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7 Ways to Create the Most Sensational Email Subject Lines

Did you know that 33% of people will open an email purely because of the subject line? If you’re looking for success with email marketing, an inviting subject line mustn’t be ignored.

Here are 7 ways to use a title to increase your email’s effectiveness and make your brand stand out:


1 – Keep your character count short

The general rule with email titles is that they shouldn’t exceed 50 characters. In some situations, such as when you enjoy a highly specialised or personalised email list, you could get away with a 50+ title, but when it comes to titles it’s certainly a case of less is more.


In a study of 200m emails, MailChimp found that 28-39 characters had the highest click-through rates, while titles under 15 characters grabbed the most attention.


2 – Don’t be too spammy

Years ago, incorporating words such as ‘Free’, ‘% off’ and ‘Reminder’ into a title may have marked you out as spam to email providers and sent your message to the junk folder. However, although these words may trigger spam filters in extreme circumstances, they don’t have much of an effect in 2014. Nowadays it’s much more important to have good engagement metrics and a strong sender reputation in the eyes of email providers.


Therefore, if you’re a reputable sender that enjoys decent click-through rates with emails you’ll get away with using block capitals and so-called spammy words in your titles.


Whether your readers will react well to them is another matter. Which leads us to…


3 – Don’t sell

Likewise, people don’t want to be sold to – remember that the average consumer will receive maybe hundreds of emails every day. Don’t be pushy, just show them what’s happening in the email. The email specialists MailChimp say it best:


“When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”


Stop and think of all the discarded emails that lie unloved in your deleted folder – how many of them tried in vain to flog you their wares instead of actually targeting your needs?


4 – Don’t be afraid to be negative

If you’re looking for your customers to buy from you online, you need to establish yourself as a solution to whatever problems that they’re having. This is where a little negativity in a subject line can help your emails to succeed.


It worked for Obama. During the Presidential Election campaign of 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign team fired off hundreds of emails to supporters encouraging them to donate more money to the cause. The most successful titles by far (‘I will be outspent’ and ‘Some scary numbers’) earned nearly $5 million between them, while the most positive title in third place (‘If you believe in what we’re doing’) raised a ‘paltry’ $911k.


5 – Take your time

The perfect email title only consists of a few characters but that’s no reason to rush your title. After all, it needs to be perfect and if it takes hours for you to craft the most profitable title then that’s time well spent.


Stuck for inspiration? Write 20 different titles and decide your favourite.


6 – Think local

Studies show that putting your customers’ names into subject titles doesn’t necessarily increase click-through rates, but it does help if you’re including local information and using it in your title. For instance, letting a customer know of something of interest in their home city would increase engagement and improve click throughs.


7 – Use your data

If you’ve been sending emails, you’ll be privy to a huge range of data about your customers. Using this data you’ll be able to ascertain which emails are the most popular; which calls to action work best and what types of titles obtain the most clicks. Every client base is slightly different, so it’s absolutely essential to use the behaviour of your customers to inform your business decisions.

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