Email Subject Lines: 7 Templates to get Your Emails Opened
If you want to assure your next email campaign succeeds you definitely want to focus on writing irresistible email subject lines.
As you probably already know, your email subject lines can make or break your campaign. It won’t matter how strong your body copy is or how great compelling your offer if your subject line doesn't persuade your subscriber to open your email in the first place.
So how do you write killer email subject lines? It’s easier than you may think once you have a reliable bag of tricks to draw upon. However, beware that many popular subject line writing strategies are dead wrong and can backfire badly.
Before we go through the 7 proven ways to create email subject lines, let’s cover the essentials of effective email marketing to help dispel the myths.
It’s important to always remember that on the other end of your send button is a person, not just a ‘subscriber’ or a wallet. That person mostly likely is overwhelmed with personal and work email every day. If they subscribed to your list then it is safe to assume they are also opting in to other lists, including your competitors.
That they are an email subscriber suggests that they are the kind of person who is looking for solutions and helpful resources. This also underscores the first rule of email marketing: offer value.
Unfortunately, too many marketers write email subject lines that are full of hype, or even deceptive, in a vain effort to get attention at all costs. While it is possible to trick someone into opening emails, if there is no real value inside then eventually subscribers tune out or unsubscribe.
What offers value? Many things, including: Entertainment. A good deal. Helpful answers. A playful dance between suspense and curiosity and genuinely useful content. What offers value will depend upon what your subscribers are interested in. That said, if your subject line uses curiosity, a benefit, or a combination of both, you should get good open rate.
Here are seven email subject line templates that you can use to spark your imagination.
1) How to [insert anything your target audience would want to know]. People always want to know how to do things that get them closer to what they want. If your list is about weight loss, a how to related to that benefit will get subscribers to open. The more specific the ‘how to’, or the more difficult the task, or the more immediate the reward, the greater the interest in your email. For example, “How to lose belly fat in time for your wedding” is stronger than the generic “How to lose weight”. The ‘how to’ has to have perceived value to be effective.
2) Don’t let [this] happen to you. This is a pure curiosity subject line. People want to avoid bad things and will have to open the email to learn what it is all about. This subject line is an effective intro to a story about something bad that happened and how to avoid it. The only danger with a blind subject line is it will annoy your subscriber if you fail to satisfy the curiosity. The bad thing must be something your subscriber would care enough about to want to avoid, and the tip to avoid the bad thing must be credible. Of course, if your product or service helps people to avoid the bad thing, this can be a good framework for a sales promotion. However, definitely try to tell the story of what your subscriber should avoid and how to do it before pitching the product for maximum perceived value and congruence.
3) Special offer for this weekend only. A good special offer is a tried and true sales promotion tactic. This can be an effective subject line when used in moderation. As you can imagine, if you have a special offer every day, then, by definition, the offer is no longer special, right? Also, if you have these deals too frequently, you can condition your subscribers to wait to buy from you only when you have sales, thereby reducing your potential revenue. The special offer is a simple and reliable tool in your arsenal of subject lines if you keep it special.
4) Why [X] is better than [Y]. People like to hear strong opinions that help them make better informed decisions. If you think the Paleo Diet is better than eating Vegan, tell your readers why. If you take a strong position on controversial topics or skewer sacred cows, then you’ll attract a lot of attention. You may, of course, offend some subscribers who disagree with you, but if done with respect and sincerity and some solid reasoning, the subscribers who stay with you will be all the more loyal and eager to open your emails. If anything, it is more dangerous to the health of your conversions if you never express strong opinions because your message will blend into the background while more assertive voices stand out.
5) The best time to [insert benefit]. If you have a newsletter about gardening and you send out a tip about the best time to plant tomatoes so they grow big and plump, then your subscribers will open your email. Or if you have a dating newsletter, a tip on the best time to ask out someone to be sure of getting ‘yes’, would be another way to use the timing angle in a subject line. Or, the best time to eat a brownie if you want to lose weight quickly. That last example adds some extra curiosity by contradicting the expectation that eating brownies can only cause weight gain. Of course, it’s important to make sure that any curiosity you generate can be satisfied so there better be a way to lose weight eating brownies if you put it in the subject line. Curiosity without any real value is just hype.
6) Where to find [X]. As with the ‘best time’ subject line, everyone likes to know the best place to find deals, the best quality, or the best selection or the best place to find something rare. Of course, the best place may be your own products or services. If you are using this as a promotional angle, consider having the tip be genuine unbiased news and then have your product be a desirable complimentary purchase. For example, if you have an exercise program you could tell your subscribers the best place to find the equipment they’ll need to follow your plan. You could use this for an affiliate promotion; however, you’ll want to disclose any compensation to avoid the perception that your definition of ‘best’ is one where you make a profit.
7) I need your help. People like to feel like they are good and helpful. You can ask your subscribers to help you in many ways, such as giving you their opinion, which could help you develop better products or services. You could help raise awareness for a cause or charity, doing so can help make a difference and also build good will with your subscribers. It’s a good idea to keep the request for help within a range of things that would build good will and avoid seeming opportunistic. For example, if your pitch is that you need help to raise money to pay for your daughter’s college then make sure the offer is irresistible and heavily in your subscriber’s favor. Whereas a pitch begging for sales because marketing is hard and you need money will win little sympathy and a lot of scorn, as you can probably imagine.
Those seven email subject lines can provide you with a wide range of possibilities and hopefully spark your own imagination. Again, the key to a good subject line is to combine curiosity and a benefit and then deliver in the body of the email. That will keep your future email subject lines interesting to your subscribers and get your emails opened first.
Author: Heather Seitz
For over a decade Heather Seitz used email marketing to build successful companies and had to solve the biggest barrier to consistent profitability: deliverability. Today she is the Co-Founder and CEO of Email Delivered.
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