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How To Create Killer Subject Lines And Improve Your Open Rates

Written by Anna Milward on February 23, 2016

It’s a universally acknowledged fact that the average email inbox is completely overwhelmed with messages. Between work and personal emails, daily deal sites, news sites and social media notifications, competition is stiff for email marketers who are trying to get their messages heard among the general deluge of emails hitting their recipients’ inboxes.

So how does the average email recipient decide what messages to open and what to ignore or delete? The subject line is one of the main deciding factors and if you want to increase your open rates and see better results, your subject line is something that you have to nail.

What makes a great email subject line?

The email subject lines that people can’t resist clicking on are usually the ones that create some form of interest and intrigue. Your subject line should show the recipient why they need to open your email and how they will benefit when they do.

This may sound challenging, especially if you’re not a professional marketer or copywriter. If you’re not sure where to start, you can try a few well known subject line formats that are popular with marketers and have been shown to get great results.

  1. The questioning email subject line. A great strategy for creating compelling email subject lines is to ask a question. This leaves the reader hanging and makes them want to open the email to find out the answer.
  2. The “how to…” email subject line. One of the most straightforward and easiest to apply to just about any context. Pick a benefit of using your product or service, and insert “how to” in front of it. Just make sure the content of the email delivers or your readers will get annoyed.
  3. The “do you want…” subject line. Similar to the “how to” subject line, the trick with this one is to understand your target customers well enough to know what they ultimately want to achieve and then dangle it in front of them.
  4. The list email subject line. Lists are a great way to present information in any online format and emails are no exception. Numbers stand out amid a sea of letters and lists make it clear what is in the email so readers can see at a glance whether it will be of interest to them.
  5. The mysterious email subject line. Using words like ‘secret’, ‘hidden,’ and ‘mysterious’ in subject lines can pique your recipients’ curiosity and make it more likely they will open the email to solve the mystery.

Whatever subject line format you use, it’s essential that your email delivers as promised. Using a tantalising subject line to get attention without providing your readers with the promised information is only going to alienate your recipients, destroy their trust and have a negative effect in the long term.

Whether you use one of the standard subject lines or try something a little more creative, a great email subject line is your best tool to being opened and read. If you want to improve your open rates, why not experiment with a few different subject lines and see what happens?

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