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You receive hundreds of emails every day, from coupons to newsletters, to daily deals, to your grandmother wanting to chat. It’s difficult to open them all.

With inboxes flooded with daily marketing messages, how do you decide what to open? More often than not, it’s the subject line. The subject line is your email’s very first impression (or last).

Since the overall performance of your email oftentimes hinges on the open rate, a catchy subject line needs to entice a click and, if you’re lucky, convert a customer.

So are you ready to develop an impactful subject line that packs a punch and isn’t sent straight to the dreaded trash folder? Read on to discover why subject lines are so important and how you can create an effective one.

What is an email subject line?

The subject line is the single line of text that appears in your inbox and displays the email’s purpose. Think of a subject line as a preview or brief summary of what your subscriber can expect from the email.

There are many different writing styles you can use to entice that click, but it depends on your messaging. Here are a few examples:

  • Informational: “Marketing Summit July 18”
  • Personal: “Great to meet you at Marketing Summit, Beth!”
  • Urgent: “3 days left to register”
  • Question: “What’s next for marketing in 2020?”
  • Controversial: “Why your emails aren’t opened”

How to write an email subject line

Now that you know what a subject line is, it’s time to start writing them for your company or brand. Here are a few tips to help:

Keep it concise and clear.

The subject line needs to be fewer than 50 characters to ensure the email client won’t cut the text off and that the reader will actually read the entire line. This is particularly important for those reading emails on mobile phones. Lululemon plays into this rule with only 13 characters and symbolizing a yoga flow.

53% of emails are opened on a mobile device

Include personalization.

Most people love the idea that brands are thinking of them individually. Using a specific name or location in the subject line has proven to have a higher open rate than those without it. Take this example from Ticketmaster, where they specifically call out the subscriber’s first name and then link to regional concerts within the email.

Use action verbs.

Verbs typically have a higher engagement rate because they promote direct action from the subscriber. Noodles & Company does a great job of not only utilizing a pun, but also letting the subscriber envision eating a bowl of noodles.

Ask subscribers a question.

Asking a question is a compelling way to draw readers to take action. Questions not only help pique curiosity, but can also create urgency.

For instance, P.F. Chang’s plays into most people’s desire to order out on a Monday instead of cooking by asking, “Long weekend?”

How to measure an email subject line

Analyzing the success of your subject line is imperative in order to understand what’s engaging for your subscribers and how to tweak the writing in your next campaign. While many email metrics are essential, the open rate is the most important way to see if your subject line is working.

You want your open rate to stay steady or increase over time. If you start to see this rate dropping, it may be time to update and test different subject lines.

Does it really matter?

While subject lines are oftentimes an afterthought after email design, they really do matter. If you want your emails noticed and not moved into the trash folder, paying attention to this text is critical for your email campaign’s overall performance. In fact, subject lines that get lost in the inbox shuffle are unlikely to have any sort of positive campaign results.

What now?

Subject lines are imperative in an email’s anatomy in order to receive a high open rate. They need to be impactful and memorable to catch your subscriber’s attention and hopefully convert them into future customers. Now that you know how to write a subject line, it’s time to work on the actual email’s design. Learning how utilizing CTA buttons can increase your click-through rate.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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