The Best Email Subject Lines to Increase Your Open Rates
When writing your email subject lines, these tips will help ensure that your customers open and read your messages, keeping your brand top of mind.

Scan your inbox and see how you react to the subject lines. A yawn? A scowl? A snore? That’s what we thought. Let’s face it, not many companies get it right. Your customers love you or they wouldn’t have signed up to receive your email. But they are busy. So why not make their day, and get what you want, too: eyeballs on your email content?

Here are 7 tips for writing the best email subject lines that get more customers opening, and reading, your messages.

  1. Be Descriptive

It’s better to be direct and descriptive than trendy. Communicate not only the promotion or offer but its benefits; call attention to specific deals, or offer a solution.

  1. Avoid Spam Trigger Words

Spam filters: love ‘em or hate ‘em, they sometimes strip out emails with subject lines that include all caps, lots of special characters or punctuation, or that are particularly heavy with sales-ey or promotional language. A subject line such as, “<<>“ will quite likely get flagged. The best email subject lines are written to avoid spam filters. Hint: if you want to see the kinds of things that get flagged, check the spam or junk folder in your email.

  1. Ditch the Questions

Opinions among marketers differ, but generally speaking, the use of questions in digital marketing lets the reader answer the question in their own way in their own mind, and perhaps not in the way that you would like them to answer! They move on, without engaging. The tired subject, “Looking for Last-Minute Gifts?” to promote gift cards to procrastinators is way overused.

  1. Mind the Length

A study of subject lines used by clients of the Xenial™ Analytics and Customer Engagement platform revealed that the best email subject lines for increasing open rates are between 20 and 24 characters, or about five words. With people increasingly checking their inbox via mobile devices with limited screen real estate, short subject lines are recommended, and the first few words should make an impact.

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency

Historically, a sense of urgency increases open rates for your email send. However, be careful not to overuse this tactic. For instance, businesses that constantly advertise “Going out of Business” but never seem to actually do that will have the opposite effect on email open rates.

  1. Implement A/B Testing

If you want to discover what works with your customer list, implement A/B testing. Take a small sample of your email subscribers and split them into two groups. Send each group identical email content except for the subject line. Let your marketing tool tell you which one received more opens, and send the more successful subject line to the rest of your email subscriber list. Apply your learning to future emails.


Final Thoughts

Whatever approach you end up trying for your subject lines, before you send, take a moment to step back and ask yourself what you would think if you received the email. Keep in mind that you always want to try to connect with your customers, and this is best done if your communications convey the sense that your business consists of people serving people. That way, you’re much more likely to engage and connect with your email subscribers. Everything in your emails from the subject line to the style of writing you use should convey your business’ personality and values.