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The Secret is in the Subject Line

Tom Perry
by Tom Perry - February 10, 2017


First impressions matter - even if people tell you they don't.

And I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that this holds true when an email lands in someone's inbox too - a bad subject line and you're straight in the place marketers fear the most... The bin!

Your subject line, in conjunction with a trusted From address, is what keeps your email sat in that inbox waiting to be read - so make it clear and concise!

You know that if you can get the subject line right, you stand a good chance at delighting your recipients so don’t be afraid to try something creative—you can always A/B test before sending it to your entire list.

If you are under the impression that subject lines aren't as important as they are made out then just take a look at these sobering stats: 

  • 35% of recipients open emails based on the subject line alone 
  • 69% report emails as spam based on the subject line. 

Convinced yet? I thought so, but don't worry because in the remainder of this post I will give you some of Sherpa's top tips to increase your email open rate with the right subject line - remember if you want any other sort of support you can get in touch with us below. 

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 1) Start with action-orientated verbs

Subject lines are similar to calls-to-action, in that you want the language to inspire people to click. Subject lines that begin with action verbs tend to be a lot more enticing, and your emails could be drastically more clickable by adding a vibrant verb at the beginning.

Actionable subject lines will inspire people to click on your email by instilling urgency and excitement.

2) Tell your recipients what's inside

If your visitor has downloaded an offer and you’re delivering it via email, it’s a great idea to use a subject line that says something like, “your new ebook inside!” or “your guide awaits!” This works better than a simple “thank you” in the subject line because it makes it clear that something is waiting inside the email.

3) Keep it short and sweet

Email subject lines will get cut off if they’re too long, particularly on mobile devices. And with 40% of emails being opened on mobile first, we recommend using subject lines with fewer than 50 characters to make sure the people scanning your emails read the entire subject line.

If you're struggling to keep your subject lines short, think about which words matter less and where you can remove a frivolous detail.

4) Use a familiar sender name

Thanks to the amount of spam email people get these days, most people hesitate to open email from unfamiliar senders. No one likes talking to a robot. Think about when you call a company and can’t get a hold of an actual person. It’s frustrating, right? This goes for email, as well.

5) Use numbers 

A lot of businesses send emails with vague statements in their subject lines -- which is why using data and numbers is a great way to get your emails noticed, demonstrate a clear and straightforward message about your offer, and set the right expectations.

Just like with blog titles, using numbers in your subject line is an effective email marketing best practice. You might use numbers to refer to the title of your listicle, the page length of the offer you're sending, a specific discount, or the numerical benefit of a particular resource you're providing.

Now, Go Write Better Subject Lines!

It’s easy to overlook subject lines when we’re writing marketing emails.

They’re short, so they should be easy, right? Not exactly. It’s often tougher to write short, punchy messages than long, rambling pieces. When you only have about 50 characters to work with, every word counts.

The best advice I can give is to try different things. See what works. Ditch what doesn’t. Repeat for success.

And if you want any advice with your subject lines or any other part of your marketing strategy then please get in touch with us! 

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