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Email subject lines that work: what, why & how


Writing good email subject lines

Writing email subject lines is often guesswork, and, like copywriting, your ability to write a strong subject line can depend on “the flow of the moment”, not only your past experience.

However, you can make your newsletter subject lines better than the average, and set them forth in the recipient’s inbox so your emails get opened — which is ultimately what you want.

10 newsletter subject line best practices

1. Write them short.

You have to catch the reader’s attention, and long sentences don’t do it properly. Although short headlines don’t necessarily have a purpose or a call to action (which is to open the particular email), it is likelier that a short headline will have one.

2. Put the most important words at the beginning.

Even if you write a 100 character subject line, if the first words are interesting, chances are that it will be opened. Subscribers don’t really read the subject lines, they skim read even those 50 characters for something interesting — if it’s there, they’ll stick around.

3. A/B testing.

As it is important to read into your past campaigns to determine what subject lines work best, it is worthwhile to do actual, real-time A/B testing. The open rate will tell you which is the most effective subject line. It’s easy too: simply send two or three the same content emails with different subject lines and see which one get’s better results.

4. Greet new subscribers politely.

If your email list is fresh, you probably won’t talk with familiarity and utter clever phrases. Be polite if you’ve had an influx of new subscribers or you are new in the business.

5. Personality.

#4 comes after #5, because the readers could dislike your personality, but they will appreciate you being polite. Don’t be afraid to convey your personality, though. The best emails are not always funny, but they leave a pleasant aftertaste to everyone who reads them.

6. Highlight the most attractive piece of what’s inside.

Maybe your newsletter is somewhat scattered and reaching across a number of topics? Not necessarily a bad thing, though. Think about the most interesting articles/snippets in the email, and write about them in the subject.

7. Keep it simple.

If you’re experiencing writer’s block or have no idea of what subject lines could catch your recipient’s information, just keep your subject lines simple. Tell your subscribers what’s inside, and, again, highlight what you yourself find interesting in the email.

8. Buzzwords.

Most of the Apple products from the past few years have been buzzwords, but buzzwords aren’t restricted to brands. For example, taking Rebecca Black’s famous music video as a buzz example, a headline ‘Friday — catch your bus with 20% off’ makes perfect sense and instantly attracts attention.

9. !!!Avoid SPAMMY subject lines!!!

Exclamation marks look unprofessional; generally avoid any spe©ial symbols or CAP$ LOCK
Needless to say, avoid anything that includes “viagra” and “cialis” and other spam words, about that you can read more in our article.

10. Adjust your subject lines for mobile phones.

Which means that you should do steps #2 and #1 until you’re sure that you can catch your reader’s attention with approximately the first 30 characters of your subject line. For the iPhone and E series Nokia which I got to test, the subject lines were 32 characters long and then got truncated.

Please add anything that’s missing from this list in the comments!

Email subject lines that work: what, why & how
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