5 Email Marketing Subject Line Tips That Work NOW

Thursday, August 20th, 2015
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If you’re in charge of your company’s email marketing campaigns, then you understand how critical it is to have a strong subject line. If customers don’t open your emails, you certainly aren’t able to win their business! Inboxes are highly competitive places! Marketers are getting savvier, and many subject lines that worked magically in 2013 are probably not hitting home runs anymore, as more and more companies have copied the hottest methods. Here are five ideas that are working right now.

1. Use personalized subject lines, and not just customer names. Multiple studies have shown that using a customer’s name in subject lines has proven to accomplish a higher open rate. Perhaps we all just want to see our name in lights? For whatever the reason, it has shown to work. However, if you’ve noticed that doesn’t work for your crowd, or maybe it doesn’t work any longer, don’t throw the personalization concept out. You might also consider personalizing based on purchase behavior, or other interests. In a nutshell, this is really about targeting, and communicating that targeted effort through your subject lines. For example, I frequently browse and buy active wear at Nordstrom, and I appreciate it when they send me emails that advertise new products from one of my favorite brands, Zella. I am ten times more likely to click on an email that says, “New styles from Zella” or “New active wear” vs “New fall styles.” Here are some examples:

a. Anna, we have brand new styles from Theory
b. Check out these men’s athletic shoes in your size
c. Five New Zinfandels to Rock Your World!

2. Quote a popular movie or song. Of course, this has to go with your brand and customer base. But fans of that song/movie can’t resist but to click! They wonder, “Why is this company quoting my favorite movie [or song]?” It’s so mysterious, and I want to know the punch line!

a. I just met you, and this is crazy. Here’s 10% off (After signing up for emails)
b. First Rule of the Wine Club: You DO NOT TALK about the Wine Club. (After wine club signup)
c. My name is Gladiator. (Who knows? I loved that movie, and I want to find out!)

3. Use numbers in the subject line. There has been a lot of evidence showing that subject lines containing numbers convert better. Lists also work very well, so you might combine these two for a double-impact subject line.

a. $5 Shipping through Friday
b. Our Top 10 Gifts for New College Students
c. Buy 5 Bottles, Get 1 Free Sale!

4. Capitalize on the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). When I see little scarcity probes in my inbox, I panic a little inside! I do a mental check to see if there’s anything I need from that merchant to allow me to take advantage of that deal. Personally, I think these are my favorites.

a. Hurry! Stock the Cellar Sale Ends Tonight!
b. This Chardonnay is Selling Out Fast!
c. Final Hours to use your 10% off Coupon!

5. Use symbols or be extremely short. We explained how to use symbols in subject lines in another blog post, so please check that out if you don’t know how to do it. But this is all about attracting visual attention in a crowded inbox!

a. It’s been a while. We still ♥ you! Take $5.00 off Your Next Order
b. Yes. We are crazy.
c. A few seats left for this Friday’s ♫ Festival

May the force be with you.

Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about helping people and businesses thrive.