When the world shut down last year, email quickly became a hot channel for brands to communicate directly with consumers. Messages began flooding inboxes with information on store openings, closings, and safety measures put in place.
Automatic trigger messages shared purchase information, as well as shipping and delivery notifications. And all of it meant standing out in the inbox became the No. 1 priority for every business.
So, to help you continue to grow your email channel, I wanted to dive deep into a topic I nerd out on every day: writing email subject lines.
The most important part of your email
Not only does your email subject line introduce the topic of your email, but it has the power to grab attention from anywhere in the inbox.
Subject lines are what get people through the metaphorical door. Invite them in with a good pun or eye-catching offer, and you’re one click closer to conversion.
Every email deserves a well-put-together subject line. Even transactional messages and abandoned cart triggers. But especially 1:1 communications that are as cold as ice frozen to my car door.
Cold B2B emails from a sales representative may be a priority for your business growth. But if you’re not putting in the time to craft a hook in the subject line, you may as well consider your emails immediately marked as junk.
Let’s delve into what it means to write good subject lines.
Tips, tactics & testing
1. A few tips to consider
My biggest piece of advice is to write your subject line first. Get a few ideas written down, and then move into the body of your email. Get the creative juices flowing first, and then start editing.
If you’re writing a branded email, you should then consider the preview text or preheader copy. It’s the copy teasing what’s in your email that shows up under your subject line in your inbox. It can also be displayed at the top of your email (when it’s opened), above the header.
Next comes the header copy. Play around with your subject line, preview text, and header copy. You may find that as you’re writing each line, you want to switch them around. Sometimes, you find a better subject line that way.
2. Writing tactics to try
Whether you’re writing an informational or personal email, you should try a few writing tactics to see which subject line will engage your audience best. Consider the urgency of your message and the curiosity of your audience. Are you telling them something important and relevant to them?
Know which offers you’re sharing with your audience and consider which ones will fit best with each audience. Add in a touch of personalization—use first names in a greeting to capture attention. Or tease a story about your company, product, service, or successful case study.
Keep your emails subject lines short and sweet. Hit the key point you wish to convey and get rid of the extra fluff. Time your email sends right and use action-oriented verbs or try a punny play on words.
Don’t use all caps, unless your brand is shouting from the rooftops. And don’t overuse exclamation points—my advice is to only use an exclamation point when necessary to convey true excitement, like a 30% sale on my favorite workout gear!
Finally, test your subject lines. Using your previous email engagement data can only indicate the types of subject lines your audience has engaged with in the past. But you don’t fully know if an out-of-left-field subject line won’t work unless you test it out.
3. Testing your email subject lines
The easiest way to know if your subject line will land well is to test it. Use an A/B or multivariate testing campaign to send emails with two or more subject lines and compare the results.
Testing in this way allows you to understand what your email subscribers like best in your subject lines. Is it the callout to learn about your newest product, or is it the music lyrics you used to tease your brand’s new look and feel?
Duplicate your email a few times and swap out only the subject line to test your versions.
Bonus subject-line tips
Because we all love a few additional tips at the end of a helpful blog.
Use emojis carefully
While emojis are quickly becoming a common way to communicate feelings with each other, it may not be the best option for your brand. Or you may need to limit it to one or two at most.
Test out emojis and see if your audience responds. And make sure to use emojipedia.org to ensure your emojis show up across all devices.
Break the rules
It had to be said. Writing email subject lines doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Find what works for you and your brand.
Every company is different, and customers will respond differently to one brand versus another. That’s why testing is vital to your process.
The tips and tactics I’ve shared here are simply guidelines to use as you figure out the best way to engage your audience. So, feel free to use these at first. Then try something new. But I still recommend limiting the use exclamation points at the very least.
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