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A Formula for Email Subject Lines that your Target Audience will Open

To open or not to open… 

It’s been said many times that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. When it comes to your marketing email, no one seems to have a problem with making a quick decision.

Your email subject line serves as a first—and sometimes the last impression. Since email inboxes are inundated with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of emails per day, clever email subject lines are more important than ever. This one line of text can often determine whether an email is opened or sent straight to trash, where an email can die but once.

Good email subject lines can make a powerful impact on your readers. The words you choose for your email subject lines can have a big impact on whether or not the hard work you’ve put into your email will pay off. No matter how amazing or well-crafted your email campaigns are, they are worthless if your target audience doesn’t open the email.

This is why 47% of marketers claim that they test one subject line against another in order to optimize and improve the performance of their email campaign.

In fact, the email subject line happens to be the most commonly tested email element. Check out our blog on What Jerry Seinfeld Taught Us About Making Great Marketing Collateral, to learn more about the importance of email testing. 

Spending a little extra time on your email subject lines will help you boost email open rates, avoid the spam folder, and get your message in front of the right people. 

Here are 5 tips for award winning email subject lines that Shakespeare himself would have to open:

  1. Keep it simple and cut to the chase – Given that most smartphones only display five or six words of a subject line – and because more than 41% of today’s email campaigns are opened on mobile devices – brevity is the soul of wit.
  2. Use a little humor – A catchy subject line can stand out among the millions of ho-hum ones drowning your inbox. Humor is tough, though, and you have to take care not to confuse or insult. But if you know your audience well, a clever joke can get your email opened and shared.
  3. Use numbers and 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.
  4. Find a way to make it local – Specific location language and offers show readers that you’ve done your homework. You know their vicinity and have a message that applies specifically to them. Many readers open these emails whether or not they’re initially interested, just to see what’s happening in their areas. People are usually happiest a home.
  5. Ask open-ended questions -Asking readers a question in your subject line can immediately engage them and create an instant dialogue. Try to keep your questions open-ended so your reader can’t answer them with a quick “no.” Simple, yet thought-provoking.  What’s in a name?

When you are writing your subject lines and emails, focus on quality and the value you’re providing recipients. For more tips take a look at our Nurturing Emails that Engage blog. Have questions? We can help, call us at 828.209.8066

Blake Crawford

Blake is the Creative Director here at Greenstone Media. He helps companies tell the story their customers need to hear. When he isn't working, Blake enjoys hiking, playing guitar, and writing songs.