Email is one of the most intimate ways you can connect with your customers.


Think about it:

Your message lands in their sacred inboxes rather than levitating on a social media feed waiting for someone to scroll past it.

Email is also one of the most direct digital marketing techniques that helps you create connections with potential buyers and nurture relationships. But, to do that, your recipients actually need to open your emails – otherwise that message you’ve lovingly crafted will forever go unseen.

This is where the problem lies.

The average email subscriber gets 416 messages from brands every month, so standing out becomes an uphill battle. But when you learn that 33% of email recipients will open an email solely based on the subject line, you have something to work with.

We’ve put together some of the most successful email subject line strategies for you to implement to get more opens, more reads, and more sales.

How to Write a Catchy, Clickable Subject Line

  1. Keep It Simple

The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) analogy is well worth repeating for email subject lines. In fact, research has shown that subject lines with fewer than 10 characters get a 58% open rate.

Now, that might seem on the short side – how can you possibly get across everything you want to say with just 10 letters? – but we have to remember that consumer attention spans are getting shorter by the day.

People want to know what to expect right away and by providing a short and sweet subject line, you’re giving yourself the push you need to stand out in their inbox.

Examples of Keeping it Simple in Subject Lines:

  • “But why?”
  • “You ready?”
  • “Now it’s official”
  1. Personalize It

Consumers today crave personal connections with brands; they want to feel special and like they have a relationship with the businesses they buy from.

Thankfully, personalization helps you do this. In fact, you might go so far as to say that personalization is absolutely crucial for email marketing because personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.

Why is this?

It’s because people love hearing (or seeing) their own names. We’re automatically drawn to our name if it’s written in a big wad of text, helping your subject line to stand out in a packed inbox.

But personalization doesn’t just mean using the recipients name. You can get creative with it and:

  • Use transaction data to offer recipients personalized product recommendations or pick out a key phrase relating to a recent purchase they’ve made
  • Drop into their inbox on special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries
  • Throw in geo-centric words relating to the recipient’s city or location

Examples of Personalizing Subject Lines:

  • “Lizzie, you missed it”
  • “Discover the best bites in Chicago”
  • “Don’t forget to download your free cheats guide to social media”
  1. Make It Exclusive

People love to feel special.

Feeling like we’re part of a community, tribe, or group never gets old, and turning your subject lines into private invites or exclusive offers will have people clicking through in no time at all so they don’t get FOMO (that’s Fear of Missing Out, if you didn’t know).

While you want to make your recipients feel special every once in a while, you don’t want to go overboard and make every subject line something exclusive because it quickly becomes the exact opposite of exclusive.

Examples of Exclusivity in Subject Lines:

  • “Get my free gift that’s especially for you”
  • “We created this discount just for you”
  • “Grab your exclusive access to the course today”
  1. Keep It Urgent

We’re currently in the era of now, now, now.

People want things immediately and they aren’t willing to wait around, which is why urgency works so well in email subject lines.

But, like with the exclusivity strategy, you want to cherry pick the best times to do this otherwise your recipients will start to doubt whether the urgency is authentic.

Examples of Keeping it Urgent in Subject Lines:

  • “Limited spots available in our upcoming webinar”
  • “Get 20% off if you buy before tomorrow”
  • “Only 4 days left of our big summer sale”
  1. Number It

People love numbers; they give us information quickly and, when inserted into an email subject line, tell us that the text inside is going to be easy to scan and easy to digest.

Research has shown that putting numbers in a subject line piques a recipient’s curiosity and, just like with blog post titles, it can increase click through rates by over 200%.

Examples of Numbering Email Subject Lines:

  • “8 best pumpkin recipes for Halloween”
  • “Find out what 500 people thought about our latest show”
  • “What we learned spending $6,000,000 on Black Friday ads”

Your Email Subject Lines Are the Gateway to Your Customers

Despite all the new and fancy digital marketing tactics, email is still one of the best ways to reach your audience and build connections. In fact, it is the technique that reaps the most ROI, so it’s well worth trying it out.

But, in order for your campaigns to work as well as you hope, you need to pass the first hurdle of getting your recipients to actually open your emails.

By using strategies like numbering subject lines, using personalization, and injecting a sense of urgency, you’re increasing your chances of people clicking through and reading your lovingly crafted messages.

Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services for Elevation Marketing. @elevationb2b

Email subject stock photo by rzoze19/Shutterstock

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