Picture this. You have something awesome to promote to your email list one morning so you send an email blast to your entire list.
Yeah, I’ve been there.
It sucks when you pour your heart into an email and don’t even get past the front door.
My subject lines were dreadful. Here’s a few gems I was able to dig up:
- Newsletter #27: Latest updates from the blog.
- New Blog Post Alert!
- New products are up! Open this email to buy now!
Every time I sent an email I would get unsubscribes and zero engagement.
It wasn’t until I started paying attention to which emails I opened that it finally clicked.
Emails that piqued my curiosity were always opened.
So I dove in head first into understanding what makes humans open an email and I discovered 14 key factors that really make a difference.
But First, Why Bother With Email?
The money is in the list. That’s what everyone says at least. But let me tell you, it’s so true!
The best way for bloggers to make money is with an email list.
You will find it very difficult to convince someone to buy a product off a single blog post and practically impossible from ads on your sidebar.
Email marketing is an awesome way to make money because you can promote products to an engaged audience that you’ve already built trust with!
If you haven’t started an email list yet, I wrote a simple step by step guide on creating your first email list here.
Why Focus On The Subject Line?
The subject line is the most important element of email marketing.
Without an awesome subject line, it doesn’t matter what you’re promoting, you’re not making a dime.
While ultimately your offer needs to be good, nobody will get down to your offer if your email subject sucks.
Imagine the same exact product, being promoted by two people with a different email subject line strategy.
- Subject line 1: Buy These Effective Weight Loss Pills! On Sale Now!
- Subject line 2: I Lost 12 Pounds In 7 Days! [Before+After Pics Inside!]
Which email makes more sales? Clearly the 2nd one. Not because the product is any better, but because email #2 will have a higher open rate.
Higher open rates give you more chances at making a sale.
So if you’re not making any money with email marketing, it might not be because your product sucks or your sales copy sucks.
Maybe it’s your weak email subject lines, yo.
Take a look at your open rate. Is it under 20%? If so, follow my 14 email subject line tips and watch your open rates double to over 40% like mine did!
Let’s do this!
1. Make Your Email Subject Line Easy To Read
Don’t overthink it.
The sole purpose of a subject line is to get them to open it. Nothing more.
You should be able to scan and read your subject in a couple of seconds tops.
Here are some best practices for subject lines.
- Subject lines are like blog post titles, so Capitalize The First Letter Of Each Word Like This.
- To make it easier to read, avoid grammatical mistakes and spelling errors.
- Don’t use more than one exclamation point or multiple emojis, especially in the middle of your subject line.
- Limit your use of slang. Audiences from different age groups or geographic locations might not understand.
2. Keep Your Subject Lines Short
It’s important to not have your subject cut off by Gmail or whatever email software your subscribers use.
On my iPhone using Gmail the subject cuts off at about 40 characters.
Mobile matters a lot with emails. My stats show that more than half of my subscribers open their emails from their smartphone.
You’ll have more room on desktop displays, but optimize your email subject lines for mobile.
Aim for a subject line between 20-40 characters or between 6-8 words.
3. To Engage Your Readers, Ask Them a Question!
A question mark goes a long way. When your readers see a question, they immediately begin thinking of answers. It’s just human nature.
Questions work because a question creates a loop but does not close it. We have a tendency to want to find a resolution to things.
By posing an interesting question in your email subject, it will significantly raise the odds of them reading your message.
4. Refrain From Using Terminology Used In Spam
The number one reason emails don’t get opened is because your emails end up in the spam folder.
This can happen when your email subject triggers spam filters in email providers like gmail.
Avoid using words that trigger the spam filters such as gift, 100%, order, save, deal and offer.
While using one of these words alone may not be enough to send you to the spam folder, it does increase your chances of ending up in the black hole of email.
5. Create A Sense Of Urgency
You’ve heard of FOMO haven’t you? Fear Of Missing Out. We all have it whether we’d like to admit it.
People don’t want to be left out of something exciting. It’s up to you to create a sense of excitement and urgency.
You can use phrases like “today only” or “before time runs out” to create a deadline. People intuitively are interested when time is running out.
Have a look at these instances of subject line urgency:
- Hurry! Only 24 Hours Left To Use Your 60% Off Coupon Code
- Today Is The Last Day To Enroll In My Course
- There’s Still Time To Qualify For Your Members-Only Discount
6. Customize Your Subject Line To The Recipient
When you mass mail your list, you send out one email to the entire group. This is impersonal, not targeted and not recommended.
The solution is to personalize each email so the recipient feels like you’re talking directly to them.
Doing this manually would be impossible. But there’s a shortcut.
If you collected other information at sign-up, such as their first name, you can use this information to personalize the email.
Depending on what information you collected at signup, some examples of personalized emails could be:
- [Name], Ever Think About Why…
- What Real Estate Agents Are Saying About [City Name]
- Boost [Company Name] Sales With…
- Let’s Give A Traffic Boost To [Website Name].
7. Segment Your List Into Interest-Based Groups
You can add email subscribers to different groups in MailChimp based on what lead magnet they subscribed from.
Then, you send different emails to each group.
Your emails will be more targeted if you segment your list this way.
For my blog, I can have the following different groups:
- Beginner: Don’t have a blog but want to start one
- Intermediate: Just started my blog, new to blogging
- Advanced: Blogging pro looking to grow my income
This way I can better tailor my email content to each group and increase my open rates.
I explain how to do this in more detail in my email list hacks article.
8. Say Something Controversial
You can elicit an emotional response by using controversy in your email subject. These kinds of emails tend to get opened since they trigger an emotional reaction.
Here are some examples on how to stimulate curiosity by saying something controversial.
- You’re In Over Your Head! I Can Tell You What You’re Doing Wrong.
- You Have A Terrible Blog! Here’s How To Make It Better
- No One Likes You, But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way. Here’s Why.
Pick a topic within your niche and take an unconventional stand on it.
For example, a food blogger who’s against extra virgin olive oil? A weight loss blogger who’s in favor of high fat diets? A real estate blogger who prefers renting over owning a home?
9. Use Lists And Numbers In Your Email Subjects
Numbers are easier to process than words are. You don’t have to go all Buzzfeed-like in your subject lines, but treating email subject lines like blog post titles can do wonders.
Here’s some examples:
- 17 Amazing Email Marketing Tricks To Master
- 15 Productivity Hacks Used By Millionaires
- 29 Mind Hacks To Sleep Better
I have the formula for writing great blog post titles here.
10. Capture The Interest Of Your Readers With Curiosity
Writing a subject line that stimulates curiosity takes time and skill to master. But once you’ve got it down to a science, you see their effectiveness.
The following subject lines do an outstanding job of stimulating curiosity and increasing open rates.
- I Doubled My Traffic By Using This Content Marketing Method
- This Man Earned $1,000,000 By Doing One Simple Thing
- You’ll Never Believe How I Made $100 Yesterday
I used this in my blog post title “14 Email Subject Line Tips To Double Your Open Rates”. Had I instead said “To Improve Your Open Rates” it wouldn’t have gotten much attention.
11. Preview Text Optimization
In most email programs, you see the name of the sender, the subject and the first few words of the body of the email.
With Mailchimp you can edit the preview text of your message.
Take advantage of this space by making the email even more enticing to open.
The best type of preview text leaves the reader hanging in suspense. Here’s a couple of examples of a good use of the preview text.
- Norman made more than $1,000,000 last year by…
- I didn’t know what I was doing, until I tried…
12. Conduct A/B Testing
A/B testing is when you create two emails with different subjects and test the results.
Here’s how to conduct A/B testing:
- Send your email with Subject #1 to 10% of your list.
- Send your email with Subject #2 to 10% of your list.
- Wait 24 hours and analyze the results. See which email subject had the higher open rate.
- Send the email with the winning subject line to the remaining 80% of your list.
13. Clean Up Your Email List
Another way of increasing your open rates is to remove email subscribers who never open your emails.
This practice of cleaning up your email list should be done periodically and will keep your email marketing costs down.
By having only active email subscribers, you send a signal to email providers that you are not a spammer and are sending quality emails that should be delivered to everyone on your list.
This is the secret sauce to improving your deliverability rates so that 100% of your emails end up in your subscribers inboxes and not their spam folder.
14. Subscribe To Your Competition
Is there an industry leader in your niche? Of course there is.
Join their email list and see how they write their email subject lines.
Odds are they have refined their technique through the years and now create perfectly optimized subject lines with high open rates.
Learn from their email subjects because theirs are proven to work.
Doing things “your own creative way” is so overrated.
If others have already spent the time and money to come up with a style of email subject lines that work, why not learn from them?
Did you enjoy the email subject line tips and ideas I shared with you? If you did, please save this post on Pinterest on your email marketing boards.