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Tips to get your email subject lines right

Include Localization Personalize a message with a recipient's first or last name to improve open rates. MailChimp research suggests including a city name is even better.

Use Different Subject Lines

Newsletters tend to start with high open rates, but these decrease over time. Keep your content fresh, and don’t repeat the same subject line for each campaign. If subscribers can’t tell something about your content from the subject line, they probably won’t open your campaign.

 

Keep Subject Lines Short

Most people quickly scan subject lines to decide if they’ll open or ignore the email, so don’t expect subscribers to dig through your subject line to figure out if they’re interested. Keep your subject line to 50 characters or fewer.

 

Use Promotional Emails Effectively

There are a few ways to increase subscriber engagement with promotional emails. Promote contests and giveaways in your campaigns to reconnect with inactive subscribers. Send subscribers a poll or survey to find out what type of content they’re interested in. Offer a free gift or service as an incentive to complete the poll or survey.

 

Customize Subject Lines

Our emoji picker and merge tags allow you to create a subject line that is fun and personalized.

 

Merge Tags

Use merge tags to personalize the subject line with content that is unique to your subscribers. For example, if you have a field in your list for the city where your subscribers live, use the city merge tag in the subject line and we’ll replace it with each subscriber’s city when the campaign is sent.

 

Test Subject Lines if you can

MailChimp offers tools to help you write and test effective subject lines. Our Subject Line Researcher uses our extensive collection of subject line data to help you write a subject line, and A/B Testing Campaigns test the performance of up to three different subject lines.

 

Create an A/B Testing Campaign

Unlike the Subject Line Research tool, which tests your subject line against all subscribers on MailChimp lists, A/B Testing Campaigns test your actual subscribers to see what they like best.

A/B Testing Campaigns create up to three versions of your campaign to test how a small difference impacts campaign performance. Send two or three versions of your campaign with different subject lines to randomly selected parts of your list, and we’ll automatically send the campaign with the best open rate to the remainder of your list.

 

Other Factors that Affect Open Rates

It’s not just your subject line that affects your open rates. The sender and nature of your content can also impact your results. Here are some things to consider when you create your campaign.

 

Maintain Your Subscribers' Interest

The success of your campaign depends on how well you maintain the interest of your subscribers over time. Create content, including subject lines, that engages your subscribers and meets their expectations.

 

Consider the From Name

The from name can be as important as the subject line, because subscribers won’t open emails from people they don’t recognize. Use the from name to say who you are as the sender, and keep it consistent over time.

 

Use Groups and Segments for Your List

Target subscribers with groups and segments so they get information that’s relevant to them. If your subscriber data indicates that someone is interested in vegetarian recipes, they probably won’t open an email with a subject line about the 10 best meat recipes. If subscribers provide information to help target your messages, use it.

Enticing your audience to engage with your marketing content is a common struggle, especially when it comes to email marketing. After all, an email is only as good as its subject line. With fewer than five seconds to convince a recipient to open an email instead of delete it, you need to give your email’s subject line an edge.

The goal of the subject line is to get someone to open your email. No more, no less – if your email doesn’t get opened, it’s impossible to click on anything inside the email. To boost your email open rates, here are five sure-fire ways to make your email subject lines absolutely irresistible.

 

Cleverness vs. Clarity

Many times, marketing and brand recognition is about standing out, being memorable and coming up with something catchy. However, the subject line of an email isn’t the time to practice this. Email recipients want to know what they can expect when they click on the message. They don’t want unwanted surprises, aren’t seeking entertainment and don’t want their time wasted. Therefore, they look to the subject line to determine if the message is worthwhile.

A 2011 case study conducted by AWeber Communications found that a clear subject line gets 541% more clicks than one that’s clever. That’s right. Just by ensuring that the recipient clearly understands the contents of the email, you can get more than 5 times the number of prospective customers to open it. Think about how this would translate into business results for your company.

The reason for this huge increase in open rates? People don’t want to try to figure out what you’re talking about. You simply cannot leave room for ambiguity. Remember, the goal is to tell, not sell.

The following are some examples of clever and clear email subject lines:

Clever

  • It’s finally here!
  • Great gifts for your site
  • ABC Associates’ Always Awesome Amber Adams - with Amber Adams being the name of the customer. In this case we just added to the alliteration!

Clear

  • 10 new fonts for your marketing campaigns
  • 15% of social media reviews will be fake by 2014 [Gartner Study]
  • 3 ideas to improve email results from a panel of experts

Clear subject lines give email recipients a good idea about what the message contains.

 

Words to Always Omit

The only thing that’s worse than having your message sent to the “Trash” folder by a recipient is to not even have it make the inbox. There are a handful of words that will send your email directly into a SPAM folder. These words include:

  • Percent off
  • Reminder
  • Help
  • Buy
  • Clearance
  • Earn $
  • Make $
  • Earn
  • From home
  • Biz
  • Cash
  • Claim
  • Collect
  • Income
  • Get out of
  • Increase your
  • Prescriptions
  • Free
  • Millions
  • Urgent
  • Dear

 

Length Guidelines

While it’s important to make your subject line clear, it’s also helpful to keep them short. Aim for 50 characters or less. Making the subject line longer runs the risk of having the end get cut off, especially if a recipient is using a mobile device to check email.

 

Create a Sense of Urgency

Another effective technique for increasing your email open rates is to create a sense of urgency. You need to make the recipients feel they absolutely must open your email this very second. Entice them. Excite them. Thrill them.

Examples of this type of email subject line are as follows:

  • Buy One Shirt and We’ll Give You Two More - Today Only
  • Double Your Savings - If You Purchase by Midnight Tonight
  • 3 Tips for Doubling Your Holiday Sales - If You Start Now

 

Make It Personal

We are all battling information overload. One the fastest ways we filter out marketing messages is by discarding communications that feel generic and canned. Personalizing your subject line is an effective method for increasing your open rates, and it can be as simple as using the word "you."

If you are distributing your email to a specific audience segment, organization, or group of buyers, try naming them in your subject line—something along the lines of, "Email Marketers - Learn How to Double Your Open Rates." This clearly confirms in the recipient’s mind (someone who is a self-identifying email marketer) that he or she is the right person for your email and is qualified to gain value from it.

 

The Bottom Line

One of the best rules of thumb to use when sending emails as part of a digital marketing strategy is to put yourself in the shoes of your recipients. Consider which types of subject lines would turn you away, and avoid using them. Make it your goal to engage your recipients with clear subject lines that communicate that the valuable information they seek is a mere click away.