How To Craft Subject Lines That Get Your Emails Opened
The most important part of any email is the subject line.
That’s because if the subject line doesn’t effectively capture your subscribers’ attention, then the rest of your email isn’t even going to get opened, much less read or clicked on. And that’s why you’ll want to invest some time in crafting compelling subject lines that your audience is sure to open.
Here's how to do it…
Step 1: Determine the Benefits of Your Email
You need to pull out the big guns in your subject line. In other words, what is the single biggest benefit the recipient will enjoy if he opens your email? That’s what needs to appear in the subject line.
For example, is the audience going to learn a faster and easier way to do something? Are they going to get a free tool? Are they going to get a special bonus or discount on a paid offer?
Whatever you do, don’t use a clickbait-style subject line. The subject needs to be both irresistibly compelling AND 100% relevant to the content inside the email.
Step 2: Draft a Variety of Compelling Subject Lines
Now that you know your main benefit, you need to brainstorm as many potential subject lines as you can think of that feature this benefit.
In addition to showcasing a benefit, you might also consider using social proof in your subject line.
Finally, just as with landing-page headlines, you can arouse curiosity with your email subject line in order to boost open rates.
For example, you can use the subject line to share a counterintuitive benefit, or you can simply use words like “secret” or “discover” to arouse curiosity.
In some cases, a question mark can make people curious enough to click. E.G., “Housetrain a senior rescue dog in as little as 48 hours?” The question mark exists because a lot of people think it’s really difficult to housetrain an older rescue dog, but this email subject line is suggesting it can be done in as little as 48 hours. People are going to be curious enough to click.
You can use these templates to get you started:
- The quick and easy way to [get a benefit]. E.G., The quick and easy way to shed 10 pounds.
- Are you making these [type of] mistakes? E.G., Are you making these costly home-buying mistakes?
- Who else wants [a benefit]? E.G., Who else wants a free dog trick-training video?
- The #1 way to [get a benefit]. E.G., The #1 way to get into med school (it’s not what you think).
- [Get a benefit] [without possessing something specific or doing some hard thing]? E.G., Land a $100k job without a college degree?
- Save [amount or percent] during this [limited] flash sale! E.G., Save 50% during this 12-hour flash sale!
Step 3: Develop Your Subject Line
Now that you have a draft of a subject line, you’ll want to do the following to further develop and improve it:
Keep it Short
Most email clients truncate long email subject lines. While the character count varies, generally it’s around 60-65 characters. As such, craft short subject lines that can capture attention in just a few words.
Consider Personalizing It
Most email clients let you personalize your emails with the recipient’s first name, including the subject line. While you don’t want to overuse this tactic, using the recipient’s first name every once in a while can really make a big impact.
- Are you at risk of a heart attack, John?
- This dog-training tip is for you, Suzy
- Jane, you can save 25% with this special offer…
Craft a Matching Preview
Most email clients let recipients preview the first line or two of the email without actually opening the email. As such, be sure your first line or two works hard to capture the reader’s attention.
For example, you might tell a story in the beginning of your email, being sure to use words that will intrigue any recipient who’s still looking at the preview.
E.G., “I could hardly believe my eyes when I opened up my PayPal account…”
Use a Swipe File
It’s a good idea to build a swipe file of subject lines from other people that have caught your attention. Then you can look to your file for inspiration.
For example, you may see a subject like this in your email: Who else wants tighter abs in just 5 minutes a day?
The basic formula for that subject line is this: Who else [wants a desired outcome] in just [a very short period of time]?
You can use it for inspiration to create your own subject:
Who else want to double their conversions in just 10 minutes?
- You can build this swipe file by subscribing to several good newsletters both inside and outside of your niche. You may even set up a special email address just to collect these newsletters. Then you can set up a folder where you copy the very best subject lines that caught your attention.
- You can also check out sales letter headlines since headlines follow the same basic formula as subject lines. Perhaps the only difference is that sales letter headlines tend to be longer, so you’ll need to focus on shorter ones.
- Finally, you can also look at swipe files other people have collected (both free and paid). For example, you can run a Google search for “email subject line swipe files.”
As always, you’ll want to test subject lines to improve your open rates. You can test the personalization (with or without), test whether icons improve or decrease open rates, test punctuation (e.g., question mark, no question mark, no punctuation at all) and, of course, test out different subject lines.
You just discovered how to craft effective email subject lines that catch attention and get people opening your emails. Be sure to commit to testing and tracking your subject lines so that you can determine which ones produce the best response.