5 Tips for Writing Winning Email Subject Lines

What’s the first step in creating an email that gets a reader to take action? Creating a compelling subject line. Forty percent of a person’s decision to read an email is based solely on the subject line. As such, it is critical your subject line grabs the reader’s attention from the minute it hits her inbox. Let’s look at five tips for writing winning email subject lines that will get people reading.

Stats About Email Reading

Did you know that on average 8 out of 10 people will read your email subject and send-from address? But only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the email. This is why you must make the subject line effective and compelling in order to have a successful email marketing campaign.

Tip #1

The experts at American Writers & Artists discuss The Four U’s approach to writing headlines:

  1. Be USEFUL to the reader
  2. Provide him with a sense of URGENCY
  3. Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE
  4. Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.

While The Four U approach was first designed for newspaper headlines, the same can be said for email subject lines. When you want to get someone’s attention, incorporate The Four U’s into the subject line as much as you can.

Tip #2

Keep subject lines short. It can be challenging to include The Four U’s while keeping a subject line short. But brevity speaks volumes and encourages reading. Try using powerful and actionable words in the subject line. Save the elaborate descriptions for the body text.

Tip #3

“You are not alone.” According to Copyblogger, when those four words are used in an email subject line, the message gets an average open rate of 90%, and has surpassed the 100% mark several times. How does that simple phrase make a winning subject line? It’s a universal feeling that people want to be included and feel they belong somewhere. Those words play to that primal instinct and provoke curiosity from the reader to see what else the email says.

Tip #4

Be sparing with “free” and “urgent.” Sure, urgency does provoke action and deadlines often propel decisions. But if your email subject line is constantly urgent and deadline-driven, some customers will start tuning out your emails and worse, ignore the important messages. The same can be said for the word “free.” While everyone wants a bargain, don’t count on “free” to ensure email open rates.

Tip #5

Test your subject lines. If you want to create winning email subject lines, test different lines with various groups of readers. Break up your email lists and send the same message with slightly varying email subjects. Only by doing this research will you be able to ascertain what readers are responding to, what works, and what does not.

The email subject line is your first chance to grab the reader’s attention and spur them to open the message. Consider The Four U’s as you write and keep your subjects as short and compelling as possible. Remember that a winning email subject line gets you in the door with the customer. Your next step is to engage them with the email itself, and to ensure your next message is opened when it arrives in their in-box.

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