in the first place. Obviously, one is less inclined to open something from a strange address, much less consider the subject line. At this point in the process, your mailing list should have been (or will be) properly segmented into the appropriate customer groups, as each might possibly require its own customized subject line. The subject line’s tone for an audience in the beginning part of a sales funnel will differ from that of a subject line later on, when a reader is more inclined to buy. Lastly, your subject line should be in sync with the time in which your mailing is scheduled to go out. Think about promoting a Black Friday sale; something this time-sensitive would be sent out at a very specific time of day, with a very direct subject, addressing very specific savings, and with the subject line reflecting this.

As far as writing actual email marketing subject lines go, here are the key things to remember:

  1. 1.       Length is Critical

Remember, most email platforms will only show the first 4 (sometimes 5) words in your subject line. On mobile, this number might decrease to 3 or less, depending on your phone, operating system, and app. Grabbing attention in as little as 4 words or less will be a skill you’ll pick up on, as you send out more and more email blasts.

  1. 2.       Personalize Your Messaging

You can do this in accordance with your list segments, the time of mailing, or even as narrowly as by customer name and order history. You’ve no doubt seen email subject lines addressing you by your name, offering up sales or discounts on the same/similar items you’ve purchased in the past. It’s remarketing at its most precise.

  1. 3.       Use Words That Express Urgency or Exclusivity

Beginning subject lines with actionable requests (like “Get These Before They’re All Gone…”) and similar calls-to-action help instill a sense of urgency. Making known that the offer they’re being sent is a “one-time offer” or “for a limited time” gives a sense of exclusivity to whatever lies in the email.

  1. 4.       Tease What’s Inside

In a day and age rife with spammy-sounding emails and clickbait headlines (like “You’ll Be Shocked At What This Mother Caught Her Son Doing...”), your email subscribers and potential customers deserve better. It’s okay to build suspense to appease to human curiosity, but letting them know what’s actually in the email will go a long in the way of trust-building. You don’t want people unsubscribing because they thought your suspicious-sounding email might potentially harm their computer...

  1. 5.       Represent Figures With Numbers Where Possible

○        It’s a fact: people love stats, figures, and lists. Using percentages (like “Take 50% Off Everything), comparative stats (like “Over 70% Of  Our Customers Agree…”), and lists (like “5 Items Crucial To A Tailgate Party”) naturally pique our curiosity and can lead to more opens.

  1. 6.       Ask a Question In Your Subject Line

Opening with a question gives you the chance to pick out a specific need or issue and address it directly, thereby ensuring your reader is already interested in what you’ve got to say. Imagine a hardware store’s email with “Is Misplacing Small Parts Becoming a Problem?” in its subject line, targeted to buyers who had previously purchased nails, bolt, or nuts in bulk. It’s a good chance these customers would be interested in the storage units being promoted in the email body.

  1. 7.       A/B Test Your Lines With The Different Segments

You’ll probably have a few final versions of your subject line, so testing them against each other will prove useful. You’ll also already have your customer segments broken down by now, but you can test more subject line variations by breaking those lists down even further. Better results may come from something as small as using a different call-to-action.

You’re now on your way to writing some of the most effective email marketing subject lines possible! To find out what to do next in your email marketing campaign (and how), subscribe to this series! Fill out the form below to gain access now.

How do you come up with your email marketing subject lines?  Leave a comment below.  I read every one.  

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