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Email Subject Lines that Don’t Suck: 6 Hot Tips

Written By The Art of Business Content Team

Oh the challenges of email marketing… Honestly, there was a time not too long ago when you threw 90% of your snail mail straight into the trash and in turn, did a little chair dance when you received an email. Nowadays, (I use this word because it makes me feel very old and wise) it’s the opposite, 90% of our emails get junked and we are surprised and excited to get a solid piece of mail.

So now that I have aged myself, let’s talk about how to avoid ending up in someone’s junk folder. We’re going to talk about the first thing that decides if your email even gets OPENED (I know, how dare they, you worked so hard on it!) is a KILLER subject line. Oh yes, your painstakingly gorgeous newsletter just went poof, straight to the trash without even being opened. Here’s why, 35% of recipients open emails based on subject lines alone and 69% report emails as spam based on a subject line (Source: Convince & Convert).

Shocked? Well you shouldn’t be, you do it too! (The first step is admittance) So the next time you go through your daily heap of emails, stop yourself and see what it is YOU look for, what catches your eye? What makes you open verses trash an email? And log that away for the next time you write a catchy subject line. In the meantime, here are six tips and tricks to writing a trash-proof subject line:

1. Be intriguing.

What does that mean? Let’s say you are talking about cats in your newsletter and how they react to zucchini (probably worth a google), your title is “Cats are terrified of zucchini.” What you SHOULD write is “Cats are completely terrified of THIS… and it’s hilarious.” Because maybe they already know that cat’s are mentally insane when it comes to elongated vegetables and they have their answer. By not giving away the answer, you leave them curious enough to open your email and find out, thus giving you the opportunity to wow them with all your other content. So be vague, intriguing, and intentionally unclear, leave a cliffhanger, do all of the things that, if you did them in a relationship, you would get dumped for. People love that shit.

2. Communicate urgency.

FOMO. Nobody likes it. If you can indicate that something is right there but at any minute poof it will be lost to someone, they’re going to want it. This is easily achieved by a subject line of “Only two hours to save on this AMAZING deal!” or “Act now, because as of tomorrow, it will be gone!” (Side fun fact: Subjects including the word “tomorrow” boosted open rates by 10%) To sum up, 56% of people are afraid of missing something such as an event, news or important status update if they don’t keep an eye on their social media. The fomo is real.

3. Free stuff for the win!

Some might say that using the word “free” in your subject line is a direct, non-stop ticket to the trash bin. This is simply not the case, studies have shown that these emails have the same inbox placement as emails that do not include the word free. And let’s be honest, we all love free stuff, free shipping, free coupons, free sample, free wine (I can dream). So the next time you think “better not add the spam word ‘free’.” go ahead and use it, capitalize that sucker and let your recipient know you love them and are offering something just for them and it’s FREE!

4. What’s up, Sarah!?

Okay, now imagine if your name were Sarah, you would have been like, “Wait, WHOA!” just now. It would have caught your attention. Emails work the same. Personalize those babies. Your customers like knowing that you know who you are emailing; they are not just some random address on a random list. So insert their name, some platforms like Drip enable you to use the ‘recipients name’ feature so you can streamline those emails easily, but some don’t. But we know that the payoff is huge because it increases click-through rates by 14% and conversions by 10%. And that is definitely worth the extra time, right, Carl?

5. Story-time!

Everyone loves a good story, and a surefire way to get someone interested in reading that story is to tease the idea of it. “How I managed to build a house entirely of wine bottles… and why.” Realistically, you can talk about how you began your business or how you overcame challenges. People lean into a story; it builds a connection between them and the brand and humanizes an otherwise very commercial front. Don’t be afraid to show your humanity and connect with people through your own story, one that inspires you. And use the hook line as your subject line!

6. Events and Announcements.

Again with the FOMO, people really do like hearing about what is going on with a company they follow (Otherwise, why would you have their email?) I don’t know about you, but the subject line, “You’re invited! Here are two FREE tickets!” would get me interested (And that’s not just because I have spent the last 6 months of my life in quarantine because of COVID) People want to be at events, see celebrations, it’s human nature to be nosy. Use that. 😉 Whether it’s, “You’re invited to our 50th Anniversary sale!” or “Grand opening, you’re invited!” those are worth a click for sure!

Bonus tip: An accurate email address is just as important as a well-crafted subject line when it comes to email deliverability and open rates. In fact, your email’s success may hinge on these two factors working together. One way to ensure that your email’s message gets through is to use a verified email finder tool to find accurate email addresses for your recipients. This tool will help you avoid bounced emails and spam filters, which can harm your campaign’s success.

To wrap up, try to really pay attention when you are going through your own email, see what catches your eye and what glazes over and heads into the trash bin. In the end, as simple as one line can be, it REALLY does matter when it comes to your email even getting opened. We’ll get into the content of your newsletter or email another time, but if you want to read some more fun things on marketing check this out.

I hope this info helps out for your future newsletters, and be sure to let us know if you have any questions or comments, we love to hear it!