What Makes a Good Email Subject Line?

Good Email Subject Line

Subject lines are the single most important thing when it comes to email marketing. They decide the fate of your email, full stop. No matter the quality of the email and the offer it advertises, it will serve no purpose if the subject line isn’t effective. Shortly put, your email will end up being either deleted or flagged as spam.

Now, there are tips and tricks to everything in email marketing, but when it comes to subject lines, every brand has to find the best formula. The matter depends on so many factors that it is impossible to follow a template.

People being people, psychology plays a major role in this instance (as it does in everything else, for that matter), so rather than racking your brains coming up with a keyword-rich subject line, appeal to recipients’ emotions. Let’s see how to go about that!

Creating Urgency

What Makes a Good Email Subject Line?

Offers that solve immediate issues are universally welcome by everyone. How do you define those issues, though? Simple – by using insights. Purchase history and shopping cart abandonment are the two best hints.

As regards cart abandonments, the easiest way to find out what went wrong is by asking the customer directly. No, it is not considered bad manners and no, it’s not unwelcome. In fact, the majority of abandonments are due to a technical issue, so solving the issue will do the trick (and also prevent further abandonments, so definitely a win-win).

Customize the Offer

What Makes a Good Email Subject Line?

Not everyone is looking for the same product, but of course, you already know that thanks to the insights. Knowing your audience(s) is the first step to creating any kind of marketing plan, especially email marketing campaigns.

Some brands have two types of customers: regulars and VIPs. Naturally, the two groups are bound to be looking for different price ranges and different products and services altogether.

Make an effort to prepare two different email campaigns in line with their needs. I.e., send discount offers to regulars and exclusive offers to VIPs.

Both groups value reliability and consistency, so don’t forget to send them a welcome message after subscription and a thank you message after each purchase, and ask for their opinion with regards of what you can do better. As a rule, people don’t shun answering such queries because they prefer loyal brands to searching for new ones each time they need to make a purchase.

Use Keywords Sparingly

Email keywords

Keywords are all the rage these days and not without a good reason. However, when emails are concerned, they should be used sparingly and fit well in the subject line. Simply dropping a keyword in the subject line without giving context and grammar a regard is plain wrong.

Email marketing agency Alchemy Worx has discovered that the five most efficient keywords are “go,” “just,” “upgrade,” “content” and “wonderful,” followed by “congratulations,” “promotional,” “snapshot,” “deduction” and “voluntary.”

According to Adestra and Smart Insights, the most effective subject line keywords are: “alert,” “free delivery,” “available,” “news” and “new.”

Other high-ranked subject line keywords are “introducing.” “back in stock,” “order today,” “orders over,” “breaking,” “off selected,” “brand new,” “thanks,” “thank you,” “sale starts,” “great deals,” “iPhone,” “available,” “latest,” “golden,” “bulletin” and “special.”   

As you can see, choices are many; fitting in one of these keywords shouldn’t be difficult for any topic. Also, numbers increase open rates so fit one in if it suits the topic.

Subject Line Length

What Makes a Good Email Subject Line?

Subject lines must not be cut. Recipients should be able to read them in their entirety without having to open an email.

Again, use insights to determine what devices and OS recipients are using, but we can help. In the great majority of cases, these will be iPhone and Gmail. The subject line length limit for the first is 41 and for the second – 70 characters.

The shorter the subject line, the better it is. If you can come up with a meaningful subject line that announces the offer effectively, stick to 41 characters or less.

Be Consistent

Consistency is one of the most important factors people evaluate when choosing the brand they are willing to be loyal to in the long run. It is only understandable, since nowadays everyone is trying to make a profit doing pretty much anything online and in numerous instances, they don’t really know what they are doing.

The best example would be people who don’t know the value of an email list, so they send random messages to random people. Of course, this is the fastest way for an email to end up flagged as spam.

Even if you know you have built a quality email list, sending emails styled differently is a bad idea. Successful brands have put in considerable efforts to build their reputation. Building trust and reliability is a never-ending process. Even if you have a number of loyal customers, they will quickly turn to competition if you make a mistake (or worse – keep repeating mistakes).

Stick to the tone of voice you normally use at all times. If you use the formal tone, don’t experiment with sending funny emails to your customers and vice versa.

Mind the Timing and Frequency of Your Emails

International brands have it especially difficult with email marketing campaigns because they have to mind multiple time zones. Did you know that the average office worker receives 90 emails daily? It’s only to be expected that they scan them rather than read them and decide which ones are important.

Therefore, the fate of your email doesn’t rely only on the quality of the subject line, but also on its inbox placement. It’s similar to ranking, really. If your message is somewhere in the middle, chances are, it will be disregarded because the recipient doesn’t have enough time to read it.

The best time to send emails is 8 am or 4 pm, because people commonly access their inboxes around breakfast and then before the end of the day.

Also, mind the frequency of your emails. Even the finest of offers won’t be appreciated if you send them every day. One to two emails per week will suffice. In the case of newsletters, decide whether you will be sending them weekly, bi-monthly or monthly and stick to the schedule.

Last but not least, always send personalized emails.

In a Nutshell

Overall, we’d say proper subject lines, timing, frequency and personalization of the emails are the four most important factors when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Don’t be afraid to experiment if you don’t have a perfect formula yet. Ask your customers for feedback and use insights to your benefit.

Email marketing has become so sophisticated nowadays that we won’t be surprised to learn it’s been flagged as art. Look for success examples and test-send your emails. Check them out on multiple devices, especially if you use emojis. Stick to the winning combination and remember to be consistent.

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