10 Specific Tips for Writing Compelling Email Subject Lines

Despite sentiments to the contrary, email marketing is still a go-to tool for both B2B and B2C marketers. But, especially in the B2B environment, it can be challenging to break through the gatekeepers. Even if your email message gets through organizations’ firewalls designed to combat spam, you still need to capture the attention of your desired recipient—or land in the circular file!

Subject lines are a critical tool in your marketing arsenal.

Consider your own email inbox. As you look at that inbox what do you see? Line after line of text telling you three things:

  1. Who sent you the email.
  2. The subject of the email.
  3. The date/time you received the email.

Who sent you the email is likely the most powerful determinant of whether or not you decide to open it. If you know the sender and, especially if the sender is someone important in your life (e.g., your boss, your significant other, your best friend), you’re likely to open it.

If not, you’re going to check out the subject line. This is the moment of truth for marketers. Unless they’re really important in your life and you eagerly anticipate every email they send you (which is unlikely), it’s the subject line that’s going to determine whether you open the email, or send it to trash (or, worse, to spam).

With that in mind, here are “10 Specific Tips for Writing Compelling Email Subject Lines”:

  1. Keep it concise. Use clear and concise language that’s easy to understand. People scan their inboxes quickly. The more consise and clear your subject line, the better.
  2. Be specific. Clearly convey what your email is about. Don’t try to be cute or clever. Avoid vague or generic subject lines that don’t give recipients a clear idea of what to expect.
  3. Be personal. Personalize your subject lines by using the recipient’s name or other relevant information. This can help make your email feel more engaging.
  4. Create a sense of urgerncy. Use language that provide some compelling reason to open your email to learn more.
  5. Ask a provocative (but relevant) question. Pique the recipient’s curiosity and encourage them to read more.
  6. Use numbers. Numbers tend to be more eye-catching and memorable. For example: “5 Tips for Improving Your Email Subject Lines.”
  7. Use power words. Certain words trigger an emotional response in recipients. For example: uncover, empower, enrich, transform.
  8. Keep it short and simple (KISS). Aim for under 40 characters or about 5-7 words to avoid getting your email cut off in the inbox.
  9. Avoid spam triggers. Your email is more likely to get trapped by corporate firewalls if it contains words like: “free,” “limited time offer,” “act now,” etc. Avoid marketing lingo.
  10. Test your subject lines. Digital technology allows you to easily test your subject lines to see which perform best. This can help you to continually optimize your email marketing campaigns and increase your open rates.

Writing email subject lines may seem like an afterthought. It’s not, or shouldn’t be. Your email subject line holds the key to encouraging recipients to open, rather than trash, your important message.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results at reasonable rates.

In addition to content creation we specialize in helping B2B clients raise awareness and drive website traffic through a strong LinkedIn and Twitter presence.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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