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7 Ways to Create "Gotta-Open-This-Email" Subject Lines

Posted on 9.29.2013

:: By Samantha Stallard, SalesFUSION ::


The old expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” has no place in digital marketing. Everything is judged quickly and ruthlessly, especially when it comes to the subject line of your email campaigns. If it doesn’t immediately scream, “Read me! I’m interesting, relevant and important!” it will be deleted faster than you can say “Open and click through rate.”

Whether this be through a question, a bold statement, or a brief content description, email subject lines must be relevant to the needs and wants of recipients.

We want to prove our worth to recipients and reestablish an existing relationship since there’s a history of engagement between you. Maybe they’ve been cookied by clicking on a link inside a previous email or filled out an online form on your website. However the relationship began, we want to nurture it even further with continued email correspondence.

Here are 7 ways to create irresistible subject lines to keep email recipients engaged and intrigued:

1. Keep it simple: Subject lines introduce your email’s message. That’s it. Don’t complicate the subject line’s purpose by rambling - stick to 50 characters or less if possible.

• This reads as whining/apologizing and discredits your message.
• You don’t have to apologize for sending email campaigns because, as a marketer, this is one of the mediums used to interact with your database. 

2. Be honest: Whatever claim you make in the subject line, you must deliver in the email body. Dishonest subject lines tarnish business relationships.

• Recipients must be able to trust that you deliver on your promises, so state the message of your email in the form of a question or declaration.
• Otherwise, your emails are seen as a gimmick, which will earn you a direct flight to the spam folder. 

3. Identify yourself: As you establish a relationship with your email recipients and nurture them, your company’s name in their inbox alone should compel them to open the email.

• Until then, including your company name means you take responsibility for the email’s content - something a spammer would never do.
• Try starting emails with your company name in [brackets] or (parentheses), as this doesn’t interrupt your subject line’s message. 

4. Use actionable language: Tell recipients what you want from them and create a sense of urgency - engagement increases when recipients feel as if they’re racing the clock.

• Keep your verb count high with commands and be clear to recipients what you’d like them to do with the information provided.
• Include verbs like, “take,” “order,” “sign up,” or “register.” 

5. Craft a compelling message: While this is almost as frustrating as being told to avoid stress, it can be done. Incredibly segmented email campaigns have higher open and click rates.

• Present brand new industry information - being the first to present new statistics/numbers establishes credibility.
• Once again, make sure that information is relevant. It doesn’t matter how great your data is, health care industry stats won’t matter to a recipient list of software companies. 

6. Personalize it: Don’t be so impersonal that recipients feel like just another email address taking up a row on your Excel spreadsheet. Implement dynamic content like their name, company, and even title.

• At the very least this catches readers’ attention and forces them to recount how your company has their information.
• Include their name in a question, such as “Have you registered yet, Susie?” or “Bobby, what are you waiting for?” 

7. Edit, then edit again: The first draft of your subject line will probably be too long. See how many words you can remove without compromising your message (or grammar).

• Keep it short, like we said earlier, 50 characters or less, but don’t send a one word subject line. Use prefixes and abbreviations to shorten if needed.
• Always write your email content first. Its easier to build a sentence off of paragraph than the other way around. 

While you’re implementing all of these tips and testing them against each other, be sure to avoid common spam filter triggers in your subject lines. Do not get too comfortable with the CAPS LOCK KEY, exclamation points, obscure symbols or sales-y words like “Free,” “Act Now,” “Limited time only,” or “Guarantee.”

Remember, your subject line introduces your message to recipients; it doesn’t have to sell that message. Subject lines should spark curiosity, while remaining simple, honest and compelling.

About the Author: Samantha Stallard works for SalesFUSION, a leading marketing automation platform with HQ in Atlanta, GA. Samantha is a veteran of the Marketing Automation trenches and served as the lead onboarding specialist for SalesFUSION and has trained hundreds of novice marketing automation users. She has thousands of hours of experience working in the trenches – developing, testing, and troubleshooting campaigns for both SalesFUSION and their 450+ customers.

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