Billions of emails are sent every day, and only 42% of them are actually important, according to email management service SaneBox. For marketers who want their messages to stand out among the masses, creating an intriguing subject line can help determine whether an email makes the cut.
“We all know what it’s like to be bombarded with email messages, all competing for our attention during a busy day,” says Dmitri Leonov, a VP at SaneBox. “If it’s your job to come up with a compelling subject line, it’s a good idea to leverage your experience as an email recipient to help you craft the perfect subject line.”
What gets your attention? How do you decide which emails to trash unopened and which to read? Email marketing experts offer the following nine tips for crafting the perfect email subject line to market your company.
The shorter the subject line, the better. The biggest mistake most companies make is writing subject lines that are far too long and aren’t optimised for mobile, says Kipp Bodnar, a VP at marketing software platform HubSpot. A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while a mobile phone shows just 25 to 30 characters. He recommends getting right to the point in about six to eight words.
Place the most important words at the beginning. A whopping 50% of emails are now read on mobile phones, says Leonov. That’s why it’s critical to keep important words at the beginning of the subject line, and Bodnar advises using a descriptor of the email’s contents, such as “Infographic” or “Free Webinar,” as the first words.
Highlight the value you have to offer. “You need a subject line that indicates value and communicates what they’re going to get,” says Bodnar. Your goal is to pique the reader’s interest, and the best way to do that is by offering them something that’s helpful to them. Whether you’re providing a speaking opportunity, a discount, or free services, make it clear in the subject line what’s in it for them.
Keep it simple and focused. A great marketing email is about one action, which should be communicated in the subject line, says Bodnar. The last thing you want to do is confuse the reader. Offer one takeaway, indicate how the reader can make use of it, and specify how you will deliver it.
Include a call to action. This is a direction to your audience on what they should do next. That might mean clicking a link or replying to the email. But don’t be selfish with a call to action, says Bodnar. You want to indicate the next step, but you should be wary of asking for too much, like forwarding the email to all of their contacts, for example.
Create urgency by limiting the timeframe. To grab someone’s attention and persuade them to reply, consider creating a deadline for your proposition. Common ways of creating urgency include “respond now,” “register today,” and “limited space available — reply soon.”
Don’t include your company’s name in the subject line. “Drive value around what you do but without putting your business front and center,” says Bodnar. It should be about them, not you.
Personalise it with the recipient’s name or company name. You have to know who you’re sending the email to, and they have to recognise that it’s about them or a subject interesting to them, Bodnar says. Using their name or company name is one of the best ways to do that, he says, and makes the recipient much more likely to open the email. For example, you might write, “Increase Company.com’s traffic by 25%,” or “John, see how you compare to competitors.”
Don’t capitalise words. Using all caps may get someone’s attention, but in the wrong way. It’s the digital equivalent of yelling, and your job is to make the email as easy as possible for the recipient to read rather than giving them anxiety, says Leonov. Instead, use dashes or colons to separate thoughts, and avoid caps and special characters like exclamation points.