If they don't open it they'll never know what's inside!. Brevity, clarity, and honesty are just three essentials for tempting your recipients to actively receive the brilliance you’ve dropped into their inbox.
Writing a high-quality subject line takes practice and know-how, so keep our top tips in mind before you send out your next newsletter or mailer:
Keep it short and snappy. Writing a subject line that is 50 characters or fewer is generally recommended, as some email clients might cut off longer subject lines. According to MailChimp, subject lines of 28–39 characters have the highest open rate.
Say what's inside. Don’t get hung up on being funny or clever; being direct with your recipients is way more effective. One study found that a clear subject line gets 541 percent more clicks than one that’s clever.
Create audience appeal. What does your mailing list have in common? What’s relevant to these recipients? It could be that these people all work in the same industry, have similar interests, or live in the same area. Work from the common thread but don't be so specific as to alienate some groups of recipients.
Hold back on the jargon. You don’t want to try to sell something in the subject line. Instead, convey a story or a benefit to the reader. Your subject line shouldn’t bombard the recipient with products, deals, or promises. Use the subject line to relate to the reader and steer him or her to the rest of your content—and ultimately your call to action.
Play the numbers game. Lists are an effective way to grab someone’s attention. We fall for these every time, whether it’s “5 Most Anticipated New Store Openings in 2014” or “10 Must-know Finance Tips.”
Don't be sneaky. Never trick someone into reading your email. Don’t use “Fwd:” in a subject line pretending it’s an email from a trusted sender. Don’t request help in the subject line—it’s a cry-wolf that triggers a scam-sense in the recipient. If someone feels betrayed by your subject line when they read the content of your email, the relationship won’t evolve.
Avoid triggering spam filters. Steer clear of words that may send your mailing to the depths of spam folder purgatory. “Free” is a one of the biggest offenders, as are “percent off,” “reminder,” and excessive punctuation.
Always double-check. You don’t want a spelling, grammatical, or factual error going out to 5,000 people at once and undermining your whole message before it's even been opened! Have you been on the receiving end of a subject line such as, “Correction: Sale starts Friday, not today,” or, “Update to previous email: event information included”? Retractions and follow-ups don’t look great for your brand, so proofread emails (including the subject line) thoroughly before sending.
Pay attention to your open rates. This is the biggest indication as to whether your subject lines are working the way you’d like. Research open rate stats online so that your expectations are realistic.
Mix it up a little. Are your open rates not where they should be? Think your subject lines are scaring off readers or customers? Tweak them. Rewrite them. Change them until you find subject lines (and supporting content) that work. Keep in mind, high rates could decline, and you might need to freshen up your mailings and subsequent subject lines periodically.
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