6 Ways to Get Your Subject Line Noticed

The following blog post was written by Jomel Alos, Online PR Strategist for PureB2B and Spiralytics. PureB2B is a lead generation and data services provider that helps numerous B2B companies accelerate their technology sales process.

Emails are a time-tested digital marketing strategy. Because of that, thousands of brands around the world send emails to reach their target audience.

With a high level of inbox competition, marketers need to know how to get their emails noticed by customers they can move onto an email database they can nurture.

This is where the importance of email subject lines come in. While the subject line is often left until the last minute and doesn’t have a lot of thought put into it, almost half of all email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone. That’s a 50% chance of your lead building email efforts going to waste if you don’t pay attention to your subject lines.

Here are six ways to get your subject line noticed by your readers.

1. Personalize subject lines

It’s no longer enough to incorporate a prospect’s name into the subject line; in fact, this has become such a common practice that many users look at these as spam. Research has even found that emails with first name greetings had an open rate roughly 3% lower than the overall average.

To successfully personalize subject lines, it is best practice to know your audience—their location, language, interests, and even past website behavior. Consider how LivingSocial and Groupon, has thrived on subject lines like “Best of Boston: Avanti Salon & More” and “Gifts for Baby and Mommy.” These are effective because it takes into consideration what is attractive to the specific potential buyer.

2. Use numbers and lists

Findings from a study revealed that subject lines that include numbers have higher than average open and reply rates. If you’re sending sales or lead nurturing email, using a number is your power of persuasion—especially for prospecting emails. Hard numbers (success rate, number of clients, financials) build credibility while general descriptions (world’s best, leading, most innovative) are seen by customers as mere buzzwords.

The success of listicles is also something to consider. The human brain is wired to think that an email with a subject line like “Top 10 Best Restaurants in the Bay Area” or “3 Ways to Get More Customers” will be easier to process while providing the promise of a quick and easy read.

3. Use emojis

Emojis have become a regular part of everyday digital communication, and it’s high time for email newsletters to incorporate them. According to a report, more than 50% of brands that used emojis in their email subject lines had higher unique open rates.

Moreover, character space is pretty limited when it comes to subject lines, especially now that email marketers are optimizing for mobile devices. With emojis, you can say a lot—and it only takes one character each. Finally, emojis let your emails stand out in a crowded inbox of plain text subject lines.

A few ways to use emojis could be:

● Any of the heart ones or the ‘in love’ face for special offers on events like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, e.g. “🌸 to make her 😍 this Valentine’s Day”
● Weather-related emojis to convey seasons and temperatures, e.g. “50% OFF on Heavy Coats This ⛄❄️ Season”
● Any of the food emojis for restaurants, lunch invites, etc., e.g. “Your 🍕🍕🍕 is on us! Join us for Friday lunch”

4. Use short or even one-word subject lines

While there is no statistical link between subject line length and open rate, it’s best to go with shorter subject lines. The safe numbers to take note of 4-7 words or 40 characters. Some email providers will truncate subject lines with over 60 characters, so use as fewer words as possible.

There are three reasons for the preference towards shorter subject lines. One, many of your subscribers are seeing your campaigns on mobile devices (with less space for email subjects). Two, users have short attention spans. And three, one-word subject lines are looking to be an effective strategy.

An ultra-minimalist email subject line example comes from a campaign by Mequoda, which had the simple subject line of “Panic.” It’s just one word, but it’s likely emotional enough to make the reader curious enough to open the email.

5. Mind your punctuation marks

Those exclamation points are hurting you. A study found that subject lines that includes an exclamation point had at least 6% less opens. While you may think that an exclamation point is catching your prospect’s attention, it’s actually not. Moreover, the chances are that email didn’t even make it to their inbox in the first place. Research shows that exclamation points in subject lines lead to lower than average open rates because this type of punctuation is actually a trigger for spam filters.

In lieu of exclamation points, try experimenting with other symbols and punctuations. Similar to the emojis, you could use ASCII symbols like hearts (❤), musical notes (♬), and stars (★) to add some character to your subject lines. Asking a reader a question may be a great way to spice up your email subject as well. Take an example from a Sephora campaign, which had a subject line that said “Rough day?”, conveying concern and emotion with just two words and a question mark.

6. Drop the FOMO hints

Using words like “Last Chance”, “Hurry”, and “Ends Today” to indicate urgency or hint at FOMO (fear of missing out) are overused and therefore doesn’t strike the right chord of persuasion. In fact, the Yesware study found that subject lines that incite urgency have at least 20% less than average email opens.

There are many strategies you can take in order to make your email marketing strategy more effective. The first and most important step, however, is to take a look at your open rates.

If you’re not happy with the numbers, it is time to reconsider the way you’ve been writing your email subject lines and start getting customers to notice you in their inbox.