Best practices for improved subject line open rates.

Subject Lines That Will Make Your Open Rates Sing

These subject line best practices will improve your open rates and deliverability — and get you on the right path toward email marketing success.
Article Outline

While email continues to be an effective marketing tactic to capture, nurture, and convert leads, your success depends on your ability to craft a message that lands in the inbox and engages your customers. So while many organizations boast huge contact lists, they’re of very little use if you can’t use them to capture your audience’s attention and nurture them through the sales funnel.

If you want your audience to start navigating the customer journey, the first thing you need to do is motivate them to open and read your emails, which is where a good subject line comes into play. It might seem ridiculous to focus on such a small detail of our email content, but paying close attention to your subject lines can improve inbox placement, open rates, and conversions.

A catchy, compelling subject line is only the first step toward helping your audience embark on a path toward discovering more about your brand, but it’s a very important one. So, if fueling your demand generation efforts is the goal, then following best practices will help you make sure your recipients notice and click on your next email so you can start seeing better results. 

Personalization Gets Better Results

The days of sending the same email to broad contact lists are over. While casting a wide net to improve your chances of catching the attention of your audience might seem like a good idea, it can actually lead to poor engagement and an uptick in spam complaints. In reality, the key to reaching your audience is to get as targeted and personal as possible with your messaging.  

Practicing segmentation allows you to get more specific and personal with your subject lines. Grouping customers based on their interests and where they are in the sales funnel enables you to develop subject lines that are relevant and inspire engagement. This might seem like a serious and time-consuming undertaking if you’re performing this task manually, but you can easily automate this process with Act-On so that your lists stay up to date as you learn more about your prospects.  

Be Clear About Why Recipients Should Open an Email

With the increasing amount of spam and irrelevant messages cluttering our inboxes, recipients are more reluctant than ever about opening emails. The key to gaining your customers’ trust and interest is to be as detailed as possible about what to expect when they open your email.

Failing to be specific can be construed as an attempt to mislead recipients to drive more opens, which is a bad practice for both email engagement and deliverability. If you aren’t delivering on your promises in the content of your emails, your readers will develop a negative image of your brand, mark your messages as spam, and unsubscribe. You want to avoid these scenarios because they can lead to a bad reputation and drive down engagement and conversions.

Create a Sense of Urgency (and Be Specific)

One of the best ways to motivate your recipients to action is by drafting a subject line that indicates that quick or immediate action is needed. Including a deadline or specific dates for an event or offer indicates to customers that it’s best to open your email sooner rather than later, especially if they don’t want to miss out on a special deal.

One thing to note is that urgency only works if you are specific. Making your subject line “Hurry Up to Save on Shoes!” probably doesn’t deliver the same sense of urgency as “Hurry! Only 24 Hours Left to Enjoy 30% Off Shoes!” The latter will make interested recipients want to open the email and start browsing, while the former might make them think that they can probably wait until they receive another email reminder in the next few days. 

Use Proper Grammar and Correct Capitalization

Emails are all about making a good first impression, which is why paying attention to grammar and capitalization is crucial. Avoid using all caps or lowercase letters, and make sure there aren’t any glaring typos in your subject line before clicking “Send.”

Avoid Emojis in Your Email Subject Line

While emojis are a great way to get your message across via social media or text, they are best kept out of email subject lines. Not only can they set off spam filters, but they can be interpreted differently than you intend based on who your recipients are. Only use emojis if the situation seems absolutely appropriate, they make up a small portion of your complete subject line, and you know the audience you’re targeting will completely understand the meaning. 

Never Use Confidential Information!

While personalizing your subject line and email content can lead to better engagement and make your open rates skyrocket, there is certain information that is off limits. Making reference to things such as your recipient’s medical condition, annual income, and any other personal details they would not want to be made public should not be mentioned in your email content. Including confidential information in your subject lines could lead your audience to question your integrity and motivate them to unsubscribe or even file a complaint.

Don’t Forget to A/B Test Your Efforts for Continous Optimization

Even if you follow all the best practices outlined above, there are always going to be certain subject lines that appeal more to your audience and generate better results. Thankfully, A/B testing can help remove the guesswork and easily pinpoint which phrases are a hit with your audience and which ones are not.

For best results, we suggest testing two subject lines for each email you send. Once the results are in and you have a winning subject line, you’ll have a better idea of which subject line elements resonate best with your audience. Use these insights to continuously improve and optimize your email marketing efforts and determine the perfect formula for email subject line success.

If you’re interested in learning more about how subject lines can improve email engagement, reputation, and deliverability, please download the eBook below. 

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