An average customer receives more than 120 emails a day. The problem is, he opens hardly 20% of them. And if the email is promotional in nature then chances of it getting opened drops through the floor. Hence, subject line strategy has become extremely important especially in the context of our limited attention span and the immense email clutter.
A good subject line is like a conversation starter and, if done well, it could make the rest of the conversation fall in place. A subject line’s impact on email open rates is undeniable, and email open rates have a very high correlation with Click Through Rates (CTRs) and Conversion Rates.
Every 1% increase in open rate, increases the conversion by at least 10%.
Every 1% increase in open rate and click through rate, increases end conversions by at least 38%.
Every 1% increase in open rate, click rate and conversion rate, increases the end conversions by at least 83%.
At the end of the day, it’s obvious where you need to start.
An eye-catching subject line!
Studies show that 47% of us decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone. And that is important.
Here are 8 steps to help you optimize your subject lines.
1. Keep it short and simple
No matter what type of email you’re sending, the subject line needs to be short, crisp, and precise. Avoid long sentences and unnecessary characters. Your customers’ time is precious, so get straight to the point and avoid using unnecessary words. Something like “Hey there, here is something exciting for you” might put the user off. Take into account that around 50% of your emails are opened on mobile devices, so you have very little space before you’ll be cut off. It is always advisable to keep your subject line short and simple, say between 20-24 characters, as it will be visible on mobile devices and the chances of open rates are higher. Make sure your subject line is readable at glance.
Example: “We’re starting in 1 hour”
“5 ways to invest in equity”
2. Step into your audience’s shoes
When crafting a subject line, you should keep in mind your target audience and what you want them to do when they read your email. This advice is oft repeated, but is too important not to miss. The email subject line should be aligned with the objective of email. Never mislead your customers in order to fulfill your objective. If you want to send a survey email then your subject line should be different from offer email.
For example: “Tell us what you think” or “Your opinion matters” instead of “25% off, click here to know more”
3. Use FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Dig deep into your audience’s hope and dreams. Inject FOMO in your subject lines. Subject lines that emphasize the limited nature of offers or what recipients will miss by not reading your message can work wonders, which is why words and phrases like, “Last few hours…” or “Only few seats left” can create a sense of urgency and improve conversions.
4. Connect with your readers
Use of the reader’s first name in the subject line is one way to connect with your reader but it is not the only way to connect with your reader. There is no doubt that it increases the email open rate by around 25%, but it has become a common practice these days. Instead, try location, local languages, interest targeting, or subject that align with customer’s previous actions. You could also use a more personal “you” or “your” while speaking with your readers.
Examples: “Your this month’s performance”
“Your [cityname] has become a fashion hub”
5. Use of Preheader or Preview text
We discussed earlier to keep our subject lines short, but do we do when we have a lot to say? We can use a preheader, also known as Johnson Box, or preview text which will be displayed next to the subject line or underneath it. By default, this line of text is taken from the first text found in the email campaign, but you can set a custom email preheader that would make more sense and elaborate on your subject line. It has to intrigue your readers and make them want to know what’s inside the received email. There are no strict rules on how long the preheader should be. Usually, it is recommended to limit to 50 characters.
Instead of using the subject line, “Introducing GoFlyPrivate – Book your safe zone in the sky!”, you can use a preheader.
Example: “Introducing GoFlyPrivate
Book your safe zone in the sky!”
6. Make your subject line more attractive
While we regularly see emojis in texts and social media posts, these cute little icons are also valuable tools for email marketers. What makes them so valuable? Perhaps it’s because emojis stand out in an inbox dominated by text. Maybe it’s because subscribers can process pictures exponentially faster than text. Or it could be because icons communicate emotion more effectively than text. My previous experiments suggest that strategically adding an emoji to a subject line drives a 5% higher open rate. But it is recommended to add emojis only when they are relevant. Using them in all of your email subject lines or too many in one subject line could cause subscribers to perceive your email as spam.
“[firstname], Diwali offer for you!”
“[firstname], Diwali offer for you 🪔”
Which one caught your eye?
7. A/B test your subject lines
Although there are several best practices marketers should follow when it comes to A/B testing their emails, A/B tests on the subject line can be a good starter. There are a handful ways to test this, and here are some ideas.
- Personalize vs non-personalize
“[firstname], welcome to [companyname]” vs
“Welcome to [companyname]”
- Use of statistics vs without statistic
“Pick of the week – Potential upside 25%” vs
“Here is the pick of the week for you”
- Question Vs Statement
“Have you registered for webinar yet?”
“Webinar on [topic], register now”
Apart from above ways, you can also test on character count, preheaders, use of emojis etc. Keep testing until the time you get significant enough results to conclude.
8. Use subject line optimization (AI)
While creating subject lines still involves a degree of creativity, technology has made it possible to leverage data. Netcore’s AI powered SLO (Subject Line Optimization) helps the marketer experiment and finalize the best possible subject line for a campaign, by guiding him/her to select the best possible subject line by:
- Predicting the estimated open rate
- Showing top 5 best and worst performing similar subject lines historically
- Predicting inbox quality
- Sentiment analysis
- Word and metatag suggestions
REMEMBER: Above steps will surely help you to achieve end game which is conversion but there is no concrete theory. You need to keep experimenting and use a couple of more best practices i.e., targeting relevant sets of subscribers at the right time. Also,first impressions always matter, so along with a better subject line you should focus on right content and right CTA. If readers don’t find the content relevant, they won’t open your future emails.