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How to Create Email Subject Lines That Will Increase Open Rates

Email continues to be a very strong digital medium for customer targeting, as it plays a major role in mid- and lower-funnel tactics. Its greatest advantage is its quick turnaround, cost effectiveness and ability to precisely track engagement of customers.

Given its cost effectiveness, email can help marketers reach a larger, targeted audience more frequently and accurately because it is a direct and addressable format. Some of the tools that help grab a reader’s attention in email are the sender’s name, the email preheader text, and most importantly, the subject line.

Creating the right subject line

To ensure a higher open rate, your email subject line needs to be catchy and attention grabbing. There are multiple attributes of the subject line that can make it attractive to your customer. These attributes can be grouped together in the following acronym CURVE.

  1. Curiosity – Subject lines with a capital letter or that end in a question mark or exclamation point can lead to curiosity
  2. Urgency – This is generally used at end of a sale period with phrases like “Last day,” “Final Hours,” “Hurry!” and “Ends Soon”
  3. Relevance – A subject can include a direct or personal launch announcement, product claim or other phrases like “Thank You,” “Exclusive", “For You”
  4. Value – Creating incentives like freebies (free shipping, sample, gift with purchase), discounts ($ off or % off), rewards (reward, bonus, offers, sweepstakes)
  5. Emotion – Using either personalization or emojis can help strike the emotional content for the subject line

Email subjects

The Importance of A/B Testing

Apart from the above, the length of the subject line may also be a factor to consider, depending on your brand. Remember, the first important thing about email is for the subject to prompt a response to open it. Using the levers above, you can test subject lines over a specified period with A/B subject line tests and make a decision about which subject lines work best for your customers. To ensure a clean test, there should not be other tests running simultaneously, for instance, testing the body of the email. No one rule fits all, but testing subject lines is key to getting a higher email open rate. Additionally, the subject line should be relevant to the email content to optimize its engagement.

However, the subject line does not stand alone. You should test other factors that can affect email open rates, such as how different sender names and pre-header text variations impact email opens. If an email is going to be resent, the subject line, pre-header and preview text should all be updated.

Although the subject line is the most visible, one misunderstanding that marketers often have is only considering open rates when it comes to subject line. The end goal of email is always going to be conversion and revenue. Attracting relevant and lower-funnel customers is a means to that end, so subject line effectiveness should be measured by conversions in addition to opens.

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