First impressions are everything, so why wouldn’t your email subject line be a priority in your email marketing strategy? It’s the first impression a recipient and your potential customer has of your email.
Email subject lines dictate whether someone will click on your email or ignore it completely. In many cases, an email campaign’s success or failure hinges primarily on the quality of its subject line.
At the start of the 21st century, the attention span of an average person was approximately 12 seconds. Fast forward to 2015, the number shrank to 8. One can only guess what it has been reduced to in 2022.
To capture the fleeting attention span of your email recipients, aim to craft a subject line that not only stands out from your competitors but invites your customers to take action. If you’re needing a hand to increase your email open rates, then you’re in luck. In this article, we’ll discuss tips and tricks to use in creating the best email subject lines.
1. Keep subject lines short and sweet
Do a quick search on “email subject lines” and you’ll find the topic of subject line length popping up a lot. Why? Because, unlike the other elements that make up a subject line, its length is the easiest one to measure.
Subject lines are designed to grab your reader’s attention quickly.
"🔥 The easiest TV hack ever! - Millicent, Struggling to get on TV? Then this is for you! 🔥 "
Not only do you want a punchy one liner, but you’ll also find that mobile displays up to 30 characters of an email subject line, the rest will be cut off, leading to disappointing open and engagement rates.
Start prioritizing your compelling subject lines. Keep them interesting, precise, clear, and most importantly short. Make every word count and if people don’t respond to your first email, don’t give up. Send a follow-up email with a new subject line to give your email a second chance.
2. Personalize the subject lines
It’s out with the sales jargon and in with personalization. With a wealth of data under our belt, customers expect us to know exactly what they want — and they don't want to see another yawn-inducing generic email subject line.
Adding personalization to email subject lines can improve open rates by 22% alone, 62% of sent emails are opened because they’re personalized.
Here are some ways you can personalize your email subject lines:
Call them by their name: Using your readers’ first names in your email subject lines makes them feel valued. Out of the dozen or so emails landing in your inbox daily, the ones that are likely to catch your eye are the ones mentioning your name.
"Kinarah, congrats on your first reading session - Set a goal and track your reading with Reading Insi.."
Birthdays and anniversaries: If a subject line makes reference to a customer’s birthday, the open and click-through rates are often strong, in fact, they’re 60% better. If you don’t know your customers’ birthdays you can get this information by sending out a quick survey, offering incentives such as discounts on products during their birthday months.
"Happy birthday! (present inside) - You are opening a new chapter in your life today..."
Find out their interests: Sending an email with a subject line that talks about dog grooming tools to a cat owner is an email marketing sin. Sending irrelevant information is a quick way to get your customers off-side. Instead, use the knowledge you’ve acquired of them to tailor your email subject lines to their interests.
Now, you understand the importance of personalization, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the time to go and manually personalize email subject lines for each customer.
Millions of marketers before you have composed subject lines with corresponding open rates, generating trillions of data points. With Ortto's AI labs AI subject line writer, anyone can tap into this wealth of information to not predict the open rate of their subject line. The AI will also write recommendations on higher-performing alternatives.
The AI subject line writer was trained by Ortto engineers on billions of email subject lines and their open rates. This purposely-trained neural network takes this data and makes an accurate prediction of your open rate. Plus, it will recommend some higher-performing alternatives for you to consider.
Not only will you benefit from a higher open rate on your email, but over time you'll start to learn what makes people click and the subject lines you enter into the AI will improve, along with the recommended alternatives.
While email marketing excels at driving sales for retailers and e-commerce businesses, there are some dangers of being too promotional with your email subject lines.
Your customers have been blasted with free shipping offers, limited-time discount offers, and seasonal promotions for so long now. Therefore, beating the “buy, buy, buy now!” drum too hard will result in more subscribers ignoring your emails — and maybe even hitting the dreaded “unsubscribe” button.
To avoid seeing your open rates go down (and your unsubscribe rates go up), we suggest implementing the following soft-sell tactics:
Educating your leads: Your audience doesn’t always know they need your product until they’re educated about the product or the circumstances that drive its need.
"How to prepare for an online interview -Hello Millicent Kaimuru, Infographic - How to prepare..."
Consider sending emails consisting of how-to guides, video tutorials, and informative content pieces to pave the path to converting them from leads to customers.
Provide news and updates: Informing readers of news and updates relevant to your business or industry keeps them engaged with you.
"Product Update: @mention everywhere, import tasks...From the team that brought you..."
Cause marketing: We know that cause marketing helps non-profit organizations but did you know it also helps brands differentiate and drive business? Letting your subscribers know what causes your business support is your way of showing that you don’t only care about selling things.
Upwork is an example of a brand that has done this. Showing their support of Ukraine within their subject line.
"Upwork Suspending Operations in Russia & Belarus - A message from our CEO"
5. Experiment with emojis on your subject lines
The rise of the emoji is here. If you’ve glanced at your inbox lately, you’ve already noticed the array of emojis showing ever more frequently, particularly in good email subject lines.
In fact, one report suggests that emoji usage in email subject lines has risen 775% year after year!
Emojis are useful for many reasons.
They save space. So, if you want your entire subject line to fit on a mobile device and you only have 30-40 characters to play around with, adding an emoji can be the key to getting your message across without using many words.
They convey emotions. Given that many brands today are constantly struggling to form an emotional connection with customers, emojis may assist in bridging that gap.
They increase email open rates. A report by Experian found that 56% of brands using emojis in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate than text-only subject lines.
Of course, emojis aren’t appropriate for every brand, but if it fits with your brand tone and your target audience comprises of millennial or Gen Z users, consider using a quirky emoji or two.
6. Subject lines with urgency
A psychological principle that’s practically impossible to resist is the fear of missing out (FOMO). You can use this in your subject lines by adding an element of scarcity (i.e. limited availability) or urgency (i.e. time-sensitivity). This creates a sense of urgency and your readers are more likely to make decisions quickly.
One thing to note, creating urgency involves paying attention to the phrasing and timing of your message. Although you want your recipients to act, you don’t want to seem desperate.
Good email subject lines give recipients a bit of time to take advantage of promotions and they deliver higher engagement rates. Words such as “urgent” and “alert” boost email open rates.
Another great example is the Qantas Travel Money email, below. The subject line creates a sense of urgency by using the words “don’t miss out.” And while no deadlines were specified, the tone of the subject line still conveys that this offer will not be available for a long time. So while this was technically a “please purchase from our website” email, it didn’t feel desperate.
"Don't miss out on your Qantas Hotel voucher - With the Qantas Travel Money card..."
While using superlatives can result in more of your customers clicking, it’s important to be wary when using them. Why? Because these days, everyone out there is touting the best thing you’ll ever eat, wear and do. But used well and with the right audience, these words can pack a punch.
Take Broadsheet, for example. As one of Australia’s most respected online city guides for news related to food and drinks, fashion, shopping, and entertainment, Broadsheet frequently uses superlatives in its email subject lines.
Consider which superlative phrases are likely to add value to you and use them to create good email subject lines.
8. Use numbers on your subject lines
Numbers have a way of enticing and encouraging customers to read the email. The finite written number indicates it is not a lengthy email plus it’s getting right to the point!
Last year, the Yesware blog studied nearly 1.2 million emails for subject line research. According to the study, subject lines with numbers had a 45 percent greater open rate than the rest.
9. Subject lines with a surprise
Who doesn’t like a good surprise? Using it in your emails makes your readers curious to know what’s in the email. They’ll automatically open it and read through to find the surprise.
Mindvalley does this well in one of their emails.
This email tickles the recipient's interest, needing to know exactly what the surprise would be. Upon opening, this is what they had in store.
A $100 discount is indeed a great surprise. It’s important to match your words and actions. It’s not best practice to say use ‘surprise’ messaging, only for your recipient to click on an uninspiring email. Build trust within your readers, by complementing the ‘surprise’ language with a reasonable coupon or promotion.
The final word
A lot of effort goes into creating email content, from the design of the email right down to crafting the perfect call-to-action prompt. However, all this effort will go down the drain if your email remains unopened in your customer’s inbox thanks to a non-optimized subject line.
Instead of crafting hundreds of email subject lines every day, sit back and let Ortto’s AI do this for you. Our efficiency will save you time and enable you to focus on perfecting your products for your customers.
We hope that this article has provided you with inspiration for your next email.