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1. Simple, No Nonsense Email Subject Lines

There’s a lot to be said for minimalism – users need you to be clear and concise in your subject lines, as time is always an asset.

MailChimp conducted an email subject line study and found that short, descriptive subject lines fare better than cheesy lures. Some might bristle up at the accusation that humor and creativity should take a back seat when creating good subject lines for emails, especially since many marketing experts say otherwise. It’s worth noting that this succinct approach is most applicable with notification emails, in which a user already has a connection with the content you’re delivering.

Most of these subject line examples involve updates or notifications connected with a user’s social media activity, order status, etc. These emails have a specific purpose, and so their subject lines should be specific as well.

2. Funny Email Subject Lines

A humorous subject line can really stick out among the dry, dull emails surrounding it. Humor it a touchy thing though – it thrives on exclusivity, which isn’t always great if you’re trying to appeal to the masses. However, if you know your audience well and your emails are targeted, a well placed joke can get your email opened and can earn major reputation points with folks on your wavelength.

3. Controversial/Shocking Email Subject Lines

Controversy (sometimes) sells, and it most certainly grabs attention. Using shock, controversy, or insult in your subject lines requires you to tread really carefully. You may get opens, but at the cost of customers. This strategy requires you to be confident in your understanding of your audience’s tastes and perceptions. It’s a bit of a gamble, but the pay-off can be pretty great.

4. Single-Word Subject Lines

One effective email subject line strategy involves going ultra-minimalist with one-word subject lines.

5. Email Subject Lines with Numbers & Lists

Many of the factors that make up a good blog post title also make a good email subject line. Incorporating numbers into your subject line attracts attention, as our brains are naturally drawn to digits. This tends to be why top 10 lists are so successful – lists are easier for our brains to process and they create curiosity, in addition to providing the promise of a quick and easy read.

Numbers and list email subject lines stand out for the same reasons that one-word subject lines or unusual punctuation do – they are visually jarring.

Basically, the ultimate goal is to make your email subject line visually stand out. How you do that is up to you!

6. Personalized Subject Lines

Incorporating personalization techniques into email subject lines is another way to increase open rates. By personalization I don’t mean incorporating a user’s name into the subject line – this has become so common practice that many users glaze over these as spam. Instead, try location-specific offers and language, or interest targeting. Living Social and Groupon are old pros at this, sending emails with subject lines promoting deals in your area.

7. Questions & Other Punctuation in Email Subject Lines

Question marks and unusual punctuation offer another method for standing out from the email masses. Exclamation marks can be useful, but are so over-used in subject lines that they don’t tend to be very powerful. Instead, experiment with some fun symbols or loud punctuation to attract ‘dem eyeballs.

Asking your readers a question, as opposed to a standard statement, immediately engages them. Questions enter an instant dialogue with users, making them more likely to be opened.

8. “Missing Out” & Other Scarcity Tactics in Subject Lines

We have a deep, inherent terror of being left behind, of missing out – that flock mentality was a survival instinct once, but now it’s just another subject line strategy to goad us into a purchase. Email subject lines threatening scarcity (limited time offer!) tend to perform well, and this language is also common practice with squeeze pages. People will commit some pretty cold actions to avoid “missing out.”

9. Mysterious Email Subject Lines

Email Subject Line Best Practices

Some general good email subject line best practices to keep in mind when crafting those lures.

Write multiple subject lines. You should write 10 subject lines for every email, just as you should write 10 titles for every blog post. Then choose the best Keep it under 50 characters. It’s general best practice to keeps subject lines to fewer than 50 characters. Subject lines with less than 50 characters have higher open rates and click-through-rates than those with 50+.

Know your audience. Your best bet for creating good email subject lines will be understanding your audience intimately and catering to them. This is a major rule for pretty much all aspects of online marketing, and while it can be a bit tougher in a limited character field like a subject line, matching your audience’s interests and mannerisms is essential if you really want solid open rates.What’s your tone? Most good email subject lines rely on a conversationalist tone to attract readers.Call to action. It’s never a bad idea to try a call to action in your email subject line. While many opt-out due to limited character space, call to actions may improve open rates.

Using You/Your. While name-calling is on the out, it’s still considered a best practice to use “you” and “your” wording to speak directly and comfortably with readers.Put Yourself in the “From” field. Keep your “from” section professional and consistent for business subject lines. This isn’t this place to be a goof ball – with so much spam floods, users want to see that you are a legitimate and trusted source. Most business emails put their brand name in the “from” field, or go with something along the lines of “John Smith from InvitaCorp”.Always A/B test subject lines. I must sound like a broken record – I know, I know, A/B testing blaa  blaa, so important, blaa blaa. Well it is! You should A/B test everything you can get your keyboardy fingers on, email subject lines included.Pay attention to the preview. The email preview that follows the subject line is a valuable piece of property, and yet so many businesses ignore it or let it get filled with garbage text.

Many emails have text like this or something similar because they want the option to view in web browser for those reading on mobile devices. Instead, move the “view in browser” links and other mumbo-jumbo to the bottom of the email so you can make the most of the preview field.

Why Do My Open Rates Suck?

Having trouble with your email open rates? Working on your subject lines will help, but there may be other factors at play, such as:

Is the email viewable? If your email doesn’t read well on a user’s device, they won’t bother trying to decipher it.
Are you being a pest? If you’ve been emailing folks every day, they may be fed up with you and won’t be as likely to open your emails if you’ve been making yourself an annoyance.When did you send it? Many people don’t check their emails as often on the weekend. Quality of your email list. Is this a solid, targeted email list? If your list isn’t high-quality, it may reflect in your open rates.

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