Tips for crafting a killer subject line

Email, Subject Lines, Tips

One of the first things that is important to focus on to improve your results from email marketing is your subject line. You can invest 1000s of hours ensuring your email message is right, your images look lovely and your links are all correct but if your subscribers aren’t opening your emails then you’re pretty screwed.

The main reason your subscriber will open your email? A killer subject line! Which is why I’m giving you some tips of things to try to impulse your audience to invest their precious and limited time in what you have to say.

1. Try using emojis

This is something I am personally a huge fan of: try adding an emoji to your subject line. Emoji are a really easy a creative way to jazz up your subject line. It will draw your audience’s attention in your inbox amoung all the boring text. This is a really nice touch, especially if it fits well with the theme of your email. Here’s one from ASOS that works really well with the theme but remains subtle:

Don’t just throw emojis in willy nilly! Make sure they are appropriate and don’t overdo it. We want to be tactful, not look like a preteen texting their BFF. For most audiences emojis are going to go over fine, but as for anything with your emails ensure to keep your audience in mind. If your audience happens to be 80 -year-old seniors they probably won’t appreciate an emoji (or know what it is). 🤷

2. First name personalisation

There is no question that personalising your emails in any way how will increase your engagement of your audience with your emails. What better way to impulse someone to open your email then to include their first name in your subject line. Suddenly, you are speaking directly to them as if you are their friend writing them a personal email.

So throw their name in there, but make sure that it makes sense! Don’t throw it in the middle of sentence where it doesn’t belong in the sentence. Make sure it flows and sounds natural. Another pro tip – make sure to account for what will happen if the first name is blank in your database. Otherwise, if this is the case you will have a blank space. Probably pretty rare if your data is clean, but looks ugly when it happens!

3. Throw in some urgency

There is an age old sales tactic called the fear of loss which uses the fact the humans are wired to panic when they link they are going to lose something. I could give you countless examples of this being used in marketing: Limited time only, countdown timer, sale ends midnight, etc. This is critical to human nature and starts very young. That bunny toy your toddler never plays with? Give it to another child and suddenly they want it desperately.

Sorry all, but adults work the same way. Tell someone they might lose the discount? They are suddenly willing to take action. Using words like hurry, ending, don’t miss out, etc. will add some urgency to your subject line and encourage your subscriber to take action and open your email.

4. Tell them to open it

We should all be a little bit more forthcoming in this world. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I’m Canadian so we literally never say what we really mean or want due to fear of hurting someone’s feelings. My husband is Dutch, so he doesn’t give a crap and always says what he means. I’d like to think we’ve landed somewhere in the middle (marriage is all about compromise people!). Point is, tell your subscriber what you want them to do! Open your email – they might just listen.

It’s actually been shown in studies that people need to be told what to do. It really can be as simple as the language you use. People are more likely to do the thing you want if you give them explicit instructions as to what you want them to do. Your subject line serves one purpose only, to get your subscriber to open that email. So why not just tell them what you want?

5. Don’t be too click baity

I’m not going to lie to you, you will probably see a huge spike in open rate if you use something click baity. This is great for social media, but with email you are trying to have a conversation with your audience and build trust. Ultimately, you are not taking the right steps to building the relationship with your audience. And easy comes, easy goes – the next time they won’t fall for it and your open rate will be even worse off than it was before.

I was actually really impulsed to open this email. Since I’m Canadian, I have no idea what a stone is but I do think I’d like to lose one in 3 weeks! When I read the email, they weren’t actually giving tips on how to lose a stone in 3 weeks at all. I felt annoyed! Lied to! Don’t do this to your subscribers. Please.

6. Ask a question

Ask your audience a question that you are going to answer within you email. Questions can be really impulsive if you want to know the answer to it. So do make sure that it is something that would be interesting to your audience and that they would actually want to find out the answer to.

I was actually really keen to open this email because I was genuinely curious about the answer. This was a weekly blog email which you had to click through to the website to read the actual blog post. So not only did I open the email, but I clicked through to the website AND actually read the blog post! Now how is that for effective?!

7. Make them take ownership

Using terms like your, you’re, yours, etc. can be incredibly simple but incredibly powerful. Suddenly, they are taking ownership over the content that you are sharing. They are not THE top 5 deals, they are MY top 5 deals. This will make them feel like the content has been created specifically for them and therefore will be more likely to open it.

8. Try something cheeky

If your brand will allow it, try something a little bit cheeky or funny. I’ve often seen emails where subject lines make very bold statements like: ‘I lied to you’ or ‘I’m so sorry, I messed up’. These types of subject lines can be very mysterious and leave your subscribers wanting to find out what it is all about. Or try something funny or a pun like below:

I, personally am I huge sucker for puns so this subject line/preheader combo really worked for me. Trying testing the limits of your audience by being a little bit off beat or joking around a bit. Most people have a sense of humour and probably will appreciate a little diversion from the everyday mundane! Why so serious?

9. Keep it short, stupid!

People are going to decide whether they are going to open your email within .002 seconds. People these days have no attention span. We require small pieces of information we can digest quickly. So make sure you keep your subject line short and sweet. No one is going to read it if it is too long and in most devices it is going to be cut off anyway. The rule here generally is keep your subject line to a maximum of 50 characters.

10. Slow down on all caps

Nobody likes to be yelled at. You might think that you are going to stand out and grab their attention if YOU GIVE THEM A SUBJECT LINE IN ALL CAPS, but let’s be honest here. We’ve all been there were we’ve sent a message to someone in all caps and quickly corrected ourselves, whoops sorry didn’t mean all caps. This is because it is uncomfortable to write in all caps when communicating with someone. It’s too aggressive. Back off bro.

Creating the perfect subject line is not easy, but the good news is since you email your list on a regular basis (or it least you should be), you have plenty of chances to get it right. There is nothing wrong with change. So go on, try something new and incorporate one of these tips in your next email blast!

Where do I start?! 😱

I get it, trying to sort out your email marketing can be really stressful! You’re not really sure where to start and it all seems a bit overwhelming. Put your mind at bit at ease and download my totally FREE email course, ‘7 things you can do NOW to optimise your emails‘, which will give you 7 things to do now to give yourself a head start!

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