While social media posts can include images and provide all information in one viewing, emails remain enslaved to the limitations of subject lines. If your email’s subject line fails to catch your audience’s attention, all of your efforts invested into crafting that email go to waste as the email disappears into the trash bin or gets buried by other more attention-grabbing emails.
Even if you have followed the 10 golden rules for email blasts; and even if you may have created a masterpiece of an email, the success of your email marketing ultimately hinges upon the effectiveness and catchiness of its subject line. Fear not, this post will tell you everything you need to know in order to get your recipients opening those emails.
Related: 100+ Email Subject Lines (free eBook)
Elements of Catchy and Effective Subject Lines
Target Your Audience
One way to understand the market you’re targeting is by imagining them in a bookstore. If your business had its own bookstore, what type of people would it attract? Teenagers looking for new trends? Professionals who are pressed for time, scanning the shelves for the exact information they came to find? Families that need resources to stay healthy?
Who are your buyer personas? Imagine the titles that would catch their eye. This will help you to identify the types of subject lines that will catch their interest when checking their inbox.
While the “catchiness factor” is important, it’s more important that you prioritize effective content over creativity. You don’t want to disappoint your readers once they open the email.
It’s alright (and encouraged) to add a creative spin to your subject line, but it’s best to stay consistent with your brand voice and the rest of your message. If your subject line is about dogs, but the email is about umbrellas and doesn’t mention dogs at all, you can bet your readers will stop relying on your subject lines to get a quick gist of your email (and stop opening them).
Check for Accuracy
The scariest part of email marketing is that once it’s out there, you can’t change it. Double check and triple check everything. Catchy and attention-grabbing subject lines won’t get you anywhere if any of the information is accurate.
Long email subject lines are not only cumbersome and annoying, but they also may lead readers to think that the content of your email will be the same. Keep things short, sweet, and informative. This is an essential part of the “effective” in “catchy and effective subject lines”. Assure your readers that they’re not entering into a novel of excessive or repetitive information upon opening the email.
No one likes a subject line that is deceiving, inaccurate, or long. Read our Do’s and Don’ts of Subject Lines for more help with this.
Reflect Your Brand Voice
When crafting your email subject lines, it’s important to determine the voice and feel that will both accurately represent your company and values and resonate most with your audience.
Give your audience a reason to explore further by showing a bit of your brand’s personality. Invite them with a subject line that offers a taste of who you are.
Catchy subject lines don’t have to include witty sayings or humorous approaches. Catchiness simply implies that the subject line is appealing to the audience. The quicker you can convey the value of your email (or even the value of your business to your reader), the more effective it will be. To convey value:
- Be specific with dates
- Indicate exact savings (15% off, buy-one-get-one, etc.)
- Be benefit-oriented (“Save time with…”, “Get the fitness results you’ve always wanted” )
Direct and simple is the way to go when trying to get more readers to open your emails.
Examples of Catchy and Effective Email Subject Lines
Direct Email Subject Lines
The direct subject line is the most common and generally serves as a simple title for the email. Whether the email is an alert, reminder, announcement, etc., the direct subject line is clear and unambiguous. The following are examples of direct email subject lines for small businesses:
- Preliminary Floor Plans for Southern Village Neighborhood Circle Members
- Idlewild Camp – Important Travel Information
- 10% Storewide December 1-18
- Nautica in Rutland Opens Next Week! What You Need to Know.
While these types of subject lines aren’t the most creative, they can cover a variety of situations and are highly effective.
Teaser Email Subject Lines
The teaser subject line entices people to open an email through tactics like rhetorical questions, pressing commands, or friendly suggestions. The following subject lines would fall under this category:
- Can you resist this deal?
- Our first giveaway…
- We’re bonkers over this new tool
All of these examples are playful and personable. While teaser email subject lines are fun and interesting to experiment with, they are often more difficult to craft than the alternatives. Teaser email subject lines are often hit-or-miss, and whether or not they are appropriate depends on the audience, your message, and your brand personality.
Quantifying Email Subject Lines
Including numbers in your subject lines can be highly effective. The numbers allow readers to quickly identify the value they’ll get from reading your email. Here are a few examples:
- 3 Tips on Losing Weight
- 5 Ways to Grow Your Business
- Hidden Money: 17 Markets That Pay
- Take 5 Minutes to Improve Your Sleep
Many audiences may like to evaluate how long it will take them to read the email before opening it, and how much they’ll gain from it. While this strategy can be applicable to several target markets, audiences that may benefit the most are those who are pressed for time, and those most in need of quick solutions. Numbers are good for sales and promotional email subject lines for holidays or sales.
Urgent Email Subject Lines
Subject lines that convey a sense of urgency are usually used for promotional purposes. These subject lines include topics of scarcity or time limitations. Here are examples of promotional emails with urgent subject lines:
- Last chance for your discount!
- Sale from now through November
- Buy now; limited supply only
When crafting an urgent subject line, it’s essential to avoid language that recipients will mistake for spam email. Words to avoid include “free,” “percent,” or “reminder.”
While urgent subject lines are generally direct, you may even be able to spur some curiosity with a touch of a teaser element.
- Five days until the big reveal
- Only 2 more hours…then the secret’s out!
- Last day to save big…
Trending Email Subject Lines
Trending email subject lines make use of the popularity and relevance of current events to grab attention. They make use of seasonal subjects, hot-button issues, and popular trends. For example:
- “Holiday merchandise is in!”
- “The World Cup ends but our savings don’t!
- “New iPhone Visual Voicemail”
Subject lines that refer to trending topics allow small business owners to use external events as leverage. Catch people’s interest by alluding to hot topics in your emails, then grab their attention by mentioning the topic in your subject line.
Different types of subject lines will have varying results depending on the message you’re trying to convey and the audience you are targeting That’s why it’s essential to understand your target market and nail down your message before crafting an email subject line that will appeal to and interest them enough to open the email. Then, leave your recipients without regrets and to keep them opening more, keep your subject lines as consistent as possible with the body of the emails. Finally, understand the impact that different types of subject lines will have on your brand’s personality so as to choose the right one for both your company and your message.
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