19 and a Half Killer Email Subject Line Tips & Examples

Published: 16th April 2009
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The email subject line is the pivotal factor for whether or not your readers will actually open and look at your email. It essentially works in the same way as the title of a book or the headline of a news story. If you don't put enough effort in coming up with the right choice of words, chances are your email will end up in the trash bin.

Remember this: if you don't make an impression with your first few words, your readers will not bother with the rest of your message. Studies show that only the first 45 characters of the subject line grab a reader's attention. It is therefore crucial to spend some time developing and testing your subject line.

Here are several easy dos and don'ts to keep in mind as you begin to work on your email subject line.

DON'T

• Don't let the subject line be too general.

• Don't forget to state the benefits for the reader.

• Don't allow your subject line to sound like the spam emails that are going around.

• Don't overlook style. Your subject should be like an advertisement - clever, informative and to the point.

• Don't include any punctuation (particularly exclamation points and question marks).

• Don't use the word "Free". Instead, say "Gift with subscription."

• Don't capitalize whole words.

• Don't use too many commands, such as "Get," "Open," "Buy," "Save," or "Respond."

• Avoid "Hi" and "FYI".

• Never decide on your subject at the last minute before sending your email.

DO

1. Be specific. Remove the fluff and don't beat around the bush. Simply state what the email is about.

2. Keep It Short (preferably between 40-60 characters).

3. Use Upper Case On The First Letter Of Each Word - just like that. However, MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT USE ALL CAPS as this will get your email labeled spam faster than you can click a mouse button.

4. Make readers aware of specific benefits - "How To Write An Effective Business Plan".

5. Convey your message clearly and direct to the point - "Three RSS Tips You Need To Know".

6. Use trigger words like "New", "Limited", "Exclusive", "Download" etc. People are always on the look out for a good deal or to be part of something special.

7. Push reader action by generating a sense of urgency - "Final Chance To Grab Your Exclusive Spot".

8. Let it headline the contents of your email newsletter.

9. Run your subject line through a content checker and replace common spam words.

10. Test different subject lines to identify your best performing keywords.

11. Top 10 Lists: There's something so attention grabbing about top 10 lists (or top 7, 13, or whatever). Quick, bite-size information is preferred by most readers. A smart list delivers more value than endless paragraphs, even if they contained the same information.

12. Compound Topics: Combine as many topics, brands, or product names into the subject line as possible. This way something might grab the reader's attention. In order for this strategy to work, it's important to keep the subject line scan-friendly by breaking up the topics. A good way to do this is by using symbols like the "+" sign - "New Nike + Reebok + Adidas Shoes!" vs. "New Nike, Reebok, and Adidas Shoes".

13. Use Special Characters in order to communicate ideas and create eye magnets. Below are some suggestions:

• New Cameras = Great Gifts

• Super $avings on Cameras

• { New Cameras, get Them Now }

• New Cameras @ YourCAMS.com!

14. On Question Marks and Exclamation Points: You can use question marks and exclamation points creatively to spark curiosity and urgency among your subscribers. - "50% Off All Widgets?!"

15. Suggest solutions: As an alternative to placing product or brand names in the subject, consider subject lines that are solution oriented. For example, a site selling anti-Spyware software might consider using a subject line like "How to get rid of Spyware Forever" rather than a product oriented subject such as "Brand New Spyware Software Released."

16. Invite eager anticipation: Subject lines that leave readers hanging with an ... (an ellipsis) suggest there is a continuation of the topic within the body of the email. An example of this might be "Checkout these new cameras..." or something similar.

17. Use the Recipient's Name: Let's face it; we love to hear our name. Adding the recipient's name to the subject line provides the impression that the message is personalized for them. However, avoid this tactic unless something in the email is personalized for this individual. People can easily recognize that without personalized content, their name on the subject line is just an automated gimmick.

18. Be witty: Depending on your target audience, make your subject lines witty and humorous to put a smile on your readers.

19. Don't Be Gimmicky: If your subject line is "How to Live Forever" and the content of your email is offering a new alternative health supplement, your readers will eventually see through your gimmicks. Be intriguing, but do not go overboard with your promises.

And here is the half idea. We said half because it is not really an idea but a statement with a string of questions at the end.

When you write your subject lines, you basically have 3 choices:

1. Share the news or make an announcement. "EK shows affiliates how to write killer subject lines".

2. Bring out the curiosity of your readers. "EK gives affiliates this secret marketing strategy..."

3. Emphasize the benefit of opening your email to the readers. "Discover tips for writing subject lines that will increase your affiliate sales."

Out of these 3 techniques, you will always be most successful if you write subject lines that state a clear benefit and tell the reader exactly how they are going to save money, save time, make their life easier, etc... by opening and looking at your email.

By stating a benefit and at the same time attracting their curiosity, the chances that your readers will open your email will improve. "Discover this proven marketing strategy that will increase your affiliate sales!"

The key to writing effective subject lines is to emphasize benefits by considering your product or service from your customers' point of view...

Will your readers benefit from reading your email?

What will your readers gain from your message?

Will the product or service save them time?

Will it save them money?

Will it improve the lives of your readers to some degree?

The subject line is too important to be set aside for the last minute. Don't let your spouse, kid or intern decide on it. Your subject line is the single most important element that will determine the success rate of your email promotion. So, spend the time constructing the best subject lines you can come up with.

Continuous testing of your subject lines can easily double your open rate success within months and that can lead to even more desirable results. Keep track of your delivery, click, and conversion rates on your email promotions and by just playing with a few words, you will see an improvement on your sales. It is therefore worth repeating: spend the time improving your emails' subject lines.
About the Author:
This article is written by Serhat Pala ,a serial Internet entrepreneur and president of www.Testcountry.com and Emil Kara the multimedia designer for NTD Architecture and the design consultant for GBSS online stores including www.PrintCountry.com


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