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Best Tips to Craft Effective Email Subject Lines and Get Healthier Open Rates

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When it comes to crafting email subject lines, Piotr Zaniewicz, Founder of Right Hello, says, “good subject lines are like movie trailers.” If you want to reach your audience effectively, you need to: “highlight the best moments; tell a short story; intrigue everyone because [the elements] are perfectly put together.”

Good subject lines are like movie trailers.- Piotr Zaniewicz

And while it sounds a little tricky to do all of that in less than 50 characters (yes, some say there is a recommended limit), Zaniewicz also points out that the format is pretty standard. And once you figure it out, it will work every time. So, what does that look like? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Get to the Point

And while you’re at it, imply some urgency. While research is mixed on whether or not shorter is better, it is better because many people will read your email on mobile devices.

With a small screen size and a shorter attention span, saying what you need to in fewer words will be more likely to open your email. This is especially true if you associate the subject line with time pressure or a deadline. For example, Pacific54 sent out an email that was asking for help and implied urgency and had an open rate of nearly 50%.

2. Know Your Audience

Know Audience

Jodie North, Copywriter and Content Strategist, says that at the root of building better content and sending that out in an email as part of a content strategy, businesses need a better understanding of their target audience. When you create content, whether for an email or for your site, she advocates for the need to ask yourself, “What are their pain points?

How can your business help them? Where do they hang out?” Knowing all of these things helps you get to know your audience better and, in turn, craft email subject lines they will be able to relate to, resulting in them being interested in your email and opening it.

Once you have a better understanding of your audience, incorporate the following:

Use the right tone

Can you be funny, witty, and sarcastic, or do you need to be more serious and politically correct? Use an appropriate tone with your audience so that you can best reach them and not offend them.

Do personalize

Use merge tags to personalize your subject line and email body. Campaign Monitor showed that emails offering subject lines with the receiver’s name were 26% more likely to be opened.

Make them feel special

While (hopefully) a lot of people will be receiving the email you are sending, in addition to personalizing, you want to make the receivers feel special.

Your email list is coveted real estate for your business, and you should consider it an honor and privilege when someone gives you their address because it is likely coveted property for them as well! Reward them for this by making them feel special, offering bonus content to email subscribers, creating special private invite events, or giving them advanced access to courses, eBooks, and other content.

3. Be honest

Do not fill a subject line with false promises. Your email subject lines are a commitment: when the receiver opens the email, they will find what you committed to from the outside on the inside. If this isn’t the case, and you don’t follow through, you will lose trust, authority, future opens, and ultimately, members on your list.

4. Build curiosity

Build Curiosity

The trick with an email if you want people to open it! This means you want them to be curious about what is inside while still offering them enough information that they will think it is worth their time to open it. Focus on keeping in line with your brand and avoiding making the subject line too obscure (spam alert!), while still trying to imply to the receiver that they can benefit from opening the email and seeing what it has to offer.

5. Bring in psychology

You know that the email you are sending has a lot of value to your readers and that they will miss out on valuable content or early bird launch specials without opening it. But you need to make them understand this as well. Use scientifically based theories, like loss aversion, to bring in more people. The idea that the email contains time-sensitive content is often useful in getting a response, but be careful not to overuse this tactic, as you will dilute its effects.

6. Ask

A compelling question is for help, insight, or someone’s time. Sometimes, the best way to get someone to open your email is simply to ask for something, simultaneously piquing their curiosity and targeting our natural human desire to please others or fulfill requests.

And finally, don’t forget the test, test, test!

Most email subscription services offer you the opportunity to test one or two subject lines (A/B testing), and by all means, take advantage of this! It will help you understand what type of email subject lines your audience responds to the best, as well as give you a strategy for moving forward. With this, you can create consistent email subject lines for every piece of correspondence that get opened (almost) every time.


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