By David Holland

November 4, 2016


How to Create Subject Lines that Increase Open Rates

Some say email marketing is dead and that it has to be left cold for good but statistics have their own words. According to analysis of data from digital marketers, 25% of their revenues are from email marketing. That being said technically means that you need to continue investing your time and efforts toward email marketing.

Speaking of which, you probably already know the power of subject lines when it comes to your conversion goals. It is a necessity to craft subject lines that will catch your reader’s attention; something credible enough to tick their curiosity to give time and find out what’s inside your email.

You want the reader to open your message so they can read that amazing copy you created but, that’s not a piece of cake task. You see, an average email owner receives about 100 emails per day and most of these messages are from marketers like yourself. Promotional and marketing emails are never a priority to anybody. The brain has its own ways of sorting out which email to click and which to ignore -- marketing emails are on the latter group, unfortunately.

Unless the message is something they expected, they wouldn't open it. If an email is from their personal connection, that is when they will take time to read the message, even if it has a dull subject line -- or none at all. As for marketing emails, what makes people click to open these type of messages is an interesting, thought-provoking, credible subject line.

Creating a powerful email subject line is very important as it is the first thing the readers see. Do you know that more than 70% of email owners out there read or disregard an email judging by the subject line alone?

So where will you begin?

Your ideal subject line is something that makes people stop, click and read the entirety of the message whether it is an newsletter, an update for a new product or a promotional message. It will take a bit of a strategy and time though but it’s worth it.

A good subject line is not just powerful but it is also short and sweet. It’s key phrases or key benefit words must be clearly displayed on any device type. Always consider the length of your subject lines. Remember that subject lines as displayed in mobile or tablet devices are shorter compared on desktop computers. Ideally, 50 characters subject lines fit best for all devices.

Use the kind of "voice" that your reader would want to hear. Say, you are targeting group of ages 15-17, then it is likely that this group would like to hear friendly, hype and not too formal subject lines.

A questioning subject line with an end-goal benefit is proven to bring high opening and click-through rates. In this subject line, demonstrate a common question among your audience and that by opening that question they will get the answer. To get a better picture of what your readers would want to know (so you can create better email copies), go through support tickets and social media engagement.

For welcome emails, the "next step" subject line works well. In this subject line, you are telling the reader what to do next and that you are welcoming them aboard. This technique is proven to deliver 70% open rate.

If you are sending an email to a referral, mention the mutual connection. You could say, your friend ____ recommend that we get a hold of you. It's the trust that the mutual connection already have with the reader that make the reader actually open your e-mail.

Now as funny (and ironic) as this may sound, some marketers out there use the "do not open this email" subject line. And . . . it works! There's something about the opposite command that actually attracts readers to do otherwise.

The end part is A/B testing your subject lines. Create variations of subject lines, keep testing and see which among them works best for your campaign. Until satisfied with results, you can continue to craft various subject line formulas until you reach your open rate and click-through rate goals.

About the author

Nice bloke with practical ideas. Former Procter & Gamble, Kraft and IBM sales and marketing executive. Became a business owner 20 years ago. Started multiple businesses including EXELA which is the most successful Keap® & Infusionsoft™ reseller in the EMEA region.

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