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Inbound Marketing Insights

12 Expert Tips for Crafting Compelling Email Subject Lines

Posted by Prism Global Marketing Solutions | 5 Minutes to Read

Email marketing has been a tried and true method for businesses to reach their target audience for years, but with the number of emails that individuals receive every day, your emails must stand out. To help you craft compelling subject lines to strengthen your email marketing strategy, we've gathered tips from 12 professionals, including Marketing leaders and CEOs. From asking personalized questions to utilizing A/B testing, these experts share the following strategies for grabbing attention and boosting email open rates:

  • Ask Personalized Questions 
  • Personalize to High-Priority Buyers
  • Utilize A/B Testing 
  • Highlight the Benefits 
  • Treat Subject Lines Like Book Titles
  • Create a Sense of Urgency
  • Balance, Clarity, and Curiosity 
  • Avoid Using Spam Words
  • Aim for Concise, Specific Subject Lines 
  • Lead with the Value 
  • Include Emojis to Grab Attention
  • Take a Power Word Approach

Ask Personalized Questions

My top tip for creating attention-grabbing subject lines is personalized subject lines, particularly those with engaging questions. We've seen maximum positive results with this. Tailor your subject lines to address the recipient directly. It makes your emails more relevant and intriguing. 

Questions make prospects curious and encourage them to open your email. Instead of a generic subject line like "Boost Your Leads," write subject lines with personalized questions like "Ready to Skyrocket Your Lead Generation?" This will help you drive better engagement, click-through rates, and more satisfied customers.

Alka Gupta, Content Marketing Lead, Smartlead.ai

2. Personalize for Your High-Priority Contacts

Personalization is key. Through A/B testing of subject lines and content, it's been found that the highest open and response rates occur when individual, personalized messages are sent to high-priority contacts. 

This involves researching the individuals being reached out to and understanding their activities within the industry. Then, a message tailored to them is crafted, complete with a personalized subject line. An example could be: "[First name], congratulations on your ___ award!" 

We have found that taking the time to write personalized messages with personalized subject lines results in an average open rate of 10% above the industry standard and an average response rate of 25%.

Morgan Hastings, Marketing Associate, Ronin

3. Utilize A/B Testing

We always test variants of subject lines when we send out marketing emails. With each test, we get closer and closer to the formats and word choices that work best. Some of our insights have helped increase our open rates by a substantial amount. 

And that's just from doing little things, like starting an email subject line with "Inside: [etc.]" or ending it with "..." or using enticing words like "secret" or "gift." The subject line should make the reader pause, curious, then open the email. So, we try to tap into that curiosity.

Matthew Stibbe, CEO, Articulate Marketing

4. Highlight the Benefits

People naturally assume that a promotional email wants something from them—their time, their money. However, if your subject line immediately communicates something beneficial they'll gain from opening the email, they're much more likely to do so. 

For instance, when marketing a new software update, instead of using a subject line like "Check out our new update," I went with "Boost your productivity now with our latest software update." This way, recipients knew instantly that opening the email could improve their productivity.

Timothy Clarke, Sr. Reputation and Marketing Manager, Rize Reviews

5. Treat Subject Lines Like Book Titles

The method I use, which helps me average 35% open rates, is treating each email subject line like the title of a book. You want to grab your reader's attention, but you don't want to mislead them into expecting one thing and delivering another. An example of this is "Feeling Unsupported and Extra Stressed." It is concise and immediately describes the pain points someone may be experiencing. 

Along with treating it like the title of a book, I also try to implement the first part of any copywriting formula. In this case, I utilized the pain-agitate-solution method. This method shows the reader that we understand the problem and leads them to the solution.

Beau Bawab, Director of Marketing, Beau B Content

6. Create a Sense of Urgency

Create a sense of urgency in your email subject lines. Ensure your customers know this might be the last moment they'll be able to take advantage of a promotion or deal. "This week only!" and other similar language do wonders for increasing click-through rates and inquiries/sales.

Becky Dunlavey, Marketing Manager, UNIQUE Paving Materials

7. Balance Clarity and Curiosity

In the vast email marketing landscape, the subject line is your first, and often only, chance to capture the recipient's attention. Drawing from two decades of copywriting and running a digital agency, my top tip for creating compelling subject lines is to tap into the reader's curiosity without giving everything away. Think of it as the headline of a news article; it should intrigue and promise value, prompting the reader to delve deeper.

It's essential to balance clarity and curiosity. Avoid generic phrases that get lost in an inbox cluttered with promotional content. Instead, use actionable language, pose a question, or present a relatable challenge. However, ensure it aligns with the email's content; misleading subject lines may get clicks, but they erode trust. Remember, authenticity and a dash of mystery make a subject line hard to resist.

Shane McEvoy, MD, Flycast Media

Avoid Using Spam Words

Overtly promotional subject lines are frequently the ones that are flagged as spam. This means that you should avoid overly promotional language like "Buy now" or "Free," as well as solid punctuation like all caps and repeated exclamation marks. These are guaranteed methods to ensure your promotional emails are in the spam folder. Rather than concentrating on self-promotion, consider contributing knowledge that will be helpful to your audience and offering your expertise.

For example, the subject line should focus on the email's value, not spam.

Mother Earth Pillows used "Essential Oils..." in their subject line to highlight subscribers' benefits from reading their email. Find out what they do!

Oliver Andrews, Digital Marketing, OA Design Services

9. Aim for Subject Lines that are Concise and Specific

Creating attention-grabbing subject lines in email marketing is crucial for driving engagement. One top tip is to be concise and specific. Keep your subject lines short, ideally under 50 characters, and focus on a compelling, relevant message that piques curiosity or offers an obvious benefit to the recipient. Use action-oriented language and personalized elements, like the recipient's name, to make it feel more tailored to them.

A/B testing subject lines is a valuable strategy to discover what resonates best with your audience. By sending two variations of a subject line to different segments of your email list and measuring their open rates, you can gain insights into what works best. It's essential to test one element at a time (e.g., wording, length, or tone) to isolate the impact of each change. 

Over time, you'll refine your subject lines based on data, increasing the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns and ultimately driving better results.

Josh Bluman, Co-Founder, Hoppy Copy

10. Lead with the Value

For email marketing, my top tip for creating attention-grabbing subject lines is to lead with the value. Instead of being catchy or quirky, prioritize giving a clear picture of the benefit the reader will gain from opening the email. While a playful or intriguing subject can momentarily capture someone's attention, it might not guarantee engagement. 

In my experience, being upfront about the email's value while ensuring it resonates with the target audience consistently drives better open rates and engagement. In essence, make sure your subject line is a promise of value that your email content delivers.

Kevin Hall, Marketing Operations, Webserv

11. Include Emojis to Grab Attention

A tip that has been very successful in my recent email marketing campaigns is the use of one or two appropriate emojis for creating attention-grabbing subject lines. Emojis have been a staple in the online email and social media marketing world ever since the internet and email started. 

Over the past decade, emojis have become prevalent in our online interactions, so why not use them to catch the eye of someone scrolling through their email inbox? Emojis are utilized to present emotional cues and feelings during typed conversations. 

For example, adding the bell emoji at the end of an otherwise non-urgent-looking subject line can instantly catch the eye of any consumer or employee. The chiming bell can indicate the urgency or importance of the email. However, it's important not to add too many emojis as that can come off as spam.

Chris Hunter, Director of Customer Relations, ServiceTitan

12. Take a Power Word Approach

I utilize power words in my email marketing campaigns. Many marketers do that in their content marketing. These words are unique and relevant to the content they want to promote. Such terms stimulate psychological urgency and drive the audience to pay attention to them. 

These words can be unique and hardly used, or they can have the high capacity to generate emotions from the customers and make them take action measures like buying a product or subscribing to a page. This technique is effective in email subject lines, too. 

Using impactful power words in email subject lines in adequate measures draws customers and makes them open the emails. However, I advise not to overdo it to avoid confusion.

Daniel Thompson, Co-Founder, Salt Water Digital

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Email Marketing

Prism Global Marketing Solutions

Posted by Prism Global Marketing Solutions

Prism Global Marketing Solutions is a HubSpot Platinum Partner based in Phoenix, Arizona helping businesses maximize their marketing investment with a strategic approach to inbound marketing.