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Email newsletters are only effective if you can actually get people to open them and read the content inside. The trouble is 105 billion emails are sent every single day so people are inundated with more content than they can handle. If your email subject line doesn’t make a good impression there’s a good chance your email may never be opened.
Fortunately, there are some simple tips and formulas for writing email subject lines that drastically increase their open rates. Read on to find out more.
1. Controversial & humorous email subject lines
This is a strategy that can work to great effect – but usually only if you have a smaller audience that you know really well. Controversy (or the shock factor) grabs attention and hooks people in. I recently saw an email subject line that said “Everyone is gay”. It definitely made me curious to open it to find out what their viewpoint was but if a lot of people on that company’s email list were anti-homosexuality that could result in a negative backlash.
2. Email subject lines with numbers & lists
For some strange reason most people’s brains are drawn to numbered lists. They create curiosity and they make it a lot easier for us to process information than a giant wall of text. Incorporating numbers into your subject line is a great way to help attract attention. Consider using subject lines like “6 Embarrassing Mistakes of Famous Scientists” or “19 Reasons why Australia’s Stock Market Will Crash in 2020”.
3. Questions & mystery
Questions and the use of intrigue or mystery are other great hooks that force people to read your email. If someone asks you a question, it is human nature to want to be able to respond and if someone leads with an element of mystery we want to solve the puzzle. “Tell us what happened” or “What’s the answer” are the things that run through our brain. You could ask a question like “Are you annoying your boss?” (if you were a career consultancy firm) or use an element of mystery, for example, “Insane Medical Advancements You Won’t Believe are Real” if you are a plastic surgeon.
4. Avoid words that trigger spam filters
There are several words to steer clear of in your subject lines if you don’t want to end up marked as “spam”, or blacklisted by the email service provider. Be very cautious around your use of words like “Sale”, “Free”, “Donate” or any sexually explicit language as these may trigger your spam filter. Also steer clear of using ALL CAPS. This is the email equivalent of shouting at someone and is not appreciated; it also will increase your likelihood of getting marked as spam.
5. Personalisation & exclusivity
We all want to feel special or like we are given exclusive insight into something behind the scenes. If you’re sending out an exclusive invite to only part of your VIP mailing list, make sure you include that in your subject line.
You can also use your email marketing automation software to include people’s first name in the subject heading so if you were selling a herbal sleep remedy for instance you could send out an email that says, “Melanie, When’s the last time you had a really good sleep?” When Melanie receives the email, her name will show up but when John receives the email it will have his name in the subject line (i.e. it will be personalised for each receiver even if you have a list of 10,000 followers).
Localisation keywords can also be used to the same effect. If you’re a nationwide company with outlets in several cities, you could segment your email list by nearest city and then send out emails with the names of the cities included. This helps target customers in a more personal fashion also, again increasing open rates.
Other factors that influence open rates are sending emails at the right time and making sure it is clear to email subscribers where emails are coming from. Sometimes I’ve received emails from large companies and the email “from” line has featured the name of an individual I didn’t know. So, I deleted the email thinking it was spam. If you are a large business, either use the name of your company as the “from” sender or the individual’s name plus the company name to maintain strong brand recognition.