It’s true — marketers don’t think about email open rates as much as they used to. Yet, to get your reader to the actual content of your email — to make that conversion — you have to get them to actually open the email. Their engagement starts with a subject line that captures their attention, one which they won’t simply swipe and delete.
If you struggle to write open-worthy subject lines, and your campaigns always seem to be sinking into a pool of failed marketing, don’t worry — you’re in good company because we can help. We think email subject lines should be on the minds of email marketers because they are tied directly to open rates. A subject line starts a reader’s experience with an email campaign, and in an increasingly distraction-filled world, it can also end their experience with it if it isn’t engaging enough.
The most critical factors to keep in mind
Two critical factors to keep in mind when creating your campaigns are your individual subscribers and the evolving trends around email. Never forget — people are actually seeing your emails in their inboxes … so, it’s important to remember that there’s another person on the other end, more than a statistic. The second factor is that brands need to readily adapt to how technology, marketing and conversational trends change over time. The dynamic quality of both human nature and advertising means that subject line best practices will continually evolve, so it’s up to you to stay abreast.
Six rules for engagement
The goal is to write great subject lines that engage your readers and get your emails opened — Here’s what you should consider when trying to write open-worthy subject lines for noisy inboxes in today’s digital landscape.
- Keep it short: Subject lines should be as short as possible but still contain enough information to get your message across. Knowing which email clients your subscribers use can be helpful, but this isn’t always possible. Keep in mind that mobile apps like Gmail will generally cut off anything after 40 characters unless the reader drags the notification down to expand the info.
- Segment your audience: Do not send the same generic subject line to your entire list. Instead, segment your list by different demographics or behaviors to create more relevant email subject lines for unique groups. This segmentation with your email subject lines should definitely help boost your open rates.
- Get personal: People expect personalized content. Beyond using each subscriber’s name, the best subject lines for open rates are crafted by using unique information you’ve collected about locations or interests. This information should be that which your subscribers have openly shared with you, directly to you — zero-party data.
- Be specific, yet concise: Which email are you more likely to open? “Yum, mac and cheese” or “Yum, bacon and white truffle mac and cheese.” People aren’t going to take the time to wonder if your email might interest them. Let them know what’s inside right away by getting specific with your subject line.
- Use language that evokes action: Make your proposition clear from the beginning — how do you want your readers to take action? What do you want them to do? Eat, shop, donate, wear, relax, listen? Use verbs that help readers visualize themselves taking action. However, make sure to avoid spam words.
- Send emails at the right time: In our 2022 Email Marketing Benchmarks Report, we analyzed over 100 billion emails sent across our platforms in 2021 to get the most comprehensive benchmark data and email marketing stats to date. Considering email statistics by day, there doesn’t seem to be too much variance in how emails perform on a given day. We ultimately found that weekdays, as usual, tend to perform the best. And, the lowest engagement numbers fall on the weekend.
Best days for sending emails
- Best day with highest email open rates: Monday (22.0%)
- Best day with highest click-through rates: Tuesday (2.4%)
- Best days with highest click-to-open rates: Wednesday and Tuesday (10.8%)
- Email unsubscribe rates were virtually identical throughout the week (0.1%)
Worst days for sending emails
- Worst day with lowest email open rates: Sunday (20.3%)
- Worst days with lowest click-through rates: Saturday & Sunday (2.1%)
- Worst day with lowest click-to-open rates: Friday, Saturday, Sunday (10.1%)
While this data is academically interesting, you should carefully consider your own audience and run email tests before blocking entire days off your campaign calendar.
Pivotal points for successful subject lines
- Keep the subject line short — between 7 words and 41 characters
- Make the subject line unique to the recipient
- Take the time to A/B test your subject lines
- Compare open rate data and make adjustments
- Craft a subject line you would open!
Write open-worthy subject lines that lead to conversions
To create successful subject lines — test them, optimize them, improve them. Use these essential tips to brainstorm, but don’t take this list as a series of steps for every subject line. Instead, shake up your go-to subject lines, and test some variations on this list to see what your audience responds to best.
To learn more about email testing, check out our blog on A/B testing. Or get the guide, The Ultimate Email Marketing Personalization Checklist.