Write Click-Worthy Subject Lines
Scroll through the list of tips below or use this handy checklist to jump to a specific category of DIY email marketing tips:
- List Building and Opt-In/Out Tips (18)
- Ideas for Email Subject Lines(20)
- Tips for Content, Landing Pages and Images (30)
- How to Plan, Test, Segment and Track Emails (28)
- Improve Call-to-Actions (CTA), Transactions and Conversions(14)
- Mobile Friendly Email Marketing (5)
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—Monica Sims, senior marketing manager, iContact
Keep subject lines short and punchy, and make sure they clearly identify the email topic for your readers. No click bait!
—Justin Flitter, head of marketing, Results.com
We may not judge a book by its cover, but we most definitely judge an email by its subject line. A subject line must leave the reader wanting more. Try posing a question to your audience, and turn your email into an engaging conversation rather than a boring message. Experiment with creative subject lines and, through A/B testing, ultimately decide which subject line performs best.
—Linda Passante, CEO, The Halo Group
Avoid spammy subject lines. Email servers catch lines like Too GOOD to be True!, and send them to the spam folders. Plus, this type of language turns off modern consumers; they won’t even open the email. Keep the subject lines simple and to the point, but still leave enough mystery for the recipient to want to read more. For example: We're Excited About Our New Offer. This connects your company with subscribers and alerts them to an offer without being too over the top.
—Sacha Ferrandi, founder, Source Capital Funding
Create a short, enticing subject line between 45 and 50 characters. Check this subject line against a list of spam trigger words to make sure it doesn't go to the spam folder. Make sure your name or company name is in the "From" section—people often delete emails from an unknown sender. Finally, test variations of your email to see which performs best. For example, send the same email with a different subject line to two different groups of subscribers and see which one they open more. This will help your future email marketing strategies.
—Simon Slade, CEO and co-founder, SaleHoo
Subject lines can be tricky, especially when creating campaigns for cold leads. It’s all about spiking the readers’ interest enough to open your email. Try A/B testing a few different methods, like teasers, questions, and click-bait ("What you may not know about…"). Depending on your readers, different subject lines might illicit different responses, so try a variety to see what gets the best open rates. Keep your email copy and landing pages consistent with your subject lines to give your readers a cohesive user experience.
—Marci Hansen, CMO and co-founder, SheerID
Subject line trends—name personalization, for instance—first emerged a number of years ago. But once other brands caught on, the technique lost impact. My point is, stop coming up with so many variants and use the insight that's already out there. A tool like Touchstone looks at subject line data and trends in your industry and lets you test against them.
—Tink Taylor, founder and president, DotMailer
Avoid spammy headlines. Although it might be tempting to use attention-drawing headlines with hooks like CRITICAL TIP and You won't believe this!, these tactics usually result in much lower open rates than simple, to-the-point headlines that clearly and succinctly describe the contents of your email. People receive so much spam that they tend to automatically filter out click-bait headlines. Normal subjects designed to be helpful generally work best.
—Andrew Reeves, founder and CEO, Luxe Translation Services
People open emails with short subject lines that drive urgency (Last Chance, Ends Tonight, etc). We see up to 8 percent higher open rates than average. Success in driving revenue depends on the offer contained in the email.
—Sean Hay, director of retention, Readers.com
Take time to create a really solid subject line. Give your readers a reason to open the email by telling them what they can get from it, such as 3 Ways to ___, or Top Tips for Spring.
—Emily Sidley, senior director of publicity, Three Girls Media
Write multiple subject lines and then pick the best. Without a good subject line, recipients won't bother to read the rest.
—Hans E. Hageman, creative marketing consultant and strategist, HansHageman.com
A good subject line should be engaging, short, and ultimately make sense to your target audience. Let's break it down a little further. Read your own inbox and see which messages you click on; can you apply or mimic some of those for your own business? Instilling a sense of urgency (limited time offer, what recipients "need to know" right now, etc.) increases the odds that recipients will actually open it.
—Courtney Rauch, marketing account manager, CMK Marketing
Tailor the language, especially in the subject line, specifically to your target market. Don't use language that your audience wouldn't use on a regular basis. For example, an email for millennials that enjoy fashion may respond well to the words 'sexy or lavish' in a subject line. However, most people in the construction industry would probably not enjoy an email titled Sexy Offer for Power Tools.
—Samuel Wheeler, digital public relations specialist, Inseev Interactive
Your perfectly-worded header or your most compelling offer won’t matter if your message hits the spam folder instead of the inbox. Increasingly, the big mail clients (Gmail, Yahoo, MSN) want your emails to pass DKIM and SPF validation. Adding these additional validations will help boost your delivery-, open-, and click-thru rates.
—Mike Catania, CTO, PromotionCode
First impressions are everything. You compete for readers' attention every day, and email inbox competition can be stiff. When the subject line is the afterthought to an email campaign, your email will probably get buried. There's a big chance the reader won't even bother opening the email to look at the content you spent most of your time perfecting.
—Alli Williams, public relations coordinator, Amplify Relations
Make your subject line as casual as possible without being unprofessional. Don't capitalize every word, use emoticons, use simpler language. Ask questions or entice your reader by teasing about what's inside. Consider this: an email inbox is a personal space and people want to feel comfortable there, even if it's at work. Informality is a relief, so make your subject line as approachable as possible.
—Natalie Edwards, marketing director, Sfbi
While it’s important to test which subject lines do and don’t work, testing can be an easy out for marketers: “What shall we put as our subject line?” … “I don’t know, let’s run a test.” Marketers should look to proven subject lines—like Free delivery—for inspiration and test those.
—Tink Taylor, founder and president, Dotmailer.com
You can have the most beautifully designed email, but if your subject line doesn't entice the recipient to open, your work is wasted. Think of email subject lines like newspaper or magazine headlines. They're short, impactful statements that use emotionally charged words. Most consumers open email on mobile devices, and subject lines are often truncated due to screen size or other space restrictions so avoid being too lengthy.
—Randy Mitchelson, vice president sales and marketing, iPartnerMedia
The subject line is the first thing your subscribers see, and it needs to be compelling enough to persuade them to open your email. Keep your subject line short (ideally less than 50 characters) and present limited time offers to increase open rates.
—Seamas Egan, associate director of revenue operations, Campaigner
Subject lines work best when they spark curiosity or are tailored to the recipient. Subject lines like Landscaping tips June 2016 are the worst. Instead, try something like 3 ways to perk up your garden with June plantings.
—Travis Pearl, co-founder, ExpertMatches