Email Marketing – Effective Subject lines
1. Build your subscriber list
Even if you’ve already got a long list of emails for clients and prospects, you should never stop adding to it. Especially since it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. For example, make sure your list is always growing passively with a signup feature on your website. Subscription forms should be on your home page, blog page and everywhere else you can fit it without taking away from more important content.
Digital Fire does a great job of collecting email subscribers on their home page, which includes a sign-up box that hovers over the page and follows users as they scroll. It’s impossible to miss (without being annoying) and plainly explains the value of subscribing to their email list.
You can also build your list through more traditional means. If you have a booth at an industry conference, provide an option for people to sign up for your newsletter. Even if you don’t end up closing at sale directly at the conference, getting someone to sign up for your email list can turn into a business opportunity down the road.
2. Encourage readers to reply
Unlike direct mail, email marketing opens the door for meaningful conversations with real people interested in your business. Just throwing information to leads and clients is a waste of time, so make sure you always focus on these three variables:
- Irresistible subject lines – Speak to readers directly and promise them something that stands out from the other emails in their inbox. The best way to go about this is with automated solutions that personalize your emails (which we’ve written about in depth).
- An entertaining and distinctive voice – Just because readers open your email doesn’t mean they aren’t queued up to quickly delete it. Always make sure your message sounds like it came from a real person who cares, not some faceless marketing machine.
- Targeted content – Segmenting your email lists by reader demographics makes it easier to create a message that really resonates with your readers’ needs and interests, which makes them more likely to take up an offer, engage with you, or even to pass it onto other prospective clients.
The focus of these points is to encourage recipients to respond. Sometimes that means they click on a link in your message, but whenever possible, encourage them to actually respond to your emails. That’s a surefire way to show you’re interested and responsive to what your subscribers have to say.
3. Make it personal
Whenever possible, add a personal element to your emails. Most email tools allow you to enter shortcodes that will be replaced with the recipient’s name when the email is sent out. Emails from Treehouse Co-Founder Ryan are always fun and personal. The subject lines are creative, messages are sent “from” Ryan’s email address, and the content is personalized. If you reply to the mail, you’ll even get a prompt response from Ryan himself!
On top of this, you can segment your messages to particular portions of your audience. If you have a business that works with multiple industries, consider sending out different versions of your email with each one providing information specific to each industry.
4. Keep your emails out of spam folders
If your carefully constructed emails are flagged as spam, they’ll never see the light of day. Start off by making sure your recipients have opted into your emails so you aren’t running afoul of any regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act.
Beyond that, avoid using all caps, too many exclamation marks, and hyperbolic phrases (“ACT NOW BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT!!!!”). Poorly formatted HTML in your emails can also hurt how they’re handled. Every spam filter is different, so an email might pass through one filter but get flagged by another. For more comprehensive info on how spam filters work and how to avoid them, check out this guide by MailChimp.
5. Make sure your emails look clean and crisp
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people send emails that look like amateur websites from the ’90s. If someone has opened your mail because of an engaging heading, you want to keep their interest. This means:
- Using short paragraphs and ensuring that keywords and phrases relevant to your readers stand out.
- Including bullet points to help people skim the content and take in the vital points.
- Inserting pictures sparingly. Images should illustrate your message rather than replace your content. Some email providers block images or consider them an indicator of spam.
Here’s an example of what an email newsletter template might look like.
6. Include interesting links and calls to action
The aim of most email marketing campaigns is to increase traffic to a site, sometimes a specific landing page. No clicks means no customers — it really is that simple. Always try to include visually striking buttons with text that give readers more than one opportunity to interact (e.g., Find out more! Download Now! etc.).
Check out this example from one of Airbnb’s event promotion email:
In general, calls to action should be written as just that — actions. The more exciting the action you describe, the more enticing it will be to your audience.
7. Make it easy to unsubscribe
It may seem as though you are cutting off the “conversation” by giving clients the chance to opt out, but if a user wants to remove their name from your lists and can’t do so easily, they’ll flag emails as spam, which will cause you problems in the future.
8. Make emails mobile-friendly
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Many people reach for their phone. In fact, 66% of email opens occur on smartphones or tablets. If your emails aren’t optimized for viewing on these devices, you’re potentially missing out on a huge number of clicks.
9. Test, test, test
Never send anything without making sure it’s working properly. Double-check that your messages look the way you want them to be by sending them to employee accounts. Ideally, you will view them on Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo, and on a variety of mobile devices before finalizing your drafts.
For more robust testing, check out Litmus, a tool that tests and provides screenshots of your email in dozens of different email tools.
Ensure that all your links work, and any personalization shortcodes aren’t failing. Sending mass emails without double-checking the content would be like turning up to a business meeting having chosen your outfit in the dark. If it goes wrong, you’ll look foolish and unprofessional.
10. More testing!
Beyond testing content on different platforms, you should also experiment with different subject lines, calls to action, and body text to see what is most engaging to your audience.
Some email tools have built-in A/B testing modules that allow you to compare the results of different versions of your emails, but even if you don’t have access to these, you can run tests on your own. Try sending your emails on different days of the week or different times of the day to see when you get the best response rate.
11. Track your data
Some results may have nothing to do with platforms and content. Keep a close eye on your data, like how many email addresses were undeliverable or what time of the day people opened your message. These tiny details will tell you a lot about your email’s performance.
If you’re using Google Analytics on your website, tagging your emails with custom campaign tracking can show you how they are driving traffic to your landing pages and how those visitors behave once they arrive on your site. Equipped with this powerful information, you can now really tailor your marketing message to people who will use it.
12. Don’t overwhelm your subscribers
Armed with all these tips, you might be eager to start sending out as many emails as you can. But beware of how often you send messages to your list. You don’t want to flood their inbox with marketing messages about everything you offer — they might get annoyed and unsubscribe.
13. Above all else, provide value
Great email marketing ultimately comes down to giving your audience something that sticks with them – something that keeps your business on their mind, whether that’s educational information about your industry, operational messages about your service, or marketing messages about the products you offer.
Otherwise, that message is just going to end up in the trash.
Since your subject is about “Effective Subject lines” I might as well add this:
This is one of the best email marketing subject lines because of its powerful pairing with an important sender name – Barack Obama. How would you react to getting an email like this in your inbox? Regardless of your political leanings, you would be intrigued to see why someone as important as Barack Obama would be addressing you with a familiar “hey.” This is the reason why such email subject lines can get a high open rate.
2. “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”
Adding some humor to your email marketing subject lines is the perfect way of getting a higher open rate. In this example, the quip turned a typical-looking email subject line into an interesting and funny one that’s much more appealing to recipients. Such ideas can help you drive your email marketing campaign towards success.
3. “Thanks for Joining – Here’s What’s on Sale”
A study conducted by Adestra analyzed 95,000 email subject lines from across the globe. Researchers found that there are over 200 top trigger words to increase your open rate.
Did you know that, the use of “Sale” resulted in an open rate of 23.2%, whereas “Save” delivered only 3.4% opens.
Thus, using email subject lines with the word “Sale” can be extremely helpful to improve your open rates. This can help you get the best out of your email marketing campaign as well.
But you should avoid words such as “Save” because they can reduce the open rate of your emails.
4. “Top 10 under $10”
Email marketing subject lines with numbers or lists are intriguing and attention-grabbing.
Did you know that the human brain is naturally drawn to numbered lists. Implementing this to your email marketing campaign could effectively persuade more recipients to open your emails.
You can try to craft email subject lines like the one in the example to increase your conversion rates. It’s a great idea to do A/B testing of these email subject lines yourself too.
Through A/B testing, you’ll be able to find the best ones which work better for your email marketing campaign.
5. “Uh-oh, Your Prescription is Expiring”
Warby Parker, for example, gets its timing right by sending out prescription renewal emails two weeks before the actual expiration date. The tone in these email marketing subject lines is also conversational with the usage of “Uh-oh.” The rest of the email looks like this:
So, why does this work?
Because these email subject lines is that they can trigger a certain urgency in the reader’s mind.
This is called the fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). By reading the email subject lines, they’ll be instantly prompted to open the email and purchase the product. This helps increase the email open rates and also makes the email marketing campaign successful.
6. “212 Blog Post Ideas”
Short, simple, and straight to the point; this perfect email subject line conveys the email’s content in just four words. Select email marketing subject lines that offer the desired product or blog post without being too “salesy.”
When the email subject lines are straightforward, they may seem more genuine to your subscribers. This can push them to open your email to check it out. That’s why the method in this example can help in giving a great boost to your email marketing campaigns.
7. “How (Company) Got Your Name”
Regardless of your product, email marketing subject lines like this can attract your readers and compel them to open. It sparks the recipients’ innate interest in learning more about your company, thus enabling you to establish a connection with them. The best part about it is that you don’t need to think too much while creating it too.
If the email subject lines make the subscribers feel that they’ll learn something new, they may open your email.
The key here is to make the email seem genuinely interesting for them too. This helps hold their attention and they may keep opening your emails with such email subject lines in future email marketing campaigns too.
8. “7 Most Annoying Twitter Moments of the #Oscars2014”
Such email subject lines incorporate the usage of numbers to increase their open rates. At the same time, they talk about something interesting that may catch the fancy of the subscribers. This helps drive the success of your email marketing campaigns.
9. “10 Jaw-Dropping Drift Videos on YouTube”
YouTube’s subject line is exciting and eye-catching in your inbox. These email subject lines are great examples of perfect subject lines. It speaks to the user who’s most likely interested in viewing the top videos of this genre. Since the email contains a link to the videos, it compels readers to open it.
The best part about these emails from YouTube is that the content is always tailored to the preferences of the subscriber. This relevance improves the chances of them opening the email.
Additionally, email subject lines like the one in the example clearly list down the number of videos in the email. This further helps you catch their attention.
10. “Introducing our Latest (Product/Feature/Service)”
Top email marketing subject lines like this create a curiosity in the recipients. They’ll click open to see what’s the latest product or feature they could buy? It’s also direct because you’re already telling them what the email is all about.
When does this work? Such email subject lines can work extremely well with loyal fans of your business as they will constantly be on the lookout for the latest offerings from your business.
11. “You’re Missing out on Points”
Nobody wants to miss out on great benefits. JetBlue takes advantage of this in the best way in its email marketing subject lines. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is strong in today’s society. This email compels readers to find out more about what they’re unaware of.
When the email subject lines tell your subscribers that they’re about to lose out on something, they’ll instantly catch their attention. It is due to this FOMO that the open rates of the email marketing campaign increases.
12. “Your Order #…”
In the previously mentioned MailChimp study, it was found that short, descriptive emails have the top open rates. So when you’re communicating with a user who’s already connected with the content you’re delivering, it’s best to be specific.
Take a look at how Shutterfly sends emails about existing orders using the order number in its email subject lines:
Remember, your customers are always on the lookout for new information about their purchases. When your email subject lines mention the order number, it becomes clear to them that the email contains information important to them.
13. “The (Company) Holiday Catalog is Here”
This is one of the simplest and most direct email subject lines. And it helps create curiosity in the recipient. Readers would be curious as to what top products your company has to offer for this season. Incorporating such emails into your campaign can help you grow your sales.
14. “Buffer has been Hacked – Here is What’s Going on”
When Buffer got hacked awhile go, they sent out reassurance emails with this attention-grabbing subject line. It’s direct, concise, and serious so that recipients know Buffer is calmly resolving the issue.
Such email subject lines pique the curiosity of the subscribers because they will instantly want to know the status of their account. This is a great way to improve your email open rate and brand reputation at the same time because your business is being transparent about things.
15. “Rough Day?”
So simple yet so intriguing, Sephora sent out personalized emails with questions like this one in the email subject lines. The email shows that the company cares about how the reader’s day went, driving a higher open rate.
So, what’s the secret? Such email subject lines appeal to the emotions of subscribers. Those subscribers who’ve genuinely had a bad day might find the email relevant and open it. This can help in improving the open rates of your email marketing campaign.
16. “Don’t Make These Seven AdWords Mistakes”
This email marketing example compels readers to click open because it might benefit them. At the same time, email subject lines like this one create curiosity as to what they could be currently doing wrong with AdWords.
Such email subject lines can particularly appeal to digital marketers who work with AdWords regularly. This is because they’re constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their click-through rates.
If they’re committing any mistakes, they could be harming their CTR. This is why they’d be very interested in knowing these mistakes.
17. “DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities”
No one likes to make mistakes or fail. Thrillist plays on this natural human tendency in its email marketing subject lines. They have capitalized “DO NOT” for stronger effect, therefore making it the perfect line for increasing your campaign’s open rate.
18. “My Gift to You…”
Who doesn’t like getting gifts? When you’re sending out an email with offers and deals, this subject line is the perfect way to attract readers. Recipients are more likely to open the email like unwrapping a present.
You must ensure that your email subject lines make it clear that there’s something special in the email for your subscribers.
Additionally, make sure that you do provide something worthwhile in your emails as the subscribers might not open your future emails if there’s no real gift inside.
For most of us, our inboxes are filled with unopened emails. Long email subject lines are often too distracting for readers. Short, one-word email subject lines can be a great way to stand out. In the image below, Amazon’s “M3” subject line catches the eye far more than the rest:
20. “Pay $1.99 for a New Bundle of 6 STEAM Games (48 HOURS ONLY!)”
Bundle Stars sent out an email with this subject line. It pretty much says everything about what the email contains. It clearly shows the available offer and creates urgency with the time limit. All the reader has to do is open the email for an offer link.
Such email subject lines can instantly trigger FOMO. This is because the subject line mentions an amazing offer and also its validity.
The “48 hours only” gives the subscribers a deadline for the offer and they’d instantly want to make the most of it. This helps increase the open rate of such email marketing campaigns.
21. “Latest (Company) News”
The addition of “News” to an email subject line can result in an open rate of about 47.7% according to the Adestra study mentioned earlier. Loyal customers want to learn about the latest buzz in your company.
22. “Where to Drink Beer Right Now”
Imagine getting this email right when you’re finishing up your workday and ready to relax with some friends. You’d naturally want to open the email.
Such email subject lines can instantly grab the attention of those subscribers who want to go out for a drink. They’ll instantly expect something informative in the email and this can increase your email open rates.
23. “10 Gift Ideas for Your Little Ones”
Picking the right gift can be a hassle, so sending out gift suggestions is smart. These email marketing subject lines can successfully get readers to open your messages.
Who is it for, you ask? This type of subject lines appeal especially to those who’re already looking for gifts for their close ones. If targeted to the right people, these email subject lines can increase the open rates of your marketing campaign drastically.
24. “Make Room in That Closet”
This is an excellent example of a simple, yet exciting email subject line. What if you got an email with this subject line from a clothing retailer introducing a new line of products? You’d be curious to find out what’s new in store.
25. “Get in Our Pants”
Creative and funny, this email subject line is another example of adding humor to your marketing. It’s a great way to get readers to open the email and find out what you’re offering.
26. “Free (Product1) with Purchase of (Product2)”
Directly expressing your outstanding offer in the subject line has the power to grab the reader’s attention. Anyone looking to buy the product will want to open the email and see what’s free.
Email subject lines that talk about offers can instantly catch the attention of subscribers. Those who’re interested in purchasing your products will definitely open the email to understand the offer after seeing such a subject line.
27. “THIS Disappears at Midnight”
Email marketing subject lines like this one stir the interest of readers with a time limit. Recipients will be curious about what will be disappearing at midnight if they don’t open. It’s yet another email marketing campaign that leverages FOMO.
28. “(Company) Bulletin for December”
Simple and concise, this is another great way to increase your open rates. The Adestra study revealed that email subject lines with the word “bulletin” had a 15.8% increase in opens.
29. “Happy Birthday, (recipient’s name) Surprise Inside”
Delight your subscribers with a special offer for their birthday.
Rent the Runway, for example, sends out personalized emails to recipients on their birthdays and addresses them by their first name. They also offer an incentive or surprise for opening the email, which is an excellent way to get readers intrigued. This helps improve the results of their campaign.
30. “Tonight Only: Get this NOW before it’s gone…”
It is very difficult to resist the fear of missing out. You can increase the open rate of your emails if you add an element of limited availability in your subject line. They are best used when you have a sale going on.
You can also use “Weekend Only: Get this …” or “Last Day to Get…” for promoting special product offers or freebies.
Violet Grey, for example, used this email subject line in their campaign.
31. “Is this the hottest career in marketing?”
We, humans, tend to desire closure. You can leverage this trait by leaving your email subject lines open-ended. Try to make your subscribers curious by asking them a question or saying something that sounds unusual.
But make sure that you provide them with an answer when they open your email.
32. “How to …”
Though simple, the “How to …” email marketing subject lines are the best. The reason that makes them so effective is that these email subject lines offer your subscribers a guarantee that they’re going to learn something. They can work wonders for your business and email marketing campaigns.
33. “New Video: (Topic)”
The goal of your email campaign should not only be to increase brand awareness or revenue, you should also want to provide value to your audience. You should create useful content and notify readers about it with the best email subject lines.
For example, if you have a video, guide, report, or tutorial to offer to your subscribers, mention that in your subject line. A few possible email subject lines include “Video! (Topic)” or “(Topic) – Get a [Free Report] Inside.”
34. “[Name], this can help you grow your business”
Today’s consumers receive too many salesy pitches. This makes it difficult for businesses and marketers to cut through the noise and reach their audiences.
The best way to grab your audience’s attention is through relevance and personalization. Emails with personalized email subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.
You can do this by including the recipient’s name in the email subject line and offering them something useful.
35. “Boom shakalak! Let’s get started”
Email subject line ideas that are funny, like the one in this example, also compel readers to open your emails. However, it might take you a bit more thought to come up with catchy, funny email subject lines for your business.
Tictail is an amazing app that simplifies the process of starting an online store. They effectively use humor to boost the open rate of their emails.
36. “40% Off on Your Favorite…”
Offers seldom fail to grab attention, especially when they are personalized. You can boost not just the open rate of your email, but also your revenue with such top offers in your email subject lines.
Promote a discount offer on their favorite products or the product they last viewed. For this, you will need to monitor and analyze your customers’ buying behaviors. The best subject lines like the one in the example can help improve your open rate.