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15 email subject line tips that’ll ensure you never get sent to junk

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As much as we may hate to admit it sometimes, one piece of advice that rings true is ‘first impressions really do count’. 

This is true of all aspects of life, whether it’s in the person or online. 

The first interaction that you have with someone is, almost always, the most crucial. 

If you’re trying to reach out to a customer, you will need to grab their attention boldly, without being pushy. Communicate your message in a friendly, concise, and creative way. 

Email subject lines are the perfect example of this. They may be a short snippet of text, but they make a huge difference. They are the make-or-break factor between your email being opened and being promptly tossed in their virtual bin. 

Why are email headers important? 

It’s so disheartening when a campaign – which you’ve spent hours carefully crafting – gets completely ignored by your audience. 

Why are people not even bothering to click on it? The answer is simple – your email subject line doesn’t draw them in. 

Your audience gets spammed with constant emails, and a vast proportion of them get deleted after barely a glance. In fact, according to a piece of research by techjury, around 60 billion spam emails will be sent every single day from 2019 to 2023. This equates to half of all emails sent in 2019. 

As a result, it’s hardly surprising that the average email inbox has 200 unread, ignored emails. 

However, this is not to say that this form of marketing is not without its potential. DMA insight found that 99% of consumers check their email accounts once a day, minimum. 

There’s a huge pool of users out there, so your efforts have the potential to reap huge rewards. The key to success lies in not being one of the email senders that are ignored. 

Sounds simple, right? Well, with the help of a great email subject line, you’re off to a great start. 

You need to stand out from this crowd of email marketing by capturing the reader’s attention, sparking their interest, and intriguing them enough to make them want to click further. The other bonus is that people are far more likely to engage with your content with this positive first impression. 

So, the best way to make sure that your audience wants to read what you have to say is to create snappy, engaging, and impactful email subject lines. 

In this blog post, we’ll be sharing our top 15 tips for making email subject lines that stand out. 

Read on to make sure that you create subject lines that get your email campaigns seen. 

The Topic 

1. Spark their interest 

People are naturally curious, and if your email header sparks this intrigue, it’s far more likely to get opened. 

You could do this by tempting them with a hidden gift, a surprising piece of news, or a new product (for example) that you’re revealing HERE.

Create the impression that this email contains the answer to a big secret they’re personally invited to learn. 

Ideally, the reader should feel like this is a really exciting piece of news which you want to share with them (forgetting that your entire customer base is also receiving the same email). In short, make them feel special. 

2. Make it urgent 

If they don’t feel compelled to do something now, your customers probably won’t take any action to open your email. 

Avoid the campaign slipping to the bottom of their inbox by expressing urgency. 

If your email contains a deal, you could tell them that it’s ‘ending soon’ to ‘act quickly’ or that this is a ‘limited time offer’.    

Or, if your email is advertising a service, make it clear that your customers need it right now. 

3. Savings 

Savings speak for themselves. 

Offering discounts, savings, or limited offers is a great way to encourage people to open an email. 

The key is, however, don’t tell the full story in the subject line. Tell the audience enough to inspire their curiosity (as we mentioned above) so that they want to open the email to find out the details. Then, your call to action can have its most significant impact.

4. Emojis 

Emojis are great in small numbers. 

You should keep it limited to one or two (max) in your email subject lines if it’s in keeping with your brand’s tone of voice. Any more than that, and your subject line will look busy, cluttered or childish. 

5. Short and sweet 

To grab the reader’s attention, snappiness is essential. 

During a recent study about social media content, the average Facebook user that accessed content through their mobile devices spent just 1.7 seconds viewing each piece of content. 

People simply won’t bother to read them if they’re too long. 

The best email subject lines are to the point. Catchy email subject lines are, ideally, restricted to 50 characters or less. This will make your open rates far higher and also ensure that the heading isn’t cut off halfway on any devices. 

The Content

6. Add names

Nothing captures someone’s attention like seeing their name. 

If you’re using software like Mailchimp, you can add a data field that brings in the recipient’s name. You can do this both in the content and in the heading too. 

The reader’s eyes will be immediately drawn to seeing their name in their inbox. And, if the email feels like it’s personally reaching out to them, they’re far more likely to want to see what’s inside. It’s a great, quick way to boost your open rates. 

7. Use what’s current

Social media makes the world aware of everything that’s going on in the world. There are constantly new trends, current events, and viral stories that are spread across social media. 

So, use this world of ‘what’s hot’ marketing to your advantage, and use it to create good subject lines that are responsive, relevant, and on-trend.  

8. Keep it on-brand

If you’re constantly trying to appeal to your audience, you run the risk of looking desperate. 

Good email subject lines don’t make you sell yourself or your brand to get the audience’s attention. 

Have a clear idea of what your brand image is, particularly in your writing style and tone. Make sure that all of your email subject lines adhere to this tone. 

It could be cool, youthful, cocky, confident, modern, elegant or altogether different – just keep the tone of your subject lines consistent. 

9. Take inspiration

Not sure where to start? There’s a whole wealth of successful email campaigns out there, ready and waiting for you to learn from. 

Find out what other successful marketers are doing with their email newsletter headlines, and learn from them. 

For instance, take this email heading from beauty brand ELEMIS: Better Act Fast, This Summer Surprise Ends Soon.

The use of ‘Better Act Fast’ is a great way to spark urgency, and the idea of a ‘surprise’ certainly makes the reader curious. So be inspired by email subject lines that work. Adapt big brands’ successful ideas to use in your next campaign. 

The Strategy

10. Add personalisation 

Building on the personalisation fields tip above, you don’t have to limit this to just the recipient’s name.

The best subject lines deploy personalisation tactics to attract the audience. These include their age or location, hobbies, interests, spending habits or previous interactions. 

Use this knowledge to your advantage to create content that is far more likely to engage the individual. 

11. Think about the sender email 

An email that comes from ‘[email protected]…’ immediately looks distrusting. 

So, use a real name (ideally, your real name) at the start of your company email, and make that email address the sender email for the campaign. This shows a personal approach and makes your message look sincere. 

12. People love stats 

Stats, numbers, and figures (especially if there are offers involved) immediately interest people. 

So, if you want to make your email subject line more impactful, include a relevant number in it.

13. Questions = Drama 

You could raise a question in your subject lines (the answer to which can be found inside the email). 

Speculating email subject line examples include: 

  • Do you know how an Agile approach would fix your system? 
  • What are your Bank Holiday plans? 
  • Sick of battling with spreadsheets? 
  • On the hunt for a midweek treat? 

14. Bring humour 

Some people, especially small business owners, are afraid to bring humour to their subject lines – ‘What if I’m not funny?’. 

Well, puns are always a great place to start. They’re simple, silly, and show your audience that you’re a fun, honest brand. So, don’t be scared to get a little goofy. 

15. Don’t overdo it 

And finally, don’t take these tips too far. 

In your effort to make email subject lines that work, you may push it too much and go overboard. 

Don’t feel like you have to include every single one of these points in your heading. Just pick the most applicable ones for each campaign. 

Also, avoid being overly dramatic in a subject line. Loads of capital letters, numerous exclamation marks, or questions and exclamations in one sentence look like overkill. 

If in doubt, keep it clean and simple. 

Conclusion

And there you have it, our quick and easy email subject line best practices, which you can start applying straight away. 

As you go through the process, try A/B testing each campaign. This email subject line tester method will help you see what has the best effect on your audience. 

You could do this by trying different email marketing strategies in different campaigns. Or, you could do this in one campaign by sending two slightly different headings, with each one going to half of your audience. Then, monitor which was the more successful and use the most successful strategy again in the future. 

Now, you’re all set – put your marketing hat on and get writing. 

Infographic

email subject infographic

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