What makes a good email subject line?
Before we get to our tips, let's go over some fundamentals of what makes a great subject line. Regardless of your goals, these are the essential elements that your subject line should possess:
Creating a sense of urgency is an efficient way to get people to take action. You can create a similar effect in your subject lines strategically.
By communicating a known start and end date to a special sale or promotion, viewers scrolling through their inbox will click to see what they can get in that window of time. This is also a good practice when done in a small series of emails counting down the window of opportunity — as long as you’re not flooding their inbox and coming off spammy.
Sometimes, subject lines work because of their ability to send the message, "You will benefit from opening this email." But other times, it's good to maintain some sense of mystery — especially if it pique's the recipient's natural curiosity and interest. Because they require opening the email to get more information, they can result in, well, a higher open rate. But make sure the subject line, while enigmatic, still aligns with your brand. Too obscure, and it could end up being seen as spam.
Here's where that benefit of opening a given email comes in. At the end of the day, people love new things and experiences — especially when they’re free, or at least discounted. Open with that by including it in your subject line. Personally, I'm much more inclined to open my daily newsletters when there's an offer or allusion for "free stuff" directly mentioned in my inbox.
No two email subscribers are the same — and, sometimes, that means the emails you send to them shouldn't be, either. At this point, marketers have never had more ways to learn about their subscribers' preferences, jobs, or general (dis)likes. So when you send them content, on occasion, make it catered toward the individual.
5. Relevance and Timeliness
When we subscribe to an email list, it's usually because we want to be kept informed, or at least learn more about a given topic (more on that later). Similar to piquing your audience's curiosity, crafting email subject lines that incorporate trending topics or timely headlines can help you establish your brand as an authority within your industry — and can compel people to click to read.
6. Name Recognition
Let's face it: We all have famous people who, at some point, we presently or previously have admired. And when you understand your audience's preferences and interests, you can pique their interest by including the names of these admired, recognizable individuals by including them in your content — and mentioning them in your email subject lines. But take heed: This tactic really only works when it aligns with your brand, product, or service. So keep it relevant, rather than just throwing out a name for the sake of recognition.
7. Cool Stories
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here's another place where curiosity comes into play. By front-loading your email subject line with a compelling allusion to a story — but can only be read if opened or clicked — your audience is likely to become intrigued, and want to learn more. Again, make sure the story is relevant to your brand. Otherwise, it might just confuse your readers and prevent them from opening the email.
Now that you know the fundamentals, let’s dive into email subject line best practices.