Email marketing can sometimes seem like a long, winding road filled with road blocks to avoid.
One of the most important, yet difficult road blocks when it comes to email marketing is crafting an effective subject line.
Today, we’re going to help you avoid some of the most common problems when it comes to writing a great email subject line, and we’ll help set your email marketing on the straight road to success.
Let’s look at three words you should never use in your email marketing subject lines. These words are free, cure and credit.
Why shouldn’t you use them? In a nutshell, they can negatively affect your open rates and the actions people take in your emails.
In addition, these three little words can trigger spam filters and get your emails flagged, rendering them undeliverable.
Free, Cure and Credit
Everyone likes something “free,” right? And, who wouldn’t like the “cure” to what ails them or a fix for their credit?
While people like free things, cures and credit fixes, this is probably not what they signed up for when they joined your list. So, subject lines with these words are likely to be ignored.
But, more importantly, all three of these words are words you should never use in your email marketing because they can cause your email to get stopped by spam filters.
These words all by themselves can hurt your sender reputation and get your email list blacklisted. Try expressing their value in another way that doesn’t trigger spam filters.
Now that we’ve looked at the three words you shouldn’t use, let’s look at how to craft a great subject line to increase your open rate, reduce your bounce rate and increase your conversions.
Because your subject line is the first, and unfortunately sometimes the last, impression you have on users, remember that your subject line is more important than the body of your email.
Think of it as the doorway to conversions, and if they don’t open the doorway, your email is worthless, and you lose the customer.
We want your emails to get opened. Here are several ways to craft effective email marketing subject lines.
The Simple and Succinct Subject Line
A good rule of thumb when writing email subject lines is to be as clear and direct as possible.
Most people will decide to open your email based on the subject line alone, so short, descriptive subject lines are better than longer ones that slightly misrepresent the content.
Simple, succinct subject lines work best for emails with a specific purpose and for something that your subscriber is expecting.
For example, you always offer a first-Friday discount. A short, succinct subject line works here because your subscribers expect to receive it.
The Humorous Subject Line
Boring subjects are just that, boring. Delight your subscribers and increase the chances that they’ll open your email by injecting some humor into your subject line.
This helps set your email apart from the crowd, but you do have to be careful. Know your audience well and use humor with highly targeted emails. Be sure that your humor can’t be misconstrued and offensive.
Cleverness is often appreciated, but don’t be too clever. You do want people to understand your subject line. Don’t veer too far away from the body of your email with your subject line and don’t suggest something they won’t see inside.
The Numbered Subject Line
Numbers get things opened. Consider these two subject lines:
- Find Tips on Opening Your Swimming Pool Inside
- 7 Tips for Opening Your Swimming Pool in Less Than One Hour
The subject line labeling the number of tips is going to garner the most opens. It’s succinct and tells the reader exactly what to expect.
Our brains process lists well, and bulleted lists make skimming easier.
One tip when it comes to writing subject lines with numbers – aim for an odd number like 3, 5, 7 or 9. Emails with an odd number of tips are opened more often than an even number.
Why? It seems we can remember odd numbered lists better.
Lastly, in your title, don’t spell out the number, but write the number itself.
The Question Subject Line
Another way to encourage email opens is to pose a question in your subject line.
Consider asking an emotionally engaging question and then promise a solution.
The Subject with Scarcity
Humans are propelled to act when they think something is about to disappear. We just don’t want to miss out.
How many times have you opened an email and taken an action when there were “only 50 left,” or the 50% sale “ended at midnight?”
Don’t use this subject all the time. Save it for the truly special times when the scarcity is actually true.
Best Practices for Subject Lines
When it comes to subject lines, you know to leave out those three words – free, credit and cure – and you have some tips on crafting clever subject lines to increase your conversion rate.
Now, let’s look at some basic rules to remember when writing email marketing subject lines:
- Keep your subject lines to about 50 characters. They have higher open rates.
- In your email program, test several subject lines. See what works and use that as an example for next time.
- If you must use an exclamation point, never use more than one.
- Never use all caps. You might have heard that sentences with all caps are seen as someone shouting at you. Don’t be this marketer.
- Personalize your emails. Words like you and your work great. If you’re using the subscribers’ names, make sure your list is clean.
- The from email should either be your company name or an email with your company’s domain.
- Don’t write deceiving subject lines. Your subject must match your content, or you risk losing opens in the future.
- Don’t overuse symbols.
- Use pre-headers, but don’t repeat the subject line.
- Other words not to use: earn, $, guaranteed, whitepaper, report, collect, claim, increase and urgent.
Did you know that 86% of the world’s email traffic is unsolicited junk email or spam? That accounts for nearly 400 billion spam messages sent each day.
Of those spam emails, most of them never see the inside of a user’s inbox.
You don’t want your emails to end up in your subscriber’s spam folders. That’s why you should commit the three words – free, cure and credit – to memory and never use them in your email marketing subject lines.
In addition, make sure you have permission to email the people on your list. Don’t use spammy subject lines and always include an unsubscribe link so you are in compliance with the CAN-SPAM act.
Lastly, for the best email marketing success, give your subscribers what they want, and what you told they’d get from you in the subject line. Pay attention to your unsubscribe rate and fine-tune your emails and your subject lines as necessary.
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Image: Alex Siale