10 Tips to Improve Subject Lines

10 tips to improve subject linesYou slave away perfecting your email newsletter, but subject lines are often an afterthought. Yet, they are arguably one of the most important pieces of writing you can do, because if the subject line doesn’t intrigue readers to open your message, they’re not going to see the glory within (or be able to act on your calls to action).

Here are some of our favorite tips for improving your subject lines:

1. Unsure what approach will grab your readers? Test! A split test will immediately show you which approach renders better open rates. Keep testing and learning and your response rates will continue to improve.

2. Analyze your past campaigns to discover which keywords drive the best responses.

3. Put those powerful keywords at the beginning of the subject line. With the proliferation of mobile devices, the number of characters shown in the subject line varies widely, and where the message truncates can be darn awkward. Check out some common pitfalls to avoid.

4. You’ve heard it before… keep subject lines as short as possible. But don’t skimp on your message just to stay within a character count. More info on subject line length can be found here.

5. Include a clear indication of the newsletter’s contents – and make it interesting enough that they want to read it NOW. Otherwise, you get buried under the pile of incoming mail, never to be opened. Note: If your company sends multiple newsletters, be sure to identify them in the subject line. That way, the reader instantly knows if they are getting their Weekly Healthy Recipes or their Monthly Diet Tips.

6. Pique readers’ interest with a provocative question, a looming deadline or an emotional hook.  These techniques are used frequently in advertising because they get attention. Just be sure not to over-use one approach, or subscribers will quickly start to tune you out.

7. Consider adding the recipient’s name to the subject line. This great article discusses the pros and cons.

8. Make sure your subject line has the right tone and voice to match your brand. Are you whimsical, serious or opinionated? Your subject lines can be, too.

9. Adding your company name to the subject line can improve recognition, but doing so comes at the expense of space – so short names have an advantage. If you add it, consider setting the brand name off with punctuation to allow people to focus on the content of the message more quickly. Subject line example: [Sherpa Weekly] Lift conversions 10%; 5 steps for web leads. Learn more here.

10. Don’t act or look like SPAM!  The CAN-SPAM Act forbids subject lines that are

“…likely to mislead a recipient, acting reasonably under the circumstances, about a material fact regarding the contents or subject matter of the message…”.

Even if you are not trying to mislead readers, be aware that certain words can trigger spam filters, which prevent your message from reaching their recipients. Lists of “bad” words keep changing, but as a rule, avoid writing in all capitals, over-hyping your offers, using excessive exclamation marks, or creative misspellings of words.

Many thanks to Email Marketing Reports for many of these points and the supporting articles we link to. The OpenMoves team is always on hand to help you make the most of your subject lines. Contact us for personalized recommendations.

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