6 Ways to Improve Your Email’s Subject Lines

Massive email marketing campaigns are a great way to get more eyes on your newsletter or website since you can reach thousands of people at once. However, your campaign won’t be successful if nobody opens your message. According to Madison Logic, over 122 billion emails are sent an hour, so knowing how to stand out from the crowd is important.

Your email’s headline is arguably the most important part of the message since it’s the part readers will see first and make a split-second decision whether opening the message is worth their time. Headlines that aren’t interesting will quickly be marked as read or deleted. In fact, copywriter coach Chris Marlow claims that studies have proven that headlines are responsible for 50-75% of an ad’s success.

Knowing just how much of your campaign’s success rests on the headline alone, it’s important that you really take the time to examine how effective your headlines are. Here are a few great tips to craft better headlines:

Personalize your subject line.

A study by MailChimp examined about 24 billion emails and found that subject lines with the recipient’s first and/or last name were opened more often than those without. The most effective emails had both the first and last name, though those which only used the last name were strangely more effective than emails that only used the first name.

The power of first name personalization varied based on industries. Personalized emails sent to those in the government were opened 92% more often than usual while there was 45% difference for the creative services/agency industry. There were positive effects in all sorts of industries such as software, art, retail, and entertainment, but proved to be ineffective in the legal industry with a -31% open rate.

Create a sense of urgency.

A headline that compels the user to read right away will surely be opened. Such a headline tells the reader that there is some important information within the email that needs to be read right away and can’t be put off until later.

The aforementioned MailChimp study found that the following words results in a higher open rate:

  • Urgent: 79%
  • Breaking: 68%
  • Important: 55%
  • Alert: 31%

Note that Adestra similarly found that “alert” lead to a 61.8% increase in open rates.

You could also give a deadline with phrases like “today only” or “last chance” to make sure that they know they must act now.

Make them feel special. 

Much like how adding a first and last name to a subject line makes the email feel more personal, so too does adding phrases that make the email sound like it’s exclusively for the reader. Headlines such as “An exclusive offer just for you,” “For your eyes only,” or “A message for our dear customers only” makes the reader know that this message is just for them or their group of people.

Keep it short and simple.

Your subject line should ideally be 6-10 words, under 50 characters, and provide a description of what the reader can expect in the message. People are used to receiving an overabundance of emails and won’t want to waste any time on something that doesn’t immediately meet their needs. Subject lines that are too vague or too detailed won’t be opened very often.

Short headlines are especially important when considering that 40% of emails are opened on mobile and that longer headlines will get cut off. You can shorten your headline by using contractions and not spelling out numbers. (i.e. “don’t” instead of “do not” and “45” instead of “forty-five”)

Capitalize each word.

MailChimp found that capitalizing each word in the subject line lead to a 7% increase in open rate while only capitalizing at least one word lead to a -1% open rate. These numbers are small, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. If you have a very large mailing list, the small percentage points can translate to hundreds or thousands of consumers.

Use an A/B test.

You will likely reach a situation where you have multiple headlines you would like to use, but can’t decide which one is best. You should A/B test them by sending them to segments of your mailing list. Collect some data and then send out the winning headline to the rest of your list.

Make sure to keep as many factors as consistent as possible. For example, if you sent Headline A at 2:00 AM and Headline B at 9:00 AM, you shouldn’t be surprised if there’s a stark difference in open rates.

Using the right headline hacks can exponentially improve your marketing success. You should use MailChimp, Constant Contact, or another email marketing service to send out your emails, track statistics, and watch your numbers grow. You can find more useful marketing tips with my done-for-you service.

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