Writing Irresistible Email Subject Lines


When readers see your email, they typically decide in under three seconds whether they’ll open it now, save it for later or delete it unopened. With so little time to grab your audience’s attention, it’s vital to get it right. If they don’t feel compelled to open your email, your recipients never see your engaging content or your irresistible call to action. Find out what drives people to open and what can lead to a quick deletion.

Keep It Short

If an elevator pitch lasts 30 seconds, that’s still ten times as long as you have to win your prospect’s interest with your subject line. Think of it as your waiting-for-the-elevator pitch, something you deliver in those few brief seconds between pushing the button and seeing the doors slide open. Subject lines should be no longer than 70 characters for two reasons. For one thing, you want to make a quick impact; for another, readers on mobile devices have smaller screens that may not display lengthy subject lines.

The half of your audience who reads email on mobile devices may soon be the majority. In some industries, particularly tech sectors, email users who check their mail from mobile devices already comprise more than half your audience. Your marketing automation system can tell you how your readers interact with your email, but it’s always a safe bet to choose a short, catchy subject line.

Customize It

Study after study has shown that open and click-through rates rise when email subject lines contain customized details. Addressing your leads’ needs right in the subject line of your email gets results. For integrated marketing automation systems that combine an email management system with CRM tools and analytics, demographic details are just the beginning. Using firmographic data, you can include job titles and relevant keywords to get readers’ attention. Even behavioral data can play a role in customizing subject lines. For example, a recipient who recently looked at your company’s loyalty program page might trigger email with a subject line that refers to the program.

Create Curiosity. . .

A great email subject line makes readers itch to see what’s inside. Curiosity is a powerful motivator, and instilling a little of it with a great subject line is key to quick openings. To build curiosity into your subject lines, aim for the gap between what recipients already know and what they need to know. Your customers already know your product line, for example, but they need to know you’ve recently improved or expanded it. Email lines that feature open questions, promise useful lists or focus on benefits perform well.

. . . But Not Too Much

Instilling curiosity is vital, but your subject line also needs to be specific to set your email apart from spam. Those ″one weird tip″ banner ads might get a few people to click, but they won’t stick. Email subject lines that are too vague, such as ″A Surprise for You″ or ″Open to Win,″ are almost always relegated to the spam folder. Give your readers concrete reasons to click.

Test Subject Lines

To make your email subject lines truly compelling, few techniques work as well as multivariate testing. Also called A/B split testing, multivariate testing sends different versions of your email to a small random sample of your target audience. Does ″Last Chance to Save″ outperform ″Sale Ends Saturday?″ Using marketing automation tools, you get results and pick the winner in real time.

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