12 tips for email subject lines that won’t get ignored

A successful email subject line is part art, part science but typically a recipe for anxiety for any marketer or business owner.

But it doesn’t have to be. If you’ve noticed that your emails aren’t getting the open rate you are looking for, then it’s time to take a look at your subject lines.

Here are 12 tips to think about the next time you’re crafting your next email.

Tip #1: Know your audience

The first rule of any marketing campaign is to know who your audience is. Where do they live? What are their interests? Are they mostly men or women? What age range are they primarily?

Having a general sense of who you’re talking to will keep your subject lines (and overall email content) relevant and engaging. It’s the critical first step because it will drive the topics you highlight and even the voice you use.

Have a broad audience? Be sure to use audience segmentation, which is one of the highlighted features offered by DailyStory. The benefit is that you can tailor your message to different parts of your audience to boost relevancy and, in turn, your open rate. In fact, according to EmailMonday, segmented email campaigns drive 760 percent more revenue than those that aren’t segmented.

Tip #2: Keep it as short and sweet as possible

In essence, novel-length subject line bad, snappy good. The shorter the better.

Think of your audience as skimmers with not enough time on their side. You’ll lose them with anything lengthy, and you’ll want to be concise while also quickly highlighting the benefit to recipients for opening your email.

According to EmailMonday, about 77 percent of email opens happen on mobile devices, so strive to keep your subject lines at fewer than 50 characters. Otherwise, mobile skimmers likely won’t see the entire subject line.

Tip #3: Action verbs are key

It’s the difference between being active or passive. Think of your email subject line as a call to action, not a book report title.

Starting your subject line with a verb inspires activity. Here’s an example: “Tour our new collection” versus “Our new collection.”

Tip #4: Personalization is more powerful than you think

Personalization tags, which are available in DailyStory, give you the ability to say a recipient’s name or location, for example, in your mass email. It’s that element of personalized content that can make an impact with your audience.

You’re only limited by your creativity when it comes to personalization and ways to use it.

Tip #5: Urgency catches more attention

If something is happening for a limited time only, definitely say so. Your audience can be compelled to open simply not to miss out.

But be sure to convey that urgency without using the word “urgent,” for example. Usually, simply stating the deadline is enough.

Tip #6: You can just tell them what’s inside

While a little mystery can go a long way with open rates in the right circumstances, clear transparency should be the name of the game most of the time.

If your recipient is getting an email because they downloaded a deliverable from you, for instance, you’re going to want to tell them that they’ll find it in your email. No need to beat around the bush.

Tip #7: Timing totally matters

Being cognizant of when your email is hitting your audience’s inboxes can be a great way to boost your open rate. For instance, talking about how to start your day first thing in the morning or sharing happy hour specials just before most people get off work.

Use the timing of your email to give that extra reason to open it.

Tip #8: The air of exclusivity

Everyone wants to feel special. Maybe something is a “private invite” or for “most valued customers only.”

Tell your recipients what makes them special in the subject line to give them a reason to open your email.

Tip #9: Use numbers when possible

Just like tweeting on Twitter, numbers and data get more engagement on email subject lines as well. Stay away from vague.

If you can use a number regarding your discount offer, or how many pages there are in your e-book or anything else, that specificity catches attention and boosts interest.

Tip #10: Avoid all caps or too many exclamation points

You can’t force excitement, but you can appear desperate or spammy. “ACT NOW ON THIS LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!!” comes off more like shouting than engaging, relatable or even professional.

Focus on being creative, specific and personable rather than shout at your audience.

Tip #11: Also avoid using both a question mark and an exclamation point

Here’s an example: “Want to save some cash? Act now!”

This combo is actually very commonly filtered out by email filters and can send you to spam, which is exactly where you don’t want to be.

In fact, here are 455 words that typically trigger spam filters to step in, according to Prospect.io.

All that being said, a question alone can be an open-rate booster for email subject lines.

Tip #12: Your preview text also matters

With all this talk about subject lines, it’s important to remember that you also have preview text to use as an opportunity to entice your audience to open your email.

Preview text typically will default to what’s in the body of the email, which can appear sloppy, unless you fill it out with something else. Recipients will see it when they see a preview notification of their email on their phone or in their email, depending. It’s a place where you can add in the details that couldn’t fit into your subject line.

A great rule of thumb, especially when starting out in email marketing, is to have a colleague take a second look at your email subject line (if not your entire email). But also, simply ask yourself if you would open your own email after reading your subject line.