The Secret to Writing Effective Email Subject Lines

The Secret to Writing Effective Email Subject Lines

Reading time: 3 mins

At times it feels like your email marketing campaign is only as good as your email subject lines. Obviously, a good subject line isn’t the only success factor, but it’s the first one your audience sees. A person with a bad handshake isn’t a failure in other ways, but a handshake (like a subject line) matters for a first impression.

Part of any email marketing strategy is building effective email subject lines – and there’s a lot to consider. Here are just a few ways you can boost your first impression with high performing subject lines.


Get personal

Personalization is proving to increase email campaign metrics, such as open rates, by an average of 10 – 14%. That means by simply addressing your reader, or tailoring content for their preferences, you can increase the effectiveness of a campaign substantially. Most email programs allow you to use merge tags to include a personalization in your subject line. For example, “[FIRSTNAME], is [COMPANY NAME] losing leads?” How’s that for an attention grabber among the inbox clutter? You can personalize the contents of your email in the same way, or by ensuring you only send relevant information to the receiver. How about a birthday promotion, or post-purchase follow ups? Personalization makes automated emails seem less robotic or generic.


Think about length

According to studies, 65 character subject lines are the highest performers. Surprisingly, that’s about 15 characters longer than the average subject line – most are anywhere between 40 and 50 characters. But you should also consider the fact that if your emails are being read on mobile, each display is different. Text will render differently on different screens. So there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer to this. Our advice is to collect data for yourself using A/B testing on your subject lines. Try a shorter and a longer version, and see which one wins over a series of tests.


Be specific

Audiences have become wise to trickery, and have less and less time for irrelevant information showing up in their inboxes. Your subject line should be very specific as to what the reader will “get” if they choose to open it. That’s why subject lines like “Save $25 off your next in-store purchase!” work so well. It relies on the promotion or the subject matter of the content to be compelling. A subject line that is too vague won’t entice your reader enough, and a subject line that uses too much “clickbait” might be seen as spammy.


Test and refine

The most successful email campaigns didn’t just strike gold in the first send. Success is a product of testing and refining – hey, it’s a science!  For a successfull campaign, a strong email subject line goes hand and hand with an effective Call-to-action.  Clickback’s email lead generation software allows you to A/B test a whole host of important campaign variables, including your subject lines. Create multiple versions of a subject line, and learn from the performance data. Think about WHY one outperformed the rest (open rates, click through rates, etc.), and use that in your next round of tests.


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