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How to Put Together an Effective Email Subject Line (and Examples)

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First impressions matter, and yes, love at first sight does exist. Your subject line serves as the initial interaction customers have with your email – yet for a lot of marketers and copywriters, it’s still only an afterthought. While we agree that the email itself is the star of the show, that doesn’t matter if people don’t make it past the subject line. 

Make no mistake; your subject line is the most important element in your email campaigns. But you don’t have to take our word for it. 

Harsh reality – your perfectly curated, carefully designed, and strategically written email is worth nothing if it ends up in a spam folder.

To make things easier, we’ve taken our favorite subject line tips and listed them below. They’ve worked for us, and they’ll work for you too:

1. Keep it Short

Reminder, a majority of people are now reading emails on a mobile screen. So make the experience easy for them by keeping the subject short and to the point. Yes, you can absolutely be creative – but avoid being complex, or you’ll drive people away.

If half of your subject line gets cut off, you risk creating the wrong impression and distorting the meaning. We recommend keeping within 50 characters, though you actually have about 75 characters to play around with (and you thought Twitter was hard). 

2. Personalize

Personalizing isn’t only about including the names of your recipients. Get creative with your subject lines using other tactics – like retargeting data to pique a prospects’ interest. Segment your email list to create subject lines that have specific information which will strike a chord with your subscribers. Send birthday emails and special offers, or use geographical tags to make your emails relevant on an individual level. 

  • Exempel: Today’s your birthday. And here’s a treat from us.  

3. Insert a Popular Brand for Mega-Targeting

Make no mistake, brand names in subject lines work. The best part? You can create ultra-targeted email campaigns based on what your recipients bought in the past. For instance, if you’re having a sale on shoes and you have three different brands on sale, you can segment your email list based on which customers have bought what. If one part of your list has purchased Kenneth Cole shoes in the past, your subject line for this group should feature the words “Kenneth Cole.” This gives your customer the opportunity to stick with the brand they like best.

  • Exempel: These Kenneth Cole loafers have your name on them.

4. Use Emojis

More and more people are using emojis to express themselves. Keep in mind not all subject lines will be fit for emoji use. If your message can be paired with emojis, your audience might be able to relate better to your email, resulting in more opens.

Avoid replacing words with emojis. Instead, use them to compliment your text in case your chosen character doesn’t display in your recipient’s inbox.

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4. Don’t Be Spammy

There are two hurdles your subject line needs to cross – spam filters and busy customers who don’t want to receive marketing emails. Coming across as pushy, loud, or overbearing can easily put people off and can even make them mark you as spam.

But there are also other ways of falling into the spammer category. Promising something in your subject line that you don’t deliver in your email, for example. Or, having a subject line that’s completely unrelated to your email. Broken links, using spam trigger words, outrageous offers, spam-like design, and bad UX/UI are some other red flags to watch out for and avoid.  

5. Use Customer Faves to Sate Curiosity

Most human beings are at least curious about what other people are buying. If a product has a huge audience and gets tons of good marks from customers, most likely, your recipient will be more inclined to buy it. For this reason, we believe that a “customer favorite” product featured in a subject line is an easy sell.

  • Exempel: They’ve sold out three times, but they’re back. 

6. Test

The Midas touch of email marketing. A/B-testning your subject lines will give you real-world insight into whether or not your emails are working. Send out only two versions at a time so you can compare – and don’t forget to record your learnings for future campaigns.

  • Test 1: You don’t want to miss this sale. 
  • Test 2: All our t-shirts are 50% off. 

7. Ask a Question

Asking a question is a subject line technique that works well because it gives the customer something to think about. Your question should be something on almost every customer’s mind. Even if you answer the question in your subject line, recipients will be inclined to open your email to learn more. 

  • Exempel: Need a cool backpack for Fall? We’ve got ’em.

8. Make It a List

A list is an easy way to offer something of value, sell a product or service, and not seem too obvious about it. A list gives a customer a subconscious message that your email is organized in a way that makes it an easy read. They’ll be more compelled to open your email if they know ahead of time that they’ll not be facing a wall of text. Add products or services to this list, and you’ll not only get them interested in opening your email, but you can showcase various products at the same time. Here are some good examples:

  • Exempel: 10 products to take with you on vacation. 

There are so many more types of subject lines that you can explore with your campaigns. Collect data over time to see how best you can use this prime real estate to stand out in your customers’ inboxes – and minds.

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What Not to do in Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your audience. You can build a relationship with them and create loyal customers. It is also a great way to generate traffic to your website, increase leads, and execute large campaigns.

With all of the benefits that your company can gain from email marketing, it’s no wonder that 64% of small businesses engage in email marketing. However, there are still a few important things to keep in mind. In order to be successful, you should avoid these 4 mistakes explained by 97 Switch when preparing an email marketing campaign.

Talk About Yourself

Many companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. They assume that since their audience signed up for emails, they want to hear all about the company and the sales. While marketing your products or services is important to do sometimes, your audience is still looking for value.

Failing to foster a relationship with them by being too sales-y will lead to unsubscribers and a loss of potential customers.

Instead, it’s important to give the audience something in return for their loyalty. Exclusive deals and sales codes are appreciated, but they also want to see educational or entertaining content in their inbox.

One way to do this is by creating content such as “you asked, we delivered” or “your questions answered” to show that you care about your customers and the feedback they give you, and it builds trust.

It’s also important to speak your audience’s language. Sometimes, companies get too caught up in trying to sound professional and impressive and end up using jargon that’s hard to understand.

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Using more simple ways to get your message across is imperative, as it makes the email easier to consume and thus more valuable.

Email Without a Purpose

While building relationships with your customers is one of the main goals of email marketing, you should keep in mind that they don’t want to hear from your company just for the sake of connecting.

Ensure that you have a clear purpose for each email you send, whether that be to inform, entertain, or motivate.

Being intentional about when to reach out includes sending timely emails. You should respond to relevant industry, company, or world news in a timely manner. Readers would find you reminding them about the last day of a sale important, and that qualifies as a purposeful email.

Part of proceeding with a clear purpose is also including a call to action in your emails. Your readers want to know exactly what you’re asking of them, and making it simple is the best way to get it. Beware of including too many calls to action, as it can be more confusing and seem more selfish than helpful.

Over Generalize

Personalization is one of the greatest strengths of email marketing, yet it is often overlooked. Simply including first names in an email makes it sound more personal and builds stronger relationships. This can easily be achieved using an email scheduling tool such as Mailchimp. Again, this is a way to build customer relationships. Research shows that using someone’s name in the subject line increases open rates by 26%. Be that as it may, personalization is more than just plugging in names.

Using an email marketing tool is also an easy way to utilize the segmentation aspect of personalization. By separating your audience into groups, you can categorize what they would each be most interested to hear from you.

It has been shown that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns. An example of this is categorizing your readers as beginners, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your industry. Based on this category, you can send each segment a different email that would pertain to them more specifically.

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Your readers will appreciate that your content is tailored to their needs. Imagine sending a beginner an email that skips over the basics of a process. They would be confused and find it very unhelpful.

Now imagine an expert who is wasting time reading the basics that they know by heart. They would become frustrated and lose interest in finishing the email. These are just two examples of using segmentation to better serve your audience.

Use Poor Subject Lines

Often, people will decide whether to open an email at all based on the subject line alone. A mistake that marketers tend to make is wording the subject in a way that sounds like spam, and thus never gets opened or reaches the audience.

As we mentioned before, it is also helpful to include someone’s name in the subject line. While it might seem like a shot in the dark to form an effective subject, there are a few tips for the best open rates you can achieve.

A good subject line should be short. The ideal length for a subject is 7 words, based on a study conducted by Marketo.

However, you also want to make it interesting so that people are curious and want to know more. This curiosity is enough to encourage people to read the email.

However, you want to avoid click-baiting your readers with interesting subject lines that have nothing to do with the content in the email. Make sure that your subject is also relevant to what you have to say. Otherwise, you will have the opposite effect you’d intended by destroying trust and losing credibility.

Being Inconsistent

Simply sending out random emails is not enough to see results. You have to stick to a schedule that your readers can count on and know when to expect to hear from you in their inbox.

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The frequency can vary based on your industry and from business to business, but emailing at least once a month is recommended. The more you email, the more you will be on the top of potential customers’ minds when they need what you offer.

That being said, you shouldn’t always assume more contact is better. If your company emails are flooding their inbox, you can bet that they will either block the sender or unsubscribe from future emails. Finding a balance is key to seeing the best results from your campaigns.

You should also consider the brand voice that you are using to speak to your customers. If your emails all sound like they were written by different people, then it’s hard to gain the brand-strengthening benefits of email marketing. It is also confusing to your audience and makes it harder for them to connect with the company.

A good way to remedy this is to create a company persona, where you give a personality to the company that is sending the emails.

Are you funny and witty, or are you serious and somber? Consider strengthening your branding within the company before communicating it with the world.

Viktiga takeaways

You can’t expect to be perfect at email marketing, so don’t get discouraged if you find that you have made these mistakes. There is always room for improvements, and every so often it’s a good idea to evaluate how your email marketing campaigns are going.

Using analytics to track your results and adjusting your strategy will help you grow as you fix any mistakes you might be making.

By taking the time to improve your strategy, you will see the success that can carry across all your marketing efforts.

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