How to Write Effective Subject Lines for Email Marketing

The importance of email marketing is indisputable. But how you execute your email marketing strategy is what determines the success of the campaign. Just sending emails regularly won’t do the trick. You need to dedicate your attention to details that can make or break your email marketing such as the subject line.
Kristin Savage
Kristin Savage
Copywriter
Published:
October 01, 2019

Consider that 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. You can spend countless hours perfecting your email content but if you don’t write an effective subject line it can all go to waste. That is why the following tips will help you write that perfect subject line that no one can resist.

Put the reader in focus

People can pretend to be modest, but if you look at successful marketing strategies you’ll realize that everyone prefers when the focus is on them.
This simple yet effective element of the subject line can help you attract your users’ attention.
Instead of writing:

  • Today starts our 20% off sale

Go for an option such as this:

  • You can save 20% of your money if you check this sale now!

Just think about which subject line of the two you would rather see in your inbox. And there is your solution. Remember to make it all about the users. It can be your winning formula.

Play on the urgency card

Adding an element of urgency or limited availability evokes the fear of missing out. Marketers often try to provoke that feeling in their target audience and get them to act on the offer right away.
Fear of missing out gets people to make instant actions without thinking rationally just so that they don’t miss out on a great offer.
As a digital marketer, consider using this technique in your subject line.
Consider these two subject line examples:

  • Check out this offer NOW before the clock strikes midnight
  • Check out this new offer

Which of the two would get you to click on the email as soon as possible?
Action words like now, (today, weekend) only, urgent, limited edition, and so on can help you execute this plan efficiently.

Add a touch of personalization

Personalized content is always emphasized in marketing because it is proven that personalization responds well in any content form. Subject lines are no exception.
The statistic shows that emails that include the first name of the recipient in their subject line had a higher click-through rate than those that don't.
With personalization elements such as that, you can get the recipient on your side.
Most of your readers encounter dozens of emails each day, so the one with their name in the subject line will stand out in the sea of generic ones.
Segmenting your email subscribers will also help you to personalize the subject line. Sending offers about women’s new clothing collection to male users doesn’t have a point.
Categorize your users based on their demographics and preferences.

Make it short and simple

Nowadays, people mostly access their emails over their phones. Which means that their attention will automatically go to the short subject line.
Our subconscious mind signals that a short and concise subject line indicates a short and direct email content so we tend to navigate towards those emails first.
Overdoing the subject line is one of the most basic email marketing mistakes you can make. If your reader sees a lengthy subject line, he might not even bother to read it.
A subject line that has up to 50 characters will help users to spot your email during the skimming process.

Keep it closely related with the email content

Receiving an email with a subject line that indicates one thing and email content that tells a completely different story can be very irritating.
While this tactic may work for improving your click-through rates, it won’t get you any conversions. As a matter of fact, it can actually make your users look at your emails as spam and block you.
Make sure that your subject line gives an insight to the recipients about what they can expect from the email.

Remember the important dates

Not every email should be sales-oriented. If you really want to create a connection with your audience and build your loyal army, use your emails as a reminder of special days.
Send emails to your customers on holiday and birthdays. Don’t forget to include their first name in the subject line.
You can even go a step further and sprinkle some emotion by writing something like this: Happy birthday to our beloved customer! Simple gestures such as these will make users look at your brand differently. You can even send out an email for some fun holidays like “I Forgot Day” (July 2nd). Create interesting content around it and your readers will love such an authentic approach.

Ask a question

Questions are a great way to draw the reader in. By asking a question in a subject line you will pique the curiosity of the reader and he’ll want to know more.
It comes naturally to us that once we see a question we start to feel the urge to get the answer. Take a look at all the articles and blog posts titles that end with a question mark. Believe me, that’s not a coincidence.
Look at how IKEA applied this tip to their subject line:

Where do all these toys go?

This subject line is both unique and open-ended. Learn from their examples and start asking some questions.
Bonus tip: Avoid using both the question mark and exclamation point in the same subject line because it can be marked as spam.

Some final thoughts

Drafting a great subject line can be a daunting task. When you realize how important this single line of text can be, it will completely change your perspective. An effective subject line demands some thoughtfulness and carefully chosen words.
As you could see from the above-mentioned tips and techniques, creating a compelling subject line demands some effort. However, once you absorb all the knowledge and get into the routine of writing effective subject lines, the results will show you why marketers devote so much attention to it.

Written by
Kristin Savage
Copywriter

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at GrabMyEssay.

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