Alert! Email Subject Lines That Grab People’s Attention

If you’re a PR or marketing agency, creating emails that people open is essential. The best way to increase your click rate is to create an eye-catching subject line that cuts through the rest of the spam and promotional material flooding each of our inboxes every day. There’s an art to sculpting alluring headlines. Here are some tactics that you should use to ensure your emails aren’t overlooked.

Keep it short and sweet

Lengthy subject lines will often get cut short. They are rendered even shorter when viewed with a mobile device (which is about 40% of emails). It’s therefore important to keep your subject lines snappy, ideally 50 characters or less. Cut down any words that aren’t needed for example instead of ‘You can win a free holiday…’ cut straight to ‘Win a free holiday…

Alternatively, put all the most important information at the beginning of your subject where it won’t get cut off.

Use dramatic keywords

Your use of lingo is very important – particularly the first word. Great openers include words like ‘alert’, ‘don’t miss’, ‘exclusive’, ‘new’ and ‘breaking news’. These words create a sense of excitement and insistence. Phrases like ‘today only’ and ’24 hour giveaway’ can further create a sense of urgency.

Making readers feel special and elite has also been shown to increase click rates. Using phrases like ‘for our beloved customers only’, ‘you’re invited!’ and ‘a gift for you’ can psychologically create a sense of exclusivity, even if you are sending that exact to email to every client.

Similarly there are certain words that should be avoided. A study from Adestra found that emails including the word ‘newsletter’ suffered an 18.7% decrease in open rates.

Tease with an unresolved question or statement

A question or statement requiring an answer can grab readers’ curiosity. For example ‘Are you making these social media mistakes?’ and ‘You won’t believe how cheap these holiday deals are’ or ‘Pssst! We have a secret offer for you’. Give away just enough information to entice the reader in, so that they have to open to find out more.

Use symbols

A recent phenomenon is the use of special characters to catch people’s attention and give extra added meaning. An example might be Cheap Flights To Rome…’ or Limited offer…’. You should always send a test email when inserting symbols into your header just to check that they are compatible. There are many sites that list such symbols. Copy and paste now and see the magic effect it has on your recipients.

Link to current events

A great way to ensure your emails get read is to make them relevant to current events. Such examples might be ‘Try these Christmas stocking filler ideas!’ or ‘Scary deals in the lead up to Halloween’. Also feel free to reference big events such as the Olympics and news affairs. Avoid being overly political as this could be divisive amongst your recipients. You should also be careful exploiting certain situations like a terrorist attack or the death of a celebrity. Starting a promotion for furniture with ‘R.I.P. Bowie’ (an email I myself received last year) is irrelevant to the product and could be considered bad taste.

Don’t make false promises

Lying about the contents of your email just to get people to click on it will not do you any favours. It will only anger your recipients and most likely get you marked as spam. Whilst you can exaggerate the truth, be careful as to how much you are exaggerating. If the deal you’re offering isn’t really ‘deal of the century’, don’t claim that it is as this overdramatic behaviour will only annoy people. If you’re using percentages or facts, double-check them first to ensure that you aren’t giving inaccurate information.

Use a familiar sender name

Whilst not strictly related to the subject line, the recipient’s other first immediate impression is the name of the sender from which the email is coming. If they do not recognise the sender, or if the sender address looks spammy or dull, they most likely will not open your email, regardless of the subject line. This includes vague and cold sender addresses such as ‘[email protected]’.  Use your full name instead to create a personable feel. Even if your email is automated, it will feel like it’s coming from a human being rather than churned out by a company robot. You can just use your company name if your company is well known and the email is for an official purpose, but otherwise you should always give your name.

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