Call Us! 888-340-6731
Digital Marketing

Master the Art of Email (Part One): 10 Tips for Writing Subject Lines

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Master the Art of Email Part One 10 Tips for Writing Subject Lines

A well-written, plain-text email can perform just as well — or better — than a highly designed one.

This two-part guide will reveal twenty writing tips that will make even your most basic emails shine. Let’s start with ten tips for writing subject lines that get people to click.

1. Use Actionable Language

With email subject lines, it’s wise to use verbs like take, download, reserve, ask, or buy to tell the recipient what you want them to do. Then, combine that action with the value they will get from taking it. For example, “Take 50% off for a limited time only” tells people what they need to do, why they should do it, and when to do so. It’s highly compelling and will likely get a lot of people to want to learn more.

2. Personalize

Segmented emails tend to earn higher open and click through rates than ones that aren't personalized.

According to a study by the Direct Marketing Association, segmented emails generated almost 60 percent of all revenue for the marketers surveyed.

Personalization is powerful because it makes emails seem relevant and purposeful, forging a connection with the recipient. It isn‘t just about using a person’s name in the subject. It’s really about sharing the perfect information with the right person at the ideal time. Consider using personalized product or service recommendations based on purchase history. Or offer up content in a newsletter similar to what they’ve engaged with in the past.

3. Keep It Clear

Many businesses make the mistake of trying to be cute and clever in their subject lines to attract attention and cut through the clutter. Instead, it’s more important to write subject lines that are clear first and catchy second. When it comes to marketing copy, clarity is critical. Then, after you've created an easily understandable subject line, see if you can find ways to make it catchy and attention-grabbing without sacrificing clarity. The combination often results in highly clickable subject lines.

4. Align Your Subject Line With the Email Content

Over an extended writing, editing, and review process, it’s easy for subject lines to fall out of alignment with the content. It’s a waste of the recipient’s time to open an email because they’re interested in the subject only to find the body copy tells a different story. Not only will they abandon and not take action, but it could also harm the perception of your brand, reduce open rates in the future, and cause people to unsubscribe.

Always make it a point to check that the copy pays off your email subject lines before you send them out.

5. Use Emojis (Thoughtfully)

Emojis can add clarity to subject lines. (Think, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”) Emojis can also inject color, emotion, and personality into them. They can convey a tone, sentiment, or meaning that a limited number of words may not fully express. On top of this, emojis have universal meanings that people speaking different languages — and from a range of cultures — can understand, making them a powerful communication tool. Just be careful to not overuse emojis, especially if they conflict with your brand’s tone. Some levity is great, but emoji overload can become off-putting and cluttered.

6. A/B Test Subject Lines

Rather than betting on a single subject line, create two or more variations to compare performance. Consider experimenting with different keywords, using a question, including a number, or replacing a word with an emoji.

A/B testing subject lines helps you figure out what resonates with the people in your customer base. Tracking performance can help you craft better lines and improve open rates over time.

7. Use Numbers

Numbers are easy to scan and understand. They provide clear information to readers. They can also pique curiosity. The specificity of numbers clearly and simply conveys value (50% off) and makes claims more believable (2 out of 3 people prefer). Most companies find that email subjects that include numbers earn higher click-through rates.

8. Avoid ALL CAPS

Many people find that reading capital letters online makes them feel like they’re being yelled at. And that’s the last thing you want to do when trying to connect with prospective buyers. For example, “BUY NOW AND SAVE 25%!” is much less appealing to most people than “Buy now and save 25%.” Always communicate in a way that’s respectful and considerate of the people receiving your emails. If you’re not sure, check with some actual customers.

9. Make FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Your Friend

Subject lines like “Only 12 hours left for our annual clearance sale” or “Last chance to purchase discount tickets!” create an urgency that gets people to act.

FOMO is effective because it triggers a primal human instinct — the fear of missing out on something of value. Creating a sense of urgency, scarcity, or limitation gets email recipients to act quickly to avoid missing out.

10. Optimize for Mobile

According to a recent study, approximately eight or ten people prefer to open emails on their smartphones. That’s why it’s critical to ensure your subject lines are mobile-optimized. It’s wise to keep them under 50 characters so they fully display on smartphone screens. Mobile screens are smaller, so long subject lines might get cut off, which could cause your message to lose its impact.

Now that you know how to write a stellar email subject line, let’s explore how to create a superior simple email in part two.

We Are the Digital Marketing Pros

Work with a great team of passionate, experienced professionals.