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Subject lines simplified: 5 ways to amplify your open rates

Email marketing, love it or loathe it, is here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future. With three-quarters of businesses agreeing that email marketing offers a good or even excellent return on investment, there’s no sign that the popularity of digital mail is on the decline.


Email marketing is a fantastic opportunity for companies to build their brand image, engage with consumers and boost sales; of course, all of this involves getting the customer to read the content of the email, and therein lies a challenge.


Individuals receive an average of between 88 and 121 emails per day – that’s a lot of competition for your brand’s message right off the bat. When your email sits among dozens of others, how do you get your reader’s attention?


Well, aside from the sender field, there’s only really one opportunity to make a compelling connection with the recipient when they’re scrolling through their electronic mailbox: the email subject line.


Subject lines are essentially titles, catching the reader’s eye and leading them in. With just a few seconds to make enough of an impression to get that vital click, your email subject line has got to be bang on. Often, it’s the job of an email copywriter to craft subject lines that are designed to hook the reader and lure them in – here’s how we do it.


Tailor to your audience


The starting point for any email copywriting project should be the audience. A law firm would have a different audience from a clothing brand, for example, and the audience could be broken down further still depending on factors like location, age and interests.


If you’re sending out a relatively generic email that needs to appeal to a broad audience, think about what appeals to most people. Discounts, something new or unmissable, customer pain points, something funny – these are all options you could work into your email subject line to appeal directly to your audience.

Make it personal


Even if it’s blanket email you’re sending out, a touch of personalisation could make a difference to open rates. Addressing someone by name shows that you’ve at least made the minimum amount of effort to show your prospect that you value them.


In some cases, it may be possible to personalise email subject lines more, such as by mentioning a mutual acquaintance (Referral from Claire Briggs) or some of the prospect’s interesting news (Your latest award win). A pet company, for example, may send an owner an email with a subject line referencing the pet’s name: Keep Fido safe this flea season.

Be timely or trendy


Consider the timeliness of your subject line – perhaps there’s something in the news currently that your promotions could tie into, or an emerging trend that you’ve picked up among your target audience. Work this into your subject line to create an opener that resonates with your consumers.


If you can leverage timeliness in your email subject lines, or show that you’re on trend, you’ll spark your audience’s curiosity and encourage them to click.

Keep it short and sweet


There’s limited space in the email subject line and many people now view their electronic mail on smartphones, which shows even fewer characters than desktop. With this in mind, keep your subject line on the shorter side to avoid cutting yourself off mid-message.


Studies have shown that both longer and shorter email subject lines can be effective in generating opens but, as a rule, it’s prudent to eliminate unnecessary words that might detract from your message or waste valuable space.

Create urgency


Email subject lines that create a sense of urgency may encourage readers to click. Telling your readers about a limited offer that may run out or be unavailable in the future can convince them to open your mail and take action.


Conveying urgency or scarcity is a handy tactic but should be used sparingly – overuse may be off-putting and give an impression of insincerity.


Not achieving results with your email marketing? Our email copywriters can help. Let’s have a chat to discuss the best solution to your problem.