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Despite the old saying, people often tend to judge the book by its cover. And the modern equivalent, judging an email by its subject line, is even more true – in fact, majority of consumer decide whether to open an email based solely on its subject line. So how do you compel email recipients to open yours? By crafting a subject lines which makes a good first impression and stands out in a jam-packed inbox.

In order to turn this small, but very crucial, part of your message into a click through, you need to tell what’s inside instead of selling what’s inside. To help get your email content opened and consumed, we’ve put together some tips on writing effective email subject lines:

Keep it concise

What is the use of having a carefully crafted email subject line if half of it is cut off? Especially on mobile, where most email opens happened these days, if the subject line is too long, its ending won’t be visible.

To make sure you are effectively communicating all the important information in your email subject line, go through what you’ve written and consider whether there are any words/details which don’t need to be included. A great example of this is ecommerce order confirmations – ‘Your order is being shipped’ is sufficient – there is no need to include the order number or name of the product in the subject line.

Keep it to the point

Think about the way people usually interact with their inboxes – more often than not, they would scan the subject lines very quickly, so you only have a limited window of time to sell yourself. It’s generally good practice to lead with the benefits – talk about how your product or service would immediately benefit your customers, rather than being generic or vague. Choose a subject line such as ‘Reduce your sugar intake by 30%’ rather than ‘How to reduce your sugar intake’.

Keep up the curiosity

Grabbing the attention of your recipients with an intriguing question is also a fantastic way to draw readers in. Pique the curiosity of your customers by posing questions such as ‘Are you making these […] mistakes’/ ‘# things you could be doing wrong…’ – everyone would be rushing to make sure they are not – or keep it even more vague if you want to be really bold.

Keep it personal

With all the current ways to micro-target your audiences, it’s never been easier to collect personal information about your subscribers (just make sure you’re doing it in a GDPR-compliant manner!). So why not use what you know about your customers to tailor your email subject towards the individual.

Names and location are two of the most obvious examples of personalisation tokens you can use – including these in the subject line creates a feeling of familiarity and is almost guaranteed to increase click through rate. Whether you use the name of someone’s pet or list the top cocktail bar destinations in their area, adding personalised touches shows your subscribers you know more about them than just their email address. Just be weary of not coming across as creepy rather than data-savvy.

Keep it segmented

Make sure you avoid emailing your customers information that’s not relevant to them by segmenting your email lists based on their actions and personal data. Are they vegetarian? In a particular industry? Have they just purchased from you and signed up to a newsletter? Personalise your messaging to each specific list so it hits home.

You could make recipients feel even more special by employing a language of exclusivity. Phrase your subject line in a way which makes your customers feel like they are on the inside (e.g. ‘Exclusive offer for you’, ‘Beloved customers only’) and you’ll see an increase of loyalty and email conversions.

Keep it timely

Great subject lines can be made even more effective by timing. Sending out an email about drinks offers just before the end of the work day on a Friday or reminding a customer their car insurance is running out two weeks prior will do wonders to increase the open rate of an email with an already crafty subject line.

Another aspect of using time in your favour is creating a sense of urgency through language – using vocab such as ‘last chance’, ‘today’ and ‘now’ or similar sentiment creatively will compel recipients to take action. Just make sure to use these in moderation and on occasions when immediate action is genuinely called for.

Keep it out of the spam folder!

There are some good practice rules to follow when you’re writing a subject line to keep your emails from looking like spam before they’ve even been opened. Excessive use of exclamation marks (or any other symbols used in the extreme) are very likely to put people off as they look unprofessional and often spammy without adding any value to the content.

All capitals is also a big turn off for recipients, as it creates the feeling that they are being shouted at rather than instilling the sense of urgency the writers might have intended. In fact, all capitals is one of the triggers for spam filters, along with excessive punctuation, currency signs and spam words such as ‘free’, ‘cheap’ and ‘buy direct’.

A/B test your email subject headlines

Even after you’ve hand-crafted your subject line and ticked all the boxes, you might want to try a few different variations to see which one works best. Since every company has very specific marketing strategy and audience, what works for some won’t necessarily work for others. Particularly with your most important email campaigns, you should always A/B test the subject line to see what works best and tweak accordingly.


If you need assistance getting to know your audiences and crafting email campaigns with high click through and conversion rate, our team of online marketing specialists offers email marketing services as well as training on Mail Chimp and Campaign Monitor. Make the most of your email marketing campaigns – fill in the form below and we’ll put our skills to work!

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