Which part of the email can make or break your open rate? The most common answer is the subject line, and for good reason: People know from personal experience that many emails are dumped or opened based on what they can glean from the subject line. As marketers, we then try to craft subject lines that can attract even the most stubborn B2B lead.
It’s not always easy. The obvious advice is, well – obvious. Make a subject line catchy! Make it “urgent”! Okay…but what does that actually mean? Let’s take a look at our favorite, practical advice for creating an email heading and improving your email marketing.
Subject lines should always be concise, but in today’s mobile world it’s especially important that they stay short. Busy decision makers may be on their phones when reviewing email, which means the subject line may be shorter than usual. Try to get the point across in the first few words. Don’t set up any complicated questions and answers or long sentences with the subject buried beyond what people will see. Stay simple, sharp and purposeful. As always, you can take a look at what the experts are doing for more ideas.
Always use action verbs! But this is especially true for email subject lines. Action verbs are a great way to focus your subject on important information. They also help readers to pay more attention and move from the “casual delete” mode to “wait, what is this email about” mode. Plus, action verbs are a great way to quickly convey the value of the email. What can the reader do? Can they save, increase, win, learn, cut, or improve? You see where this is going.
B2B leads are naturally wary of spam email that doesn’t really contain anything useful. One effective way to help convince them an email isn’t a waste of time is to include an appeal to authority in the subject line. There are several options, depending on the type of email that you are crafting. You can mention a popular publication or thought leader in your industry as an opener, so that knowledgeable leads will want to know what they have to say (be wary of the word count for this, though). You can mention a company leader if you are confident readers will recognize the name, or a client’s name so that it’s clear the email will contain a case study or testimonial.
Is your email going to teach the reader something? Consider creating a practical how-to subject line. Readers will be more responsive if it’s clear that they can gain a new skill or valuable knowledge from the email. Use the how to line for your more informative emails!
Numbers are often a good idea for subject lines. They are short, so they don’t take up much room. They promise factual data, which automatically increases the value of the email in the mind of the reader. Also, numbers are a great way to quickly prove your point: Saying “Increase page views by an average of 30%” provides specific information that helps readers believe you may actually know what you are talking about. You can also get inventive here: Is there a specific time of day, a certain date, or a key measurement you can discuss?
You don’t want every subject to be a question, but this tactic can be very effective when used in moderation. Much like action verbs and appeals to authority, questions flip the little switch in a reader’s brain that makes them pay attention instead of just deleting. Even a split second wondering, “Yeah, what new compensation do employees want?” can help improve an open rate. Once you have them by their curiosity, it’s far more likely that people will open the email.
It’s okay to have your subject line to be the start of the email, as long as it makes sense. If you start a story about a case study, new company event, or important news, then readers will naturally want to finish it by opening the email. Plus, it’s a lot easier to create a good hook if you tap into the full story you are presenting! Again, just try to keep it short when possible.
If you’re having a block and can’t come up with anything, be honest. Say what’s in the email. Sometimes, it’s doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.