subject lines

10 Successful Strategies for Subject Lines

Email is a hugely cost-effective marketing method. It’s a near universal digital asset, with 94 percent of the world’s Internet users having an email address (and most checking it daily). However, your promotional emails can’t work in your favor if people don’t open them. That’s why you need to pay attention to the subject line. About one in 10 emails from purchased lists are opened. To make yours among those that get read, keep these tips in mind:

1. Don’t Oversell.
Aggressive come-ons that include ALL CAPS, exclamation points and overly “sales-y” language can significantly reduce your open rates. In fact, some words and symbols can land your email directly in the spam box, where it likely will be deleted unseen.

Instead, go for an informative approach. Use wording that is intriguing without being over the top. For instance, if you have a 25 percent-off sale to advertise, choose a subject line such as, “Twenty-five percent off; discount codes inside,” instead of, “25% off!! Limited time, open NOW!” The first is more likely to get past the spam filters and more likely to entice the recipient to open.

2. Inform and Educate Your Recipient.
We don’t like being on the receiving end of a sell, but most of us do enjoy receiving new information that benefits us. The subject lines that were most successful in a recent marketing study were those that stated the email’s contents with little fanfare. The name of your company and the contents should appear. “ABC Accounting July Tips Newsletter” is more likely to entice than “Save 50% NOW!”

3. Keep Mobile in Mind.
More and more, we open emails on our tablets and phones instead of on our desktop computers. To ensure that your entire subject line gets through, keep the character count low. A truncated subject line robs you of your chance to get your message across. Think of your subject line like a newspaper headline: put the most important words first and keep it short and easy to scan.

4. Personalize to connect.
When appropriate and possible, include details that personalize your subject line. For instance, local tie-ins tend to lead to higher open rates. If you are a brick-and-mortar business, a subject like “Tampa In-Store Demos” could draw readers to the email and into your store.

5. We Love Lists.
List-oriented headlines are winners with curious readers. Enumerated lists promise content that is informative and can be easily scanned by a busy reader. These lists can be either informative or promotional. “Top Five Autos for Summer” or “Seven Ways to Increase Your Sales” both inform the reader of what’s inside and communicate that this will be a quick read.

6. Match Your Subject Line to Your List.
A prospect who subscribed to an informative newsletter will probably be leery of an all-caps email subject line promising a sale. A person who signed up for deal alerts may or may not care about your monthly newsletter. To increase your open rate and reduce the number of people who unsubscribe, make sure the subject line falls within the expectations of the person who is receiving the list.

7. Try unusual and surprising approaches.
Most people receive dozens of emails every day. Try doing something a little different to see if it increases your open rate. For example, try using questions in your subject line. “Is Your Marketing ROI Above Average?” is something that every marketer or small business has wondered. Curiosity about the answer may get your prospect to read more.

8. Use Brackets to Communicate More Quickly and Concisely.
An email subject line like, “Improve your LinkedIn ROI [Tool]” or “[Seminar] Learn to Sell on Facebook,” gives the recipient an idea what’s inside without wasting a lot of characters. This sort of economy leaves you with more characters to use to convince people to click and see what you have to say inside.

9. Use Action-Oriented Words.
“Marketing tool” lacks the excitement of “Accelerate sales with our tool.” Whenever possible and appropriate, use words that tell your reader what your offering can do for them. You only have fractions of a second to capture their interest. Use them well by utilizing words that describe the contents in a way that resonates with your audience.

10. Test and Track to Learn What your Audience Likes Best.
Try longer versus shorter, personalized and localized versus generic, rhetorical versus descriptive. Over time, you will learn what your audience is looking for — and be better able to provide it.

When you incorporate these tips and tricks, you significantly increase your chances of getting opens and clicks on the emails you send. Over time, this can significantly increase your sales, making email one of your strongest online marketing tools.

Paul de Fombelle

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