The Art of Subject Lines

About Jen Glanville

Standing out in an inbox full of emails is tough. The window of opportunity to intrigue the recipient is small, but a quality subject line can capture  attention and draw your audience in. It has to be snappy, succinct, clever and accurately represent the email’s content. Follow this guide to become a true connoisseur of this fine art.

Say What’s in it for Them.

One message that will always resonate with consumers is how a product or service will benefit them. People are busy, so be direct when explaining the value of the service or offer.

Ask Questions

Timely questions with the right target audience is a great way to elicit a response because people can’t help but want to answer them. Pair the question with the recipient’s first name to make the subject line extra-personalized and appealing.

Example: “Liz, do you need a vacation?”

Keep it Clean

The last place you want your beautifully-scripted email to wind up is in the trash bin. Emails that end up in a spam folder include words like sale, dollar, $, free and words written in CAPS. Hopefully the recipients have put you on their authorized email list, but play it safe and keep spammy words to a minimum.

Include Fear of Missing Out

There’s nothing quite like outlining a deadline to get people moving. Words like “Today Only” or “For the Next 48 Hours” attract attention because people fear missing out on great value. This tactic is best used sparingly because over-use can discredit you.

Example: Today Only: 25% Off All Sweaters

Incorporate Humour

If on brand, humour can liven up emails that may be getting stale. Groupon and Buzzfeed do a great job of keeping things fresh and conversational. Just be sure to test out the subject line on a few coworkers to make sure the humour is clear and invokes the right response.

Example: “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”

Keep it Short

Regardless of what approach you take, try to keep the copy succinct; six to eight words is the sweet spot. More and more people use their mobile phones to check their email, so if the subject line can’t be read on a mobile screen, your email could get trashed. Remember, short and sweet can’t be beat.

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