rates that emails are open are impacted by subject line

Increase Email Open Rates: Steal My 7 Subject Line Tactics

If your subject lines suck, your email marketing campaign is dead in the water.

There is no gentle way to convey this point other than to be as harshly direct as possible.

One of easiest ways to increase your email open rates is to focus on what the user sees first. The subject link.

The only thing more detrimental to your email strategy is its deliverability.

Today, we address the value of increasing your email open rate by creating enticing subject lines.

When it comes to email marketing strategy, the subject line is the first thing the potential newsletter reader sees. If your subject line is subpar, your newsletter will get passed on and likely, a competitor will win the battle for the open.

Have you looked at your inbox lately?

Its filled with offers and news and promotions and updates and, oh yeah, personal communications from family and friends.

Visually, this cluttered arena known as your inbox is truly only divided by subject lines competing for your click.

Do you click on boring, uninspiring subject lines? You do not.

So why would you expect your email subscribers to click on them?

example of good email subject lines

The battle to win the eyes of the potential reader is won and lost in short order.

Most importantly, poor opening rates can lead to deliverability issues with email providers such as Google and Yahoo!.

So let’s break down how your business can improve email open rate with intelligent subject lines.

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1. How To Get More Email Opens: Subject Line Components

People Love Special Email Offers

Offers are the most prominent headlines seen in our inbox.

That’s rightfully so, of course, considering that offers are selling products and selling products make a ton of money. Offers tend to utilize subject lines which “offer” a great deal to the reader.

The enticement of cashing in on a deal is what generates the open.

For example, “FLASH SALE Starts NOW….50% off All MERCHANDISE.”

The offer subject line tells the consumer exactly what they will get when they open the newsletter. The consumer probably already enjoys the product seeing they are a subscriber in the first place, so the odds of generating a sale on behalf of the business is inflated.

Urgent and Time Sensitive

Urgent email subject lines are often associated with offers. The hook for the open is the “expiring time effect.” In my prior “offer” example, the “flash sale started NOW.” But when does the flash sale end?

Urgent headlines will focus on the expiration of time. “50% off All LOTIONS ends in 2 hours.”

The urgent email subject line appeals to the reader’s “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out.”

Trending Content Increases Open Rates

Utilizing trending subjects can be used for email marketing of all types. When a subject trends online, people’s interest in that subject is heightened. Due to this, people tend to recognize the trending terms in fashion visually.

For example, if “North Korea threatens United States with EMP attack” is trending news, you could create an email subject line that reads, “EMP attack threat…are you truly prepared?”

In this example, you might be a merchant who sells survival gear.

Trending topics such as The Super bowl also offer ample opportunity to cash in on trending news. A week before the big game, people are massively consuming all news related to the Super Bowl.

You could offer a sale that’s named after the big game just for the sake of getting a higher email click through rate.

Personalized Approach To Email

If your email collection process includes collecting personal details such as the subscriber’s name, you can parse that into your subject line, which may cause your subject line to stand out above the competitions.

Let’s face it; our eyes are always drawn to our names.

“Hey Roberto, we heard you love cast iron skillets.”

Additionally, you can also utilize your subscribers’ location information in subject lines.

“Every Minnesotan should know these winter safety tips.”
Such subject lines stand out more and do a great job of intimately bonding the subscriber with the business.

Use this simple formula for email open rate calculation.

How do you calculate email open rate

2. Shorter Is Better

Or is it?

The ideal length of an email subject line is hotly debated.

Email subject line length is highly dependent on many factors.

First, if your subject line is long, you increase the potential that you used low-value words.  This can hide the pertinent words which inspire a call to action.

Too many words can cause the reader to skim through and miss your email.

This isn’t to say that using more words is automatically a poor decision; it merely means you leave yourself with more room for error.

Devices and browsers can influence a subject line’s truncation.

A startling statistic about email marketing: Over half of all emails are opened on a mobile device. According to Campaignmonitor.

.Mobile devices will truncate the subject line quicker than a desktop browser will.

“Today only…your final chance at a 50% discount”

That subject line is an example of a “backloaded” subject line that has all the action at the end. How might that look on someone’s iPhone?

“Today only…your final chance at a”

The device matters.

The email software matters (are they using the iPhone’s innate email function or another application such as Spark?). If they are using a desktop, are they using Microsoft Outlook or a Chrome browser?

The safe bet is that shorter is better.

The safer bet is to extract your email subscriber data and figure out which are the most commonly used devices by your customers.

3. Use Email Segmentation To Increase Opening Rates

If you have a vast list of subscribers, chances are, you collected them via different content marketing sources. Even if you only collected their data via one website, it was likely they subscribed on different pages of the site.

For example, if you have a health site, you might have articles about vegan diets. And you may also have articles about carnivore diets.

By offering opt-in segments on your email subscriber form, you can categorize subscribers based on what interests them.

Vegans may not want to open a newsletter that has “steak” in the subject line. By eliminating those who are segmented as “vegans,” you decrease the likelihood that your subject line is passed over.

This can have the overall effect of increasing your email open rates.

Ex. of email segment from conversionxl.com

example email segmentation

4. Don’t Be a Liar

do not mislead your newsletter readers

Google is a data-driven beast, not just in their search algorithm, but also in their email algorithm.

If you throw up shady, clickbait, bogus, and deceitful email subject lines, your initial open rates may rise, but eventually, your emails will be cast into the spam folder.

Google collects complaint data from your subscribers. If you dupe your subscribers, they are sure to complain.

Google reads metrics such as how long a subscriber reads an email and if they click any of its internal links. If the data shows that your emails are backed out of without hesitation, you can rest assured future correspondence will end up in the spam folder.

Use accurate subject lines.

Sure, you want to make sure your subject line is enticing, and indeed, curiosity is a part of that play. However, your subject line can be both curious and enticing without being deceitful.

5. Timing is Critical For Email

The time you send your email can often matter more than most businesses know.

Unless you are in the news business and rely on breaking stories, you need to pay attention to when you send your emails.

So when is a good time?

Good email times to send are typically daytime hours.

You want to take advantage of an alert person who will likely get a new email notification. This isn’t likely to happen at 3 AM.

The best play here is to extract your subscribers’ location data and figure out what their waking hours are. Many email marketing service providers, such as MailChimp and AWeber, will allow you to mail based on the time zones of specific subscribers.

This way, all your subscribers get the email at 9 AM.

MailChimp marketing automation

6. Load Calls to Action First

Calls to action are essential in copywriting.

Loading the subject line with action-oriented verbs, in the beginning, can drastically benefit open and email click-through rates.

When it comes to offers, the discount price should always be front-loaded.

Remember, the subscriber will view email name which should be recognizable, so they have a good idea of what product(s) you are selling at discounted rates.

FLASH SALE: 50% Off all coats starts now


50% Off Flash Sale begins at noon (get in before merchandise is gone)

Both of those subject lines front load the core action/pertinence of the newsletter. When you put the main play, or the action, in the back, it may get truncated by mobile email providers or specific browsers on desktops.

Another example of Load Action First from blogs.constantcontact.com

increase open email rates with a call to action

7. A/B Split Testing – Which Email Subject Line Is Better?

I’d argue that all of what I’ve written is hugely influential to subject line opening rates.

That said, there is little that can deny the science of pure facts.

Every audience is different from the next.

Therefore every company should be looking over their own data to help decide what subject line styles are most effective.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to A/B or split testing subject lines.

In email services such as MailChimp and AWeber, you can take two different subject lines and A/B test them for success. You can then look to see which one gave you the better open rates.

MailChimp allows you to set up two subject lines, then send each to a smaller portion of your newsletter. When MailChimp compiles the data, it will release the most successful subject line to the remainder of your email list.

Here’s a quick example of how simple the process is inside of MailChimp.

After hitting “create a campaign,” simply choose A/B Test.

opening rates of emails with split testing

Next, you choose which email list you will send to and hit NEXT.

After that, you decide which variable(s) you’d like to test out. As you can see, you can test SUBJECT LINES (the point of this article), FROM NAME, CONTENT, and the SEND TIME.

subject line example email

Just a little extra effort could amount to an enormous increase in the rates your emails are opened.

Improved Subject Lines +  Higher Open Rates = ROI

Email subject line success is critical to a company’s ROI.

If your subject lines are poorly written, your email marketing campaigns will suffer from low open rates. Eventually, email service providers will penalize your mailers and welcome to the spam box.

Improving open rates is something that takes time and testing. It is not accomplished overnight.

But if you are a company that’s currently making little effort with your subject lines, the changes above will benefit your email strategy.