Subject Lines

Want to Boost Your Open Rate? It’s All About the Subject Line

According to HubSpot, the average open rate for a B2B marketing email hovers around 30%, and range from 30.5% to 34.9%. or B2C emails. A variety of influencing factors can manipulatethat number, from the frequency of your emails to the industry to which they are tied, but one aspect more so than any other can make or break your campaign’s success: the subject line.

Why’s that? If you can’t get a recipient to open your email, then creating compelling copy that converts becomes a moot point. In other words, don’t worry about your elevator pitch until you’ve gotten into the elevator.

Luckily, plenty of marketers have come before you whose failures and successes have offered insight into what works and what doesn’t. Here are three solid tactics that will help your open rate head in the right direction:

Incentivize and personalize.

Incentives can be more positive, like something that solves a problem (“Say goodbye to pesky stains”) or makes life easier (“The no-fail method for stain removal“) or more negative, like creating a sense of urgency (“Only two days left!”) or scarcity (“Going, going…gone”).

What do you know about your customers wants and behaviors? Once you pinpoint what is most important to different demographics, it’s easier to determine which subject line approach would work best. What appeals to the 25-35 year-old male is a lot different than what’s important to the 55+ female crowd. Once you divide your email list into different target audiences, formulate headlines that cater to each group’s particular interests.

Keep it short—and sweet.

While the (scientifically-driven) jury is still out on ideal subject line length, generally under 50 characters is considered best practice, with the very sweet spot hitting between 29 to 39 characters, or a word count of between six and 10. Shorter headlines are more mobile-friendly, and that’s how most people are accessing the Internet. (More than half of emails are first opened on a mobile device.)

Marketing emails are a dime a dozen these days, so headlines packed with overused buzzwords will quickly find their way to the spam folder. It’s easy to fall into the “Free!” or “Hurry!” trap when you’re incentivizing, but there are more creative ways to do it. For example, Warby-Parker’s “Uh-oh, Your Prescription is Expiring.”

A/B Test.

Make data your friend. Formulate two headlines for each recipient segment of your campaign (start with 10%) and be sure to vary the formats. For example, test how a question (“What food burns the most calories as you eat it?”) vs. a first-person statement (“I ate this food, and the pounds fell off!”) performs. Analytics will tell you which ones are more effective for the full-scale campaign push.

The great thing about this tactic is that it will provide a lot more information about your customer beyond what subject lines work, like the times of day you are likely to see the most opens and click-throughs.

Still stuck? Try quick and helpful shortcuts, like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer or Adestra’s Subject Line Keyword Checker.