6 Ways to Write Killer Email Subject Lines

Image courtesy of Jonathon Narvey's photostream

Image courtesy of Jonathon Narvey’s photostream

Email still trumps social media when it comes to business transactions. After all, everyone has done some type of business via email. Almost everyone has made a purchase following an email. The same cannot be said for social media. Just by the simple nature of social as a communication channel, it has not been used or intended for this purpose.

So now knowing that the cries of email being dead are foolish and grossly exaggerated, let’s focus on the engagement and attention we can generate from email, starting with the beginning of the process – getting your email read.

The most important element of an email is the subject line. Without it, the rest of the email doesn’t really matter since it won’t get read – the goal of the subject line is to get the reader to open the email and read it. Let’s take a look at a few ways to put your subject lines to work for you.

1. Personalization

Personalization is a basic functionality of email marketing platforms, yet it should not be undersold, as one of the best ways to capture a reader’s attention is to use his or her name. Using simple and short subject lines with a first name is one of the best ways to ensure that your email gets read.

2. Curiosity

People are curious creatures, so use that to your advantage. Tease the inside of your email in the subject line. To take it a step further, tease a bit further in the body of the email and make the reader click through to your website.

3. Incomplete Thoughts

Human beings have a hard time dealing with incomplete thoughts. It’s like an itch that can’t be scratched and can be very powerful when using incomplete thoughts in your subject line. When you’re using incomplete thoughts or curiosity, just be sure to deliver once you finally satisfy the reader.

4. Brackets or Parentheses

Using brackets or parentheses to understate something can be an interesting way to get readers to pay attention to a certain element of your subject line. Examples would include [free], , (bonus) or (closing soon) among others. A peculiar use of parentheses that has gotten above average open response rates is putting your full subject line in parentheses.

5. Comedy

Using a bit of comedy or humor to coax a reader into reading your email can be effective. The email’s message should be fun in nature for consistency in order to be effective, but getting someone to laugh is always a good way to get noticed.

6. Controversy

Using a dramatic or startling subject line like, “Shocking confession” or “Stop Thief!” can certainly help your email stand out. But, your message has to have a feeling of sensationalism or a sarcastic twist to it to match the feeling of this subject line.


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