Steve White

10 subject line tactics

An average person is bombarded with hundreds of emails/email subject lines to look at every day. Most of us have developed an anti-headline defence: simply ignoring or deleting any emails which have uninteresting subject lines. So it stands to reason that a subject line has a big impact on the success of an email. If the subject line does not convince people to read on, the money and time spent on creating the email is wasted. Today I’d like to share with you a few simple but useful tips on how to write a subject line to ensure a high open rate using a few examples from my inbox.

1 Ask a question

Asking a question gets people interacting with you, as you naturally feel compelled to answer a question. By simply adding a question mark to your email subject lines you can engage your recipients. Even better, pair it with a person’s name to really catch the reader’s eye.

2 Use a number

People favour subject lines which contain a number, probably because it gives them some certainty of a quick and easy read. It also is easier for our brains to process numbers and follow the pattern. Whatever the subject of the email, break it down by numbers in the subject line and most people would find it very appealing.

3 Use humour

A funny subject line can nicely stand out from the boring dry emails around it. If you know your target audience and are sure the joke will be understood, then a funny subject line can get your email opened and can increase your reputation (of course it also depends on what you are selling.)

4 Shock them

People tend to pay attention and remember the things that bring some emotions. If your subject line contains something people would not expect to receive in their email it would most likely make them want to open it and see what the email is about. Not a lot of companies use this technique as it’s a little risky especially if you don’t totally understand your audience.

5 Be personal

Being personal is another technique to increase open rates. By being personal I don’t mean using a person’s name because it already became so common that most people associate it with spam. Instead, use person’s location, preferences, language, interests etc. The first example here was used as the last item I was looking for at Amazon was bathroom scales, so Amazon retargeted me specifically on the item I was interested in.

6 Use punctuation and symbols

I’m not going to say much about this as it is pretty obvious, unusual symbols and punctuation drags attention and creates curiosity. Full stop.

7 ‘Missing out’

This is one of the most popular techniques to increase open rates – make people feel like they urgently need to buy what you offer or they will miss out. Everybody has this fear of being left behind which makes people buy more than they need (which is obviously good for us marketers). Use some numbers, message of scarcity and partial capitalisation together with punctuation and you will be surprised how quickly your open rate will increase.

8 Intrigue them

People always need a feeling of mystery in their lives; it simply makes life more interesting (well at least that’s what the movies show us). Intriguing people with your subject line might make them want to find out more and click on it to read further.

9 Tell them what to do

Convince people to open your email by telling them what to do and you’ll be surprised, they will do it!

10 Make it simple

For the last point here I’ll say minimalism is always a good idea. Our busy environment does not allow us to spend much time reading and analysing each email and simple subject lines may help us save our precious time. Just make it short, clear and to the point. Just say whatever you offer and make the recipients decide whether they are interested or not.