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5 Tips for Writing Better Email Subject Lines

By Ashley Orndorff, aka Marketing Geek businessperson checking email on phone and laptop

Email can be a great tool for connecting with customers, building relationships with them, and also growing your business. But, in order to connect with people through email, they have to receive it and open it first. Several factors affect whether someone opens your email, but the subject line often makes the difference between an open and a deletion. Here are a few tips for writing better email subject lines:

1. Keep it Short and Descriptive

Writing a good subject line is one of the email marketing tips for more effective emails. And, one of the hallmarks of a good subject line is that it accurately describes what’s in the email and is also concise.

There isn’t a lot of space available in someone’s inbox, especially when up to 77% of email opens are on mobile devices, so your subject line needs to get to the point before it gets cut off. If you fill your subject line with fluff and put the important stuff at the end, it’s likely to be too long and people won’t see the most important parts of your message.

Determine the main benefit of your email and figure out how to describe it and entice someone to click in as few words as you can. Keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it descriptive. Sticking to around 56 characters or fewer or 5-6 words is generally a good approach.

You can make your subject line longer as long as you know that whatever you put after 50 characters or so may not be seen by anyone. Also, be aware that a subject line that is too long, depending on its content and other factors, may cause your email to get caught in spam filters.

If you truly have a lot you need to feature, try breaking it up between your subject line and preview text. The preview text is what follows the subject line when your email is listed in someone’s inbox. It can be a useful place to enhance your subject line further.

Here, too, you don’t want to rely on someone seeing it or reading it. But, it does offer a little more space to elaborate or add to what you mention in your subject line. It’s also useful if you want to keep your subject line shorter as an enticement and then offer more description in the preview text.

2. Leave Room for Personalization

When it comes to marketing to and connecting with customers, a little bit of personalization can go a long way. Too much personalization can be creepy, but a little can make your customers feel valued. When it comes to email, including their name in the subject line can increase open rates as much as 20%.

You will want to test this with your emails. Depending on your audience, they may respond better or worse to their name in the subject line. For some people, a name in the subject line may come across as a spam email or marketing email they don’t need and they may respond better to their name in the copy of the email itself.

For others, having their name in the subject line may entice them to open the email more often than a subject line without it. Ignoring personalization is one of the email marketing mistakes to avoid, but your audience may respond to certain types of personalization better than others. So, it’s important to test it to find what works best for you.

3. Avoid Sounding Like Spam or a Pushy Sales Pitch

Email spam and email scams are common. The last thing you want to do is have a subject line that makes your email seem like one of them. Using all caps, especially when offering something for FREE, doesn’t usually entice someone to open an email and can trigger spam filters.

On top of that, people are busy and they don’t want to deal with pushy salespeople. If your email’s subject line comes across as a pushy sales pitch or an offer that is too good to be true, it will likely cause your email to end up unopened and in the trash. You do want to create a sense of urgency, especially with limited time offers, but getting it wrong can hurt your open rate.

4. Write Multiple Subject Lines and Test Them

Writing good subject lines takes time and effort. There are a lot of tactics you can use to craft a compelling subject line like using numbers, starting off with action-oriented verbs, asking a question, making a joke, and more. Some tactics may be a better fit for some emails over others, but you’ll likely be able to use several of them on an email. The trick is knowing which one to use.

That’s where testing can help you. By writing multiple subject lines before you send an email, you can narrow the selection down to a few of the best. Then, you can run some A/B tests on the subject lines you have to determine which one your audience responds to the best. You can also re-write a subject line and resend an email a few days later in order to reach people who didn’t open the first time.

You don’t want to blast people’s inboxes or send so much email that you get blacklisted from sending, but you do want to test your subject lines and re-send to the segment of your list that may have missed the first one. Depending on how much email your audience usually gets and how often they check their email, this waiting period before re-sending could be a couple of days or it could be a couple of weeks – it all depends on the demographics and behaviors of your target audience.

5. Check Grammar and Spelling Before Sending

Email is notorious for grammar mistakes, spelling errors, broken links, and more. When it comes to email marketing for your business, the emails your customers see are a reflection of your brand.

One of the best business email etiquette tips is simply to read and review your email before you send it, including the subject line and preview text. Read it out loud or have someone else read through it for any glaring grammar or spelling mistakes. Use a tool like Grammarly or Hemingway as well, but don’t rely solely on them as they don’t catch everything.

Send a test email to yourself to preview the subject line, email copy, and overall design. Also, test all links to make sure they are working and pointing where they’re supposed to go. If you’re including a coupon or discount code, make sure it works before you send it out and that your checkout is equipped to recognize it.

By going through an editing and testing checklist before you hit send or schedule to send, you can make sure your email reflects well on your brand and is poised to help make every open and click count for your business.

Email can be a valuable tool for your business and a good subject line is one of the essential elements of a great email campaign. With these tips for writing better email subject lines, you can help make sure all the effort you put into creating and sending those emails pays off. Good subject lines often mean your emails are opened and clicked instead of getting caught in spam filters, ignored, or deleted. You may even be able to generate more leads with email marketing.

Oftentimes, the emails you send to customers and potential customers are meant to bring them back to your website. But, if your website isn’t up to par, it can drive them away and render your email efforts ineffective. If it’s been a while since your website was last updated, it may be time for a redesign. Contact us for a meeting fo the MINDs to talk about how we can get your website back on track and performing for your business!

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