Blog

Day 22 – Writing Effective Email Subject Lines

31 days to write better text by Denise Fay : Achieve MarketingWhat’s the point of writing a fantastic email when no-one opens it? It’s like owning a shop and watching people walk by your door, day in, day out. It can get weary and in the end, you give up trying to entice them into your shop. You close the door and walk away. The same thing could happen to you with your email marketing campaigns. You give them up. Before you do that, you need to take a better look at your email subject line.

Meeting Expectations

To order to encourage people to open your email, you need an enticing subject line that matches their expectations. A lot of people who mail don’t really think about expectations. They just want to communicate, build a relationship or get a sale.

Think about where you got your email listing from. Did you buy it? Did you grow it organically? Did you offer a free report? Did you offer a 20% discount off the first purchase?

The answers to the questions matter.

  • If your newsletter listing prefers a ‘soft-sell’, then use subject lines that offer advice.
  • If your newsletter listing prefers is a ‘hard-sell’, then offer discounts.

Match your subject line with the expectations of the group. If you have to segment your database, segment it. You will see an automatic response in your open rates.

Length of Subject Line

The general rule of thumb is that your subject line should be fifty characters or less. The one for today’s article is 48 characters. 50 characters isn’t much, is it?

This is where you need to plan your emails…whether they are for a promotion, email newsletter or a simple one-to-one email that needs an answer.

You need to work your email around your 50-character-or-less subject line. That way, you’ll really focus on the subject line and not just write it as an after-thought.

5 Tips to Write Effective Email Subject Lines

In order to avoid your email hitting the email dustbin, here are a few tips to write effective email campaigns.


1. 50-characters-or-less mantra
Keep focusing on the 50 characters. If you focus on the 50 characters, you will highlight the most important fact of the email. It’s tough to do initially and it does take practice. It is easier to write “31 Days to Write Better Copy’ Series Deemed a Success” than “Copy-writing programme run-away success

  • 31 Days to Write Better Copy’ Series Deemed a Success : 53 characters
  • Copy-writing Programme Run-Away Success : 39 characters

It takes time to condense your thoughts into 50 characters. Just keep practicing and focusing on the 50-characters-or-less rule.

2. Test your subject lines
Just because you start every newsletter with the same thing (e.g.) ‘Denisefay.com Newsletter’, doesn’t mean you have to do it all the time. Change it around and test it. People like variety, even if they’ve come to expect the same thing from you. Change one word or one phrase at a time.

3. Use curiosity with a deadline
We all hate to miss something. As social beings, we want to be included or at least know what’s going on. Magazine shelves are covered with magazines telling us about the lives of others. Use this curiosity connected with time on your subject line. “Order tonight by midnight or miss out.”, “3 days left until…“, “You’ve got 6 hours left before the...”

It’s a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ approach and it works. (Bearing in mind expectations of your newsletter database.

4. Be careful with certain words
Free‘ used to be the number one word that people responded to – they hit the delete button. Especially if it was accompanied by several exclamation points or written in all uppercase. However, don’t dismiss ‘free’ – it is still a useful word that can be used within a good sentence. You just have to remember who are emailing to.

Other words to be careful of are ‘percent off‘ and ‘reminder‘. Again, it goes to expectations of your email newsletter database. Sometimes these words can appear too salesy, too pushy and offensive.

5. Subject line must match content
If you test regularly and know what your readers are expecting, then don’t write a subject line that you know they’ll open but have content they’ll hate. You need to stay true to the content and the subject line. Don’t mislead your readers; it’s a huge turn-off and will encourage them to hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Day 22 – Homework

Go into your email box and look at the emails that were sent to you over the past 24 hours. What characteristics do they share? Take a look at:

  • Their length
  • The first word
  • The sentence structure
  • The topic
  • Your interest in the subject line

What action would you take with each of these emails? All are urgent and all are looking for your time. If you had 15 minutes, which ones would you open, file or delete within that 15 minutes?

Use this information when you go to write your next email.

About the Author

Denise FayI'm Denise Fay, an international marketing communications advisor. For over 16 years, I've been helping corporations and business owners to promote themselves by communicating the right message with the right audience. They achieve clarity, leads and sales. I'm also an award-winning author, engaging speaker, entrepreneur, business owner and mum of two, I have written copy that has won awards, won clients and most importantly, built relationships. Because at the end of the day, it all comes down to how we relate to others. And writing great copy that engages with your reader is well worth its weight in gold. You too can find wealth in your relationships. I can guide and help you find your words, create an engaging message and build a relationship that results in repeat sales with your customers & leads. Contact me today to get started. Come find me on Google+View all posts by Denise Fay →

  1. Sorcha Ní ScolaíSorcha Ní Scolaí10-29-2010

    Sound advise, based solely on the subject lines I delete a lot of mails because they just sound too good to be true!

Leave a Reply