How often do you get an email, take one look at the subject line, and never glance its way again? For lots of us, the answer is every single day. Getting an email is not like receiving a letter. You don’t need to open it to have a good guess what’s inside. The subject line of an email gives you most of what you think you need to know about whether to open it or not.

Studies show that receiving a personalised, emotive, or generally more interesting subject line makes you much more like to open an email, rather than delete it immediately. But how do you craft the perfect email subject line, and what should you avoid doing?

Get the length right

There isn’t much room at the top. True in life, and true at the top of an email. Your subject line needs to condense everything you need it to say into as small a space as possible. A mobile screen likely only shows around 25 to 30 characters, and a computer screen about twice that. You need all the important info to be visible on any kind of screen. As a result, get all the most important info into the first few words – at most about 8 words.

Choose the right words

Following on from getting the length right is getting the words right. The easiest way to write a subject line that crams all the relevant info into a small space is to eliminate unnecessary words. Things that can be in your email body, rather than the email subject line – like greeting for example – should not be in your subject line.

Position the most important words

The attention span of a person casually scanning through their emails is minimal. They don’t want to be bothered by you, so you should try to make it as easy as possible for them. Help people out by positioning the words that matter at the start of the subject line. This means that if someone is scanning their inbox, they are more likely to notice your email if the things that are important to them are present straight away at the start of the email.

Be specific

The point of a subject line is to get people to open the email. It isn’t just to catch their eye, or to interest them just enough that they open your email out of curiosity. Therefore, your subject line needs to explain what the point of the email – and therefore why the recipient should open it is, in as few words as possible. Specificity is about showing why an email is relevant. Tell them what the email’s about, and why they should open it. If you have a big sale event on, don’t tell people you have big news – tell them there’s a big sale with big savings!

Personalise it

People don’t want to feel like they’re on a list. They might well be, but they don’t want to feel that way. If you have the data to personalise your email subject lines for each individual (and the technology), then you should try it. Personalised subject lines, particularly those containing names, tend to have higher open rates than other types. Adding the recipient’s name shows them that you are serious about them as an individual, rather than just yet another address on a list.

Keep it simple

A subject line shouldn’t over-complicated things. It needs to make it clear what the purpose and point of the email is, and why the recipient should open it. An email should generally require a single action. Try to make that action clear in the email subject line. If you have a big sale, tell people they need to open the email to see what’s in the sale. If you are promoting new products, you need people to know they’ll see the new products if the open the email.

Help people out

Lots of people start looking at an email, go off to do something else, and forget about it for a while. Make it easy for those sorts of people by optimising your subject lines for searchability. Try to think about what someone might remember about your email if they are trying to find it again – and search for it. Think about what search terms someone might use to identify your email from among many, and see if you can use those in your subject.

Get it Right

It may seem obvious, but don’t allow errors in your copy to ruin your hard work. A subject line is short enough that you can stare at it endlessly until it becomes meaningless. However, ensure that you proofread properly. Don’t make the mistake of confusing visually distracting with appealing. Using ALL CAPS, or many emojis might make your subject line more noticeable. However, they do not necessarily make anyone more like to read them. Generally, it is best not to use too much punctuation in your subject.

Get Support

Writing emails is hard. Everyone is so bombarded with emails these days that bothering to even look at all of them is increasingly rare. If you are trying to sell something, it becomes even harder to convince people to open your emails. Fortunately, at Gumpo, we are experts in email marketing. That isn’t just writing subject lines. It’s researching, measuring and tweaking long email campaigns over months. We understand that the most important part of marketing is figuring out whether it works. You wouldn’t bother sending emails to people if they didn’t do anything. Gumpo spend the time to work with you to figure out what would count as ‘working’ for you. Then, we focus all our efforts on getting those results.

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