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6 | Minute Read

Emails are like books: we’re told not to judge them by their cover, but we do it anyway. Nailing the subject line can make or break an email marketing campaign. No matter how amazing the content of your email is, it simply won’t be seen if your email doesn’t stand out in a crowded inbox and entice recipients to click.

Writing subject lines can be a giant pain and a lot of pressure. The subject line is the first impression you make on your readers, and if it’s not a good one then you may find your emails ignored or relegated to the trash without a second glance. That one little sentence can make or break a campaign, so it pays to get it right. To help you nail your subject line every time, we’ve got 6 tips for success. And, because we’re feeling particularly cheery today, we’ve even got a suggested workflow!

To help you get the most out of email marketing, we’ve compiled some tips for creating engaging subject lines that lead to more clicks and better audience engagement.

9 Tips On How To Write Successful Subject Lines

1. Be blunt and concise.
You’ve only got a handful of characters (no more than 50 characters, not words!) to work with, so keep your clever puns for the body of the email. Clarity is key, just tell it like it is. Get straight to the point. You should be able to summarise almost any email in just a few words. Long subject lines are not only harder to read, but they also risk being cut off by the maximum display limit in inboxes and smartphone apps. There’s no hard and fast rule, but see if you can keep it within 50 characters.

2. Create curiosity, be compelling.
Your subject line has to compete with everything else pouring into your readers’ inboxes. Put your campaign at the front of the pack with a compelling subject line. Make your readers think they’ll miss out on something interesting or important if they don’t open your email.

3. Maintain trust and transparency.
Like everything you put out into the public sphere, your emails can affect your brand reputation. Be sure that your subject lines aren’t misleading or over-selling your content. Spam-wary readers will look at your sender name and subject line before opening, so make sure there’s no room for misinterpretation.

4. Stay relevant.
Sure, you might be publishing to several thousand recipients, but that doesn’t mean you should consider them a faceless mob. Treat each reader like an individual – use personalisations where possible, and speak to their interests and needs as a single reader.

5. Avoid being generic.
Don’t get lazy and stick with your working campaign titles. ‘SuiteTalking – February 2015′ isn’t very compelling. You put a lot of effort into your email content, so let your readers know what they’re in for!

6.  Bump your stats with an A/B Split Test.
Got a couple of options, but you’re not sure which will have the most impact? No problem, the A/B Split Test feature in the Suite will work it out for you. Choose your three strongest contenders, and the Suite will publish each to 10% of your total recipients. During the (adjustable) delay, the Suite will track the stats and then send the balance out with the most successful subject line.

7. Inspire action
A subject line is the hook that takes readers through to your call to action, and calling them to action is exactly what you’re trying to do. Using action words, or simply starting with a verb, helps create a far punchier message and prompts the reader to respond. If a sporting club was planning a meet and greet with players and fans, for example, a subject line of “Meet your favourite player this weekend” sounds more enticing than “Announcing player meet and greets for club members”.

8. Add a sense of urgency
While not applicable to all emails, giving your subject line a sense of urgency is a great way to encourage more clicks. Whether it’s adding a deadline, advertising a limited offer or providing a quick solution to a frustrating dilemma, urgency can be enough to instigate immediate action instead of apathy.

9. Pose a question
Your subject line should give the reader a taste of what’s inside and leave them hungry for more – posing a question can do just that. A question in the subject line can pique curiosity while making it clear that it can only be answered by opening the email, such as “Are you making these common marketing mistakes?”. You can also use a question to encourage action – such as filling out a feedback form – with lines like “How are we doing?”. Just be careful to ensure yours doesn’t sound too much like clickbait.

Putting It Into Practice

Here’s a simple workflow to get those creative juices flowing.

  • Set aside 15 minutes and try this next time: Sit down with your preferred writing setup – paper and pen, a blank document, whatever suits you.
  • Smash out several subject lines, roughly 6 or 7. Get them down quickly, don’t overthink the process.
  • Pause, and take a look at what you’ve got so far.

Choose your strongest contenders, leaving you with at least a list of 3. Edit your list, polishing and tweaking. Consider the length of each potential subject line. With this in mind, reexamine your list.

Are they still the strongest choices for their length? Shuffle your options around if you need to. If none of them jump out at you upon reassessment, don’t be afraid to scrap them all and start over! Narrow it down to your 3 best subject lines.

Use these to split test. You might like to test a particular aspect – if so, write a control subject line and 2 alternatives. How do you go about perfecting your subject lines?

Email marketing is not a one size fits all technique. It takes proper planning and review in order to be successful and achieve the desired outcomes for your business.

Is your business currently using email as part of your marketing strategy? Do you need help with creation, automation, or increasing engagement? Here at Swift Digital, we can help you with your email marketing lists by providing tips on email best practices to make your campaign a success!