The Formula for a Perfect Subject Line

The Formula for a Perfect Subject Line

First impressions are important and it’s no different when it comes to email marketing. Your subject line is the first thing that your recipient will read, and possibly the only thing if it fails to entice and capture interest. An email is only as good as its subject line so if it’s rubbish, your email could be deleted in seconds without even being opened, meaning all that time and hard work you’ve put into creating engaging and valuable content is wasted.

With the average business person receiving over 100 emails a day there’s a lot of competition these days to stand out in your audience’s inbox, so your subject lines need to be attention grabbing and irresistible. These following tips will help you formulate the perfect subject line, boosting your click-through rates and making sure your hard work doesn’t end up in the trash.

Keep it short

Around 50 characters should be your maximum. Your subject line will probably only receive a quick glance so if the reader can’t work out what it’s about straight away it’s probably getting deleted.

“28-39 characters had the highest click rate in a study of
200 million emails” a recent MailChimp study found.

A short subject line also helps with mobile compatibility, something everyone creating an email campaign should be thinking about.

Keep it clear and simple

Keep your subject line clear and avoid ambiguity, your audience does not want to have to work out what the email is about, they want to know what to expect before they open it. Many think a reader’s curiosity may get the better of them, unfortunately this is not normally the case.

Keep it relevant

Target your emails. Segmenting your subscriber list will mean your recipients are more likely to receive emails that relate and interest them, meaning they are more likely to open your emails. Looking at it from another angle, if a recipient finds only 1 out of every 10 emails you send is relevant to them this is likely to cause frustration and see them unsubscribe.

Don’t lie

If your subject line promises something which isn’t there when your recipient opens the email, you run the risk of losing credibility. Don’t hide behind false pretences to make your email more clickable as it will make your company seem unreliable and untrustworthy, whilst increasing the chances of the unsubscribe button being the next thing to be clicked. If the contents of your email needs to be lied about for people to open it, maybe you shouldn’t be sending it in the first place.

Keep it in tone

Remember who you are and who your audience is. Although it might be tempting to follow current trends make sure you are using the right language, tone of voice and content to suit your business and your subscribers. For example, if you are sending out finance newsletters to CFOs you probably don’t want to be including emojis and hashtags in your subject lines.

Use the right language

The internet is filled with endless contradictory advice on what language and wording you should and shouldn’t use in your subject lines, so here are just a few of the best pointers you can’t go wrong with:

  • Start with an action-orientated verb. Actionable subject lines are similar to call-to-actions, and tend to be more enticing to your subscribers, as well as creating a sense of urgency making them more clickable.
  • Use a question. Arouse curiosity in your readers by posing them a question. Doing so can inspire readers to open your email in search of the answer.
  • Convey a clear benefit to your reader. What will the reader get out of opening your email? Make it obvious what the recipient can expect to gain if they choose to click your email, e.g ‘Learn the Future Trends of Content Marketing’.
  • Avoid overly sales-like language. Pushy sales subject lines are likely to be fast tracked straight into the junk folder, without your recipient even getting to acknowledge them. Steer clear of words such as ‘free’, ‘buy’ and ‘claim’ and focus on sharing information and knowledge your readers will find useful.
“When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside,
and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside”

These simple, actionable tips should get you on your way to crafting emails that your subscribers can’t wait to open and read. Subject lines are often an afterthought, but are hugely important to the success of your email marketing campaigns, and are something that should be tested throughout in order to figure out what works best to entice your subscribers and how to improve future campaigns. Just remember, your recipients are just like you, so think about what makes you hit the delete button when you look through your own emails or receive a new mail message

Amie Lovell

Meet Amie, Marketing Manager here at Inbox. She looks after everything from our content and blog articles to newsletters and social. Her passion is delivering engaging content that resonates with our target audience while promoting thought leadership, to drive brand awareness and trust in what we do.
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