A Guide to Catchy Email Subject Lines

3,800%. That’s the average return on investment for email marketing in the US (2020). As shocking as it might be to believe, this means that your company has a tremendous opportunity to turn contacts into customers with email marketing. And where does this tremendous opportunity begin, but in the crafting of a good email subject line? In this blog, we’re going to show you how to write an email that engages your audience. If you can get your audience to open your emails, you’ll be well on your way to turning them into customers. 

Why a lot of Email Campaigns Don’t Work

If you’re like most of us, you have three types of emails that come to your inbox. The first are work or personal, and you open most of these. The next are emails that maybe you signed up for, but are no longer interested in. You unsubscribe from these when you realize that the emails they promised you aren’t the emails your getting. The third type of email in most people’s inboxes are emails they have signed up for that are actually valuable. These companies deliver fresh, free content to your inbox every day, and usually there’s something in the email that you find valuable. How did you find this out? It all started with their email subject line…

Email subject lines are obviously effective because they’re enticing. But what makes an email subject line enticing? We’ll save you some time. In the long run, HONESTY is in every effective email subject line. People allow emails to persist in their inbox because they deliver on what they say. If an email is not on the inside what it says it is on the outside, this raises flags and decreases trust. Subconsciously, it might be alerting your contact NOT to buy from you. After all, you are proving that what you market and what you sell are worlds apart. 

A lot of companies try to write catch email subject lines, but don’t deliver on the content inside. Then, they wonder why email marketing doesn’t work for them and conclude that it doesn’t work. It’s important to remember that the purpose of email marketing is building trust with your audience, not “getting clicks”. Open rate should be the fruit of valuable content, not the false fruit of exaggerated subject lines. Only the former will bring you lasting business. 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at a few examples of what honest, catchy, and customer-centered email subject lines might look like. 

Identifying what Your Customer Wants

A great approach to creating a catchy email subject line is identifying what your customer wants. That is, what your customer wants in relation to your product or service. We’ve found that this particular method works well in the form of a question. Here’s an example: 

Looking for a new way to market your product? 

It implies that the old way isn’t working. It also implies that the business owner you’re emailing actually wants to increase revenue by marketing their product effectively. These two implied points open up a story loop for the reader. Though they might have not have been actively looking for a new way to market their product before reading this email subject line—they are now.

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Empathizing with Your Customer’s Problems

Another way to create effective email subject lines is to ask, “What problem does my audience struggle with as it relates to my product or service?”. Then empathizing with their problem. Here’s an example:

We get it, the struggle is real. 

Imagine an email subject line like this one, with the preview text saying something like, “Here’s something most marketing agencies won’t tell you”. 

And in the email you talk about how even your agency has struggled with increasing revenue through digital marketing. This vulnerability is POWERFUL in creating the empathy and strength that your audience needs to see from you in order to trust and do business with you. Remember, effective marketing isn’t about who lies the most believably. It’s about empathizing with your audience so they feel seen and known by you. Those are the kinds of emails that get opened. Mostly because, in a world of marketing manipulation, emails like these are RARE.

The Takeaway

Email subject lines are “catchy” when they are honest, and when they deliver what they promised on. When you use the email subject line to identify what your customer wants, as well as to empathize with their problem—the result is a higher open rate. Lastly, your audience is looking for someone to help them avoid failure and end in success. When your audience looks at your email subject lines, you want them to get the sense that you can help them transform. In the end, the best email subject line is the one that clicks us toward a better version of ourselves.