How To Create Subject Lines That Capture Your Reader’s Attention

How To Create Subject Lines That Capture Your Reader’s Attention

Getting your subscribers to open your email instead of just deleting it is a difficult task.

But it doesn’t have to be!

Here are some tips to help you capture your audience’s attention and hopefully increase your email open rate!

subject lines that capture

Make it 50 characters or fewer

The ideal subject line is short and to-the-point. 

It shouldn’t be longer than 50 characters for best results.

The job of the subject line is to get people to open the email.

It doesn’t have to tell the whole story.

Not only is a long subject line boring and difficult to read, but it will also be cut off beyond a certain point in many of the most popular email clients.

That’s not to say it should be too short either.

While extremely short subject lines, even single words, can sometimes be effective, it’s usually best to keep it in the middle of these two extremes.

Avoid hype

These days our inboxes are full of promotions, all screaming for attention and promising big discounts and unbelievable deals.

What happens when we’re constantly bombarded with messages like these is that we get blind to them.

That’s why, when you’re writing your subject line, you should try to avoid hype.

When it comes to subject lines, it’s not the person with the loudest voice that gets his emails opened…

It’s the person that actually has something interesting to tell.

Reveal something about the content if possible

If at all possible it can help open rates greatly if you include a taste of what the recipient will find inside the email.

This is especially true if you’re sending out a newsletter.

Consider the difference between this:

The Fashion Newsletter, July 2019

…and this:

Bold colors, crazy hats & vintage dresses (The Fashion Newsletter)

The latter tells the reader a little bit about what to expect inside the email, and as such, it is much more likely to actually get opened (that is, of course, assuming the reader has any interest in bold colors, crazy hats or vintage dresses!)

Don’t be afraid to be controversial

People love controversy.

They’re drawn to it, and if you can include a hint of it in your subject line you can bet on getting some great open rates.

Don’t overdo it though, and remember that the actual email content still has to live up to the promises made in the subject line.

Numbers and lists

Lists are everywhere these days.

Sometimes it seems you can’t browse the web for five minutes even without stumbling into an article that promises “10 ways to do this” or “3 best methods to do that”.

The reason is simple: people click on them.

List articles are easy to digest, and there’s something about the number in the title that draws attention to them.

Just as this works when writing articles, it also works when writing emails.

If you can write a subject in the same style you have a good chance of getting some great open rates.

Questions instead of exclamation marks

Lots of exclamation marks in your subject will instantly tell the recipient that you’re trying to grab their attention, and their automatic response will likely be to ignore you.

On the other hand, question marks have often been proven to increase open rates.

Asking a question in the subject line can be extremely effective because it often looks genuine and personal.

Try using scarcity techniques

Scarcity techniques have been used since the dawn of marketing, and they still work to this day.

People don’t like to miss out on things.

Which is why they often respond very well to subject lines that tell them they “only have 24 hours to act”, that there is “only 14 copies left” and so on.

These techniques should be used in moderation though.

And you should never lie just to create a scarcity effect.

Don’t tell people that they only have 24 hours to act if that’s not true, or you’ll completely ruin their confidence in you.

It works best when used sparingly and only in situations that call for it.

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes

If you were one of your readers, what would you like to see in your inbox?

What would grab your attention and have you opening the email instantly, and what would prompt you to send it straight to the trash?

Maybe your “ideal” subject line would go against some of the advice given in this post.

If that’s the case, the solution is simple: just try it.

The worst that can happen is you’ll get low open rates, in which case you’ll just try something else next time.

Split test

Theorizing is one thing, but the easiest method to find effective subject lines is simply split testing it.

This works for every type of email that you send out in bulk, and most email list services have features for this built-in.

For example, you could send subject line A to 25% of your newsletter subscribers, and subject line B to another 25%.

When you’ve seen which of them that gets the best response you just take that one and use it for the remaining 50%.

The downside is that this requires a reasonably big list to work, or the sample size will be too small.

Ready to implement these tips but want the whole marketing package to grow your business? 

One of the key pillars to my Nurture Facet program is Email Marketing 101, a 3-pronged approach to build your list with copy, design and delivery strategies. 

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