Consider your subject lines as the gateway to your email content. The goal is to ensure that your subject line does the job it’s supposed to: catch attention and encourage action.
Your approach to the perfect subject line will depend on the product that you sell. But even then… I’ve come to realize that the best email subject lines can cross industries based on what you want to achieve. I’ve worked at a lot of small businesses who lack the funds to have more than one person running marketing campaigns. Usually it’s just me as the sole marketer. So I rely on the ideas that I get from other marketing engines out there who usually have all of the data and scientific approach that I wish I had at my fingertips while crafting a subject line.
Instead, during the week I keep a subfolder in my inbox where I save emails that fall into two categories: 1. Those that prompted ME to click or caught my attention or led to my purchase; and 2. Those from competitors in my industry that I found to be very creative and want to modify/text for an upcoming campaign as a starting point to see if it might work for me. For example, although I work in the food/e-commerce industry, I subscribe to Lululemon and Alo for updates on athletic gear. I can’t even begin to tell you how much great inspiration I’ve used from both of these companies! I’ve also used subject lines from wine companies to help when I had more serious email newsletters to communicate regarding pricing updates and shipping, since the wine industry is often communicating to their clients about these topics regularly. As you can see, there are ways to draw parallels between industries when it comes to subject lines - we all want the same thing - for people to click!
#1 FOMO, scarcity, and urgency.
Some may consider this the good old fashioned approach, but I think it comes across as the most sincere. It shows that you want your customer to know about good products or deals. Just don’t over do this one because eventually they might stop if they’re overloaded with sales or they think the sale won’t be that great. You have to hold up your end of the bargain.
#2 Questions invoke curiosity.
The more relevant the question is, the more likely a recipient is to click through to find out the answer. It’s as simple as that! Just think about some of the most frequently asked questions, especially if you’re in a professional services setting. Using a question you know someone wants answered or about a hot topic can make the email subject line much more interesting. For example, let’s take the topic of employment law for all you lawyers and HR professionals out there. Isn’t “How are you responding to remote workforce trends?” much more appealing than “Weekly Client Alert On Remote Workforce Trends” - the first example draws me in whereas the second once I’m likely to maybe not delete right away, but I’m not eager to click and dive in.
Use the word “you” to help personalize your subject lines. Or even try incorporating their first name, but make it sound authentic if you do. I’ve found that click rates are higher when I use the word “you’ vs. the customer's name. I think it might be because (oddly) it sounds less spammy and feels less intrusive, but still personal.
Make sure the contents of the email are personalized to match this custom subject line too or else this approach will come off insincere. But if you really personalize from the moment they click into the email, this strategy will quickly become one of your favorites.
#4 Use those Emojis!
But use them thoughtfully and sparingly. Too many crazy emojis and your email will look like SPAM. But carefully and excitingly placed emojis will draw your target audience in.
#5 Use consistent identifiers like newsletter or alert SPARINGLY.
Before my current role with Locale, I worked for a seafood company that sent out a “Fresh Catch Newsletter” twice a week. It was really just meant to serve as a bi-weekly product update. Eventually I convinced them to remove the newsletter part of their subject lines, but we were still putting Fresh Catch at the beginning of each one. I found a way to circumvent the rule that you should have repetitive headers because people start to overlook them and think “oh, I’ll just catch the next one” - see below for an example:
Here’s a subject line that recently got one of our highest click through rates:
This one came through with an insane 89.9% open rate. Can you guess why? I switched up the “Fresh Catch” newsletter identifier by saying “Your Fresh Catch:” - this adds an element of personalization that makes someone feel like the seafood I’m about to show them is aligned directly to their tastes. And I delivered on that promise with the content. Each customer was segmented into a different group based on their buying preferences. The customers in this particular segment had purchased this rare New Zealand Saba Mackerel before, or fit the profile of someone likely to buy this fish. By calling it YOUR fresh catch, we received feedback from customers that they appreciated us taking the extra step to craft an assortment of fish designed to their tastebuds - almost like a fishmonger concierge! Then I even added the emojis, which helped spice up the headline and fit the fish/New Zealand theme perfectly.
My recommendation would be to draw from the tactics listed above in #1-5 as often as you can. Try them separately and then try putting no more than 2-3 together to see what results you get!
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