Is there really an art to writing subject lines? It’s an important question to ask whenever you’re preparing to send out an email. Especially now, in 2021, where the number of emails being sent out have risen as people across the world are either working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic or eager for a hiring manager’s attention.
To make sure your message is viewed, writing a good subject line is key. It may even be more important than the email body itself as it often determines whether or not someone will read your message.
To really make an email stand out, knowing how to grab the attention is one important aspect. However, understanding the psychology behind why people open an email is a totally different story. A great newsletter or email offer is worthless if it does not see the light of day after all.
Here are some essential tips to write subject lines that grab people’s attention:
Keep it short, simple, and focused
Most people check their emails only twice a day and usually right before heading onto a task, which means they scan their inboxes very quickly. Any email that isn’t important is left to be checked at another time. Unfortunately, those emails get pushed down the list by newer emails and the process repeats.The clearer and more concise your subject line is, the better. It’s much better to use a simple, easily understandable language as opposed to a complex and creative language.
Thinking about how the email benefits your readers is a good start. You’d want to make the benefit as clear as possible without any distractions. For example, ‘Increase your click through rate by 35% with this one simple step’ is more compelling than ‘How to increase your click through rates’.
Mention the most important words in the beginning
Business Insider reports that ‘a whopping 50% of emails’ are read on mobile phones. Many people have their phone’s display settings at their own comfort level, and you may never know how much of the subject line will be displayed on their screens. Thus, it’s important to mention the most important information before anything else to avoid having them cut off.
Add keywords that match ‘Search’ and ‘Filtering’
Many new, updated email clients have features to sort emails automatically based on their subjects. Gmail does this very accurately by separating ‘Primary’ emails from ‘Promotions’ or ‘Updates’ for every new user.Most working professionals also have their own filters and folders set up to manage their emails and probably won’t focus on your message if it isn’t work related, which is why it can be useful to include common keywords related to a topic, so it shows up on search results later on.
Highlight Values and Offers
When sending an email to someone you do not know, you will need a subject line that communicates the value people are going to get out of it. Pique the reader’s intertest by offering them something that is helpful, or something they really may be interested in. Your research of your target audience will come into play here.Whether you’re giving a discount, service, or an opportunity, make it clear in the subject line what’s in it for them.
Personalize with recipient’s name or company name
You have to know who you are sending the emails to, and they have to recognize that it affects them directly. Using their name or company name is one of the best ways to personalize emails, making it much more likely for them to open your emails. For example, ‘Increase Company sales by 35%’ can be changed into ‘John, here’s how you can increase your sales by 35% over your competitors’.
Indicate if a response is necessary
People will be looking for keywords that tell them if they really need to read email now and respond to it. If you need a response, say for a questionnaire, survey, or important information about a client, indicate it in the subject line with ‘please reply’, or ‘thoughts needed’, or any keywords prompting them to take the action.
- Add deadlines if necessary
Experts say that including a deadline right in the subject line drastically increase the odds that readers will respond. For example, you could say ‘Please Confirm by End Of Day’ at the end of your subject line.
Create urgency by limiting timeframeTo persuade someone to reply, grab someone’s attention by creating a deadline for what you are offering. Common ways of creating urgency simply include ‘respond now’, ‘register today’, ‘limited availability’, or something like ‘only 10 seats available!’.
Spark memories for a better chance at getting openedThis works best if you have met the recipient, had a phone call, or exchanged emails before. Mention that in your subject line to remind them about your interactions. In follow-up emails, be sure to reference your past conversations. This helps your receiver to remember who you are or continue from where you left off the previous time.
Add a CTA (Call To Action)This is especially helpful if you’re sending a marketing email. Emails that promote businesses, offers and discounts, or services should be focused on taking an action, or else the email is going to be worthless. Communicate it in the subject line by allowing the reader to know how they can make a use of the particular email. Use action words like ‘Buy Now’, ‘Get your quote now’, ‘Claim your rewards’. Do make sure that your email body consists of links to send your recipient to a next step, like a landing page or social media, or else the email will simply be promising a false claim.
Writing subject lines isn’t complicated. It only requires knowing the level of importance of different kinds of emails to people. It isn’t necessary to use all of the tips above for one specific subject line, that would practically be impossible. Rather, try to match your email body with your subject and use whichever tip most fits your purpose.
Different emails are sent out for different reasons after all. For example, a marketing email may consistently use CTAs and numerical data for offers, while work emails may often use keywords that are searchable.
It is, however, highly recommended to keep your subject line short, to the point, and clear with simple languages.