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How to Write the Best Subject Lines for Your Emails

About 35% of email users decide which emails to open based on the subject line alone. This means your subject lines could be some of the most important content you ever write! 

Of course, email readers are a fickle bunch. They scan their inboxes, opening just a few things here and there and ignoring the rest. Sometimes they batch delete emails, unread. In fact, 21% report emails as spam even when they know it’s not.

But the good news is that 58% read their email as soon as they wake up and about 20% check their email more than 5 times per day. Everybody’s on the lookout for interesting messages, so here are 3 subject line best practices that will help you catch their attention.

3 Tips for Writing a Good Subject Line

1- Be helpful.

The worst thing you can do is waste their time. Show them your email is worth opening by putting something helpful right in the subject line. If it’s an invitation to an upcoming IT event, say, “IT execs, August 15 is the big launch” or if it’s about a new product they’ve shown interest in, tip them off by saying, “Just arrived: Your super productivity booster!”

2- Get personal.

People are irresistibly attracted to their own names. Even if they’re skeptical, seeing their name catches their attention for the split-second it takes to open an email. Try something like, “Laurie, this discount is just for you” or if you don’t know their name, refer to a shared experience like, “Hello again! We loved seeing you Thursday.”

3- Stay clever.

To stay connected with your audience, stay clever. You don’t have to tell dad jokes, but it helps to have catchy email subject lines. Try something like, “It’s Friday. You’re bored. Let's start an adventure!” Or make a silly appeal to their ego: “OMG, you’re a genius. Here’s why.”

What NOT to do in a Subject Line

Like saying the wrong thing at a party, saying the wrong thing in a subject line drives people away. Let’s look at a few things to avoid. 

1- Don’t use a cold email subject line for cold emails.

Sometimes you have to send emails as part of cold calling. But it doesn’t mean the message has to actually sound cold, robotic, or overly formal. Avoid stuffy subjects like, “This is a very important message regarding products produced by …”

2- Don’t lie in sales email subject lines.

Be truthful and specific. Say, “30% off new orders! Ends tomorrow.” But don’t exaggerate beyond belief. If you say, “BIGGEST SALE EVER, everything is practically FREE” people may ignore it because it sounds pushy and too good to be true.

3- Don’t be too wordy.

Keep it short - about 60 characters or less, ideally. About 35% of business professionals check email exclusively on mobile and 85% of all people use mobile for most of their email communication. Mobile email usually shows just 5 or 6 words.

Remember the Power of Preview Text

Most email applications show at least a partial sentence of preview text. It helps people decide whether to open your email, so it’s worth a bit of extra thought.

Think of the preview text like a subhead or a brief “elevator pitch” about your email. It should have a sense of urgency and show why it’s important that they take a moment to view this message. Keep it under 15 words.

For example, if you’re following up with people who abandoned their cart on your e-commerce page, the preview text might say something like, “Oops! Forget to finish your first order? Here’s $5 off …”

See if Your Subject Lines Get Good Grades

Okay, so now you wrapped up your email, wrote the preview text, and gave it a great subject line. Did you know there’s a way to check how good your subject line really is? 

Try out the subject line grader tool. It checks your length and scans for emotionally powerful words. Plus, you get the secret thrill of trying to score 100! 

And if you need a bit more help with writing compelling emails, 11outof11 is always here with email marketing tips and expert advice.

Request a complimentary call with an 11outof11 marketing expert

Topics: Market Your Small Business, Content Marketing, Email Marketing