How to Grab Attention in E-mail Subject Lines

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It’s been said time and time again that first impressions count. That’s not just for in-person meetings anymore. In a technologically-inclined world, first impressions via a subject line for emails can mean the difference between being read by a potential client or being deleted immediately.

Numbers Game

The average subject line for emails holds about 90 characters. When reading emails on a computer or tablet about 90 characters appear, this includes the subject line and, depending on the subject line’s length, the first few characters of the e-mail body.

However, if readers check their e-mails on mobile devices, only about 40 characters are displayed, oftentimes this means just the subject line. Those first 40 characters are critical in a first impression. How do you make them increase the effectiveness of your e-mail marketing?

Subject Line for Emails Dos and Don’ts

Do keep it short and sweet.

Studies show shorter subject line for emails (41 characters or less), tend to be opened more often than longer subject lined e-mails. This might be due in part to the aforementioned character limit in the inbox menu, or is representative of busy readers preferring shorter e-mails. Readers may associate a longer subject line with a longer e-mail that they might not have time to read and will simply delete. Stick to shorter to increase your chances of being opened! 

Do ask relevant questions.

Asking a relevant question in the subject line gets readers thinking of a response. Bonus points for zeroing in on potential problems your customers may have like “What’s slowing down your productivity?”

Getting really relevant may mean breaking down your e-mail list into groups categorized by industry, age, or most purchased services. The categories depend on your business. E-mail software like SendLane can help keep everything organized and send out automated e-mails every time new clients subscribe.

Do give the audience a taste of something delicious.

Have your ever been offered a bit of something tasty: a perfectly cooked piece of steak, a bite of decadent dessert, or a sip of an expertly made beverage, then wanted more? That’s what your subject line should be: a taste of something interesting and worthwhile that persuades your reader to learn more. In the e-mail body, the persuasion continues into a rich newsletter, to a landing page, or call to action.

How do you make a subject line delicious? Figure out what makes your audience tick. A great way is presenting a problem that your services or goods can solve. For example:

“Five recipes to make sad berries shine” works for a food-centric business that has clients stuck with lots of end-of-summer berries. Readers who don’t want to waste food, or are just interested in learning new recipes will continue reading.

“Dry, brown lawns can be green in no time!” is ideal for a home improvement store or landscaping service pushing lawn care products and services. Busy readers who think green, lush lawns take lots of time will be intrigued by this time-saving promise.

Remember, a good e-mail is benefits rich, so try giving a taste of the benefits in the subject.

Don’t use spam vocabulary.

Avoid using spammy vocabulary such as sale, buy, free, help, etc. A good rule of thumb is verbiage that is repeated constantly on infomercials. You can also test yourself by perusing your e-mail’s spam folder and identifying possible culprits for the spammy categorization (just don’t open anything that looks like it contains a virus.)

Don’t be misleading.

There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a subject line promising one thing, but opening an e-mail to find something entirely different. That’s a sure fire way to lose trust with recipients and possibly end up on their blocked e-mails list.

Don’t underestimate the power of a verb.

People, whether they’ll admit it or not, like to be told what to do. That’s why marketing is filled with calls to action and requests to retweet, share, and comment. Just take a look at these two subject lines:

Without a verb: “This Thursday night’s event”

With a verb: “Eat, drink, and be merry this Thursday”

Which Thursday event sounds like more fun?

It also goes without saying the kind of verb matters. If we changed the first example to “Join us this Thursday” there’s a verb, but it’s still not as exciting as the second example.

Try Out a Few Methods

Now that you have an idea of what to write, you will also need tools to keep track of your progress. Luckily for you Sendlane™ is currently offering a free trial of our email marketing software!

Then you can gauge how your subject lines are working by monitoring e-mail analytics in our “Reports” section. You can track your opens and your clicks. You can easily see what emails and subject lines are being the most effective, thus honing in on the type of verbiage your clients prefer. A free trial gives you a way to use our great email marketing software without any financial risk

Finally, consider your own e-mail habits. What do you immediately delete, what grabs your attention enough to open up? Try to reflect the good marketing practices of the companies that grab your attention e-mail after e-mail.

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Zakaria Meftah

Zakaria Meftah

Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder at Sendlane
Based out of San Diego, California, Zakaria aka “Zak” is our young technological prodigy. Zak started his internet career at a super young age of just 15 years old, learning the ins and outs of technology and marketing. From building webpages to hosting servers, he found a passion in email marketing. By the time he reached 21 years old, he was proud to have delivered over 1 billion emails in his career. As one of the co-founders of Sendlane in 2013, Zakaria uses his expertise and passion to lead our technology team in building one of the "easiest to use" email automation platforms in the industry, bringing the enterprise grade solutions to every day entrepreneurs. He aspires to grow Sendlane into one of the most reputable and well known email platforms in the world.
Zakaria Meftah