7 Dos and Don’ts for Killer Email Subject Lines

4 minute read

Upland Admin

We all know that first impressions are important. That first interaction sets the tone for the relationship and shapes all subsequent interactions. This is especially true when it comes to captivating audiences via email.

The subject line is the first thing we see upon viewing our inbox, so it is imperative to capture your reader’s attention right away and get them to open your email. After all, if your reader doesn’t click “open,” how will they know about all the amazing things you have to offer? So, now we ask the question: are your campaigns in need of a makeover? Here are some tips on writing effective subjects that are sure to increase your audience engagement!

DO: Get personal! Personalize your emails by customizing content to readers’ lifestyles and using subject phrases that appeal to your audience. According to Return Path, personalized emails have a 26% higher open rate and 41% higher CTR than non-personalized emails. Geotargeting is also super helpful. People feel right at home with just the mention of their hometown, and useful email content tailored to their location is sure to encourage more opens.

DON’T: Limit yourself to first names when you personalize! While first name personalization was once a novelty that compelled people to click, many people are desensitized to it. Overdoing it with the first names is even worse: not only does it feel spam-like, but it can make open-rates decline. Instead, flirt a little. Show them just how much you care about their interests. For example, hook your audience with the name of their favorite baseball team or dream vacation destination.

DO: Have a call to action! Words such as “register,” “open,” and “add” increase average read rate by 12%-25%. Making people feel like they have to complete an action will make them more likely to open your messaging. Another idea to keep in mind: urgent phrases that stimulate the fear of missing out encourage people to engage with your emails immediately, decreasing the chance that they’ll put it off until later and potentially forget about it. There’s still time to buy a lifetime supply of cupcakes?! Count me in.

DON’T: Use click-bait! There was a time when expressions such as “You’ll never believe…” and “Shocking fact…” worked. Not anymore. In fact, according to our partners at Return Path, click-bait headlines are clicked less than average open rates. Again, this is something that most audiences are desensitized to at best, or completely averse to at worst.

DO: Give your audience direction! Phrases such as “Ways to…” and “Steps to…” motivate your audience to go places. If your subject indicates that you’re providing a solution for a problem they have, they’re probably going to open it.

DON’T: Give up! Subject line trends will change. What works today may not work tomorrow. Stay creative and mix things up. And while you’re throwing those ideas into the email mix, always make sure to A/B test and keep an eye on your analytics. Every email audience is different; the data you collect from your email subscribers will tell you what subjects will work for yours.

DO: Keep it short and sweet. Stick to the industry standard of 70 characters max, or go even shorter: after all, most mobile phones can’t display a subject of more than 6 or 7 words in the inbox. With 54% of email opens now happening on mobile, concise email copy ensures success wherever your audience goes.

BOOM! Done. You are now a subject line expert! Hopefully these tips will inspire new subject lines that will give your campaigns a whole new look and, more importantly, engage your audience more so than ever before. Once you nail that first impression, readers will be coming back for more, all of which increases your chance of conversions.

Still, it’s not enough to stop your efforts at the email itself; you have to make sure your email’s call-to-action leads to a conversion-optimized landing page. To bring your emails and landing pages in sync, download our free guide, “How Marketers Can Drive More Traffic from an Email to a Landing Page.” You’re already rocking those killer subject lines; why not have a rockin’ conversion rate too?

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