Email marketing: How to write a great subject line

email hooks

Email marketing is a hugely powerful tool – but it’s got to be done right, and that starts with the subject line. Here are 8 tips to help you grab people’s attention. 


The first hurdle you’ll face when doing email marketing is the subject line. The success of your marketing depends almost entirely on coming up with something people will notice, and that will interest them enough to get them to open it. Most people are now bombarded by dozens of sales emails a day, so you have to make yours stand out from the rest. Research has found that 50% of people open emails based solely on the contents of the subject line, so this is your golden opportunity to grab a conversion. Here’s how to do it:


1: Keep it short


Remember that most inboxes will only reveal about 60 characters of your subject line, so you’ll need to make every word count – and in reality you’ll probably only have 6-8 words to play with. Anything longer than that will be wasted.


2: Put the most important words at the beginning


If someone is viewing your email on a smartphone, they’ll see even fewer characters that they would on a computer – as few as 25, so the most important words need to go at the beginning.  


3: Personalise it


Using the recipient’s name will make your email feel more personal and is more likely to get their attention.


4: Be enticing


Remember, your aim is to make the recipient curious enough to open the email, so don’t give the whole game away: write something that will grab their interest but not reveal all the information – such as “The secret to great hair”, or “Big news”. 


You could include a question, such as “Have you considered”, or “Do you want”, or something more direct, such as “These 5 tips will save you money”, or “Here’s something we think you’ll like”. If you’re retargeting someone who has visited your site you could say, “Did you find what you were looking for?”


5: Consider the minimalist approach


Bearing in mind the need to keep it brief and pique the recipient’s curiosity, a good tactic is to go for a truly minimalist approach and write a two or three word subject line such as “I’m impressed”, “You’ll like this”, “This is cute”, or “It’s happening”.


6: Consider including numbers


Sales emails with numbers in the subject line tend to perform well. You could say, “These 10 tips will transform your marketing”, “Do you have 5 seconds?” or “5 things you should know”. 


7: Be playful


A fun, chatty tone is generally the best way to go and it can help you put across a strong brand voice. You could say something like, “Can you keep a secret?” or “You have great taste”, or “Moleskin – is it made from moles?” (Yes, we really received that one!)


8: Create urgency


Make it feel important that they open the email, using lines such as: “You still have time to register”, “Only 24 hours to grab a bargain”, or “Your vote will decide”. 


Need help? At Primedia Marketing we’re experts in crafting great subject lines that will increase the success of your email campaign – in fact, we’re expert at all aspects of digital marketing and can handle your whole campaign for you. Get in touch to day to find out more. 


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