When it comes to sending emails to your list, one of the biggest things business owners get hung up on are the subject lines… And for good reason. Your email could be the best email on Earth, but if your subject line doesn’t pair well, then it won’t even get opened.
This begs the question, “But how do I write better subject lines?”
Setting Expectations – Set Realistic Goals
Before deciding the best approach to optimizing your subject lines, it’s good to know a few baseline pieces about email open rates in general. According to MailChimp, the average email open rate is about 21%. It varies across industries from as low as 16% in e-commerce to as high as 26% for arts and artists.
The first practical step to increasing open rates is assessing where they currently are in relation to your industry standard.
Expecting a 100% open rate just isn’t realistic because your audience doesn’t live on their phones 24/7 (but that can actually be a good thing… Keep reading.)
Once you know what YOUR industry standard is, then you can put a few techniques into practice.
And before you can decide which subject lines are best for your audience, there are a few things to pay attention to.
How to Increase Email Open Rates
Before crafting incredible subject lines, it’s important to figure out the who, what, when, where, and why of email.
Who – Define your audience.
What – What does your audience want to hear from you?
When – When is the best time for YOUR audience to get emails?
Where – Where is your audience when reading emails?
Why – Why should they open?
Answering these questions comes with a solid understanding of your ideal audience.
Because when you know who you’re talking to, you can create an experience that optimizes every aspect of your email marketing process.
Let’s put it into practice with an example.
Target audience – Working mothers who want to start an online business to spend more time with their children
If my target audience are working mothers who want to escape the corporate world for a better family life, then I need to ask a few questions.
When would she be checking her email and where would she be? – That’ll tell you WHAT TIME to send emails. And as a busy mom, she’s most likely checking her emails in the morning before she begins her busy day in the kitchen with her morning coffee or tea.
PRO TIP: Take into account time zones as well. If you’re on the pacific coast and send your email at 9am, then you’re missing out on a multiple of people in other time zones.
What would she want to hear from me? – Inspiration, motivation, actionable tips on moving forward, balancing new endeavors with work and family
Why should she take action (aka open the email)? – She has built some sort of rapport with me already via a free resource or on social media and now we’re continuing that relationship via email.
Once you’ve answered the above questions, it’s time to start collecting data. You can do this a few different ways.
1. Competitor research
What are your competitors sending and what do their subject lines look like? You’ll need this information to compare to your own audience.
2. Audience analysis
It’s a good idea to check your open rates and note which subject lines encouraged the highest open rates and which garnered the lowest.
It’s not enough to just not use that specific subject line again, but you need to assess WHY it didn’t work or WHY it worked so well.
Improving Subject Lines for Higher Open-Rates
After you’ve done your research and have gathered the best and worst open-rates for your subject lines, it’s time to start implementing more of what works for YOUR specific audience.
Let’s start with general tips to increase your open-rates:
- Keep it concise – If people can’t read the entire subject line from their phones or computers, then there’s less of a chance they’ll open it.
- Use personalization – If you’ve collected your audience’s first name upon opting onto your list, then be sure to use it. It builds a stronger connection to your audience.
- Use split-testing – If your email marketing platform allows, try using split-testing for your subject lines to find out what kind of subject lines your list responds well to.
- Use numbers or specificity – People love tips and quick wins or breakdowns. If you’re giving them tips over something, be sure to put that in the subject line.
- Answer FAQs – If your audience is continuously asking the same questions, make sure to let them know in the subject line that you will be answering it in the email.
- Use urgency – If you’ve got an offer that’s expiring, be sure to let your audience know.
- Use an open loop subject line – Open loop subject lines urge the reader to open the email to close the loop. Here’s an example: “I quit.” The subject line is short, but it opens the loop and encourages the reader to open, so they can find out why you quit, what you quit, etc. Humans are curious by nature, and they typically need to find out why.
- Use emojis – Emojis are a powerful resource in this new era of email. It keeps the email casual (kind of like a text message would feel).
- Ask specific questions – Combine personalization with questions. Think about the target audience’s goal… For example: “Do you want to learn how to build a business, Sarah?” Because my audience is filled with people who want to build a business, they’re more likely to open the email.
- Avoid too many exclamation marks and all capital letters – These emails tend to look a bit spammy to the reader AND the email platform. This is an easy way to get thrown into junk.
Need another blog to help you with your email marketing strategy? Head here to check out my 5 tips to better increase your email management.
About The Author
Rachel Gogos is a multi-passionate entrepreneur with a strong desire to help people by creating strong personal brands and businesses. She’s personally launched dozens of books, e-products, and services; and hundreds of products and services with her clients. She started her career at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, where she helped create the look and feel for the organization’s first website.
Today, in her current role running brandiD, Rachel channels over 15 years of marketing and communications experience into each and every website for brandiD’s clients.
And check out her book, Build Your Brand: The Distinctive Guide to Soul-Based Marketing. It will help you uncover your personal brand.