Does something as short as an email subject line warrant its own article?

Well, if email marketing has one of the highest ROIs in the marketing industry, and if the subject line is the one thing that determines whether a recipient opens your email or not, then the quality and success of your subject lines are indeed important things to focus on.

There is much misinformation out there about crafting a great subject line. Ignore the noise and focus on these 6 strategies to give your subject lines the best chance for success:

1. Ignore length limits (within reason). Though there’s a persistent rumor that short subject lines perform better, tests have failed to prove this. You should let other factors determine the length of your subject lines. However, do keep in mind that 40% of emails are now opened on mobile and the max number of subject line words that will fit on a screen is likely around 6 or 7.

2. Lead with the most important part. People who get a lot of email skim through subject lines to glean what’s important. If you’re communicating with a person about something you think they’d have an active interest in, lead with that. For instance, if you’re dealing with subscribers, start your subject line with “Your subscription:” to help them quickly pick out that it’s important and not just more mailbox spam.

3. Make room for variety. Once you find a subject line format that works, you may be tempted to stick with it. But if you’re sending a weekly or bimonthly message, your recipients may soon tire of the same headline. Instead, build a roster of 5-6 subject line types (question, declarative, descriptive, etc.) and rotate between them to add some variety.

4. Add personalization. Many email platforms now offer the ability to merge personalizations into the subject lines of emails. For example, you may be able to merge in the person’s first name or city to make the email seem more relevant to them. One study found that personalized subject lines are 22% more likely to be opened.

5. Create urgency. In this day and age, we all get too much email, and most of our mailboxes have unread promo messages from 2 months ago. Research has found that subject lines with phrases that create urgency were opened 22% more than those without them. To separate your message from the pack, add a sense of urgency by mentioning time-sensitive phrases like “Today only”, “Sale ending tomorrow”, or “Re:”.

6. To learn what works, test. Almost all email platforms now provide convenient A/B testing that allows you to select 2 or 3 subject lines and see which one does best. You don’t even have to wait for your next mailing to take advantage of the findings—these platforms usually let you perform the test with the first 20% of recipients, and then send the remaining 80% of emails with the best performing subject line.

Are you a subject line expert? How did you stumble on your success? Shoot us an email, or get in touch with us on Facebook!

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