Crafting Email Subject Line for a Win: definitive framework to better conversion

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Not a lot of people understand the powerful impact of a good, well-framed subject line. Open rates greatly depend on effective subject lines. This blog will discuss what makes or breaks a subject line and how we can craft one for better engagement and conversion.

Table of contents

Why do you need to pay attention to your email subject lines?

Email marketing plays a vital role in generating ROI and building a loyal customer base in digital marketing. The very fact that email marketing helps in acquiring customers makes it an integral part of a digital marketing campaign. But putting together good email copy, taglines, call-to-actions, and images in an email campaign isn't enough. Research has proved that a good and well thought out yet short and to the point subject line for introduction emails increases the open rates and helps boost your email campaign ROI.

What are the best practices for writing effective email subject lines

1. Focus on the usage of the character

A lengthy subject line will be hidden on mobile devices, so you won't be able to read more than six words on your mobile device. This impacts the email open rates. Thus, keeping the subject line short and crispy increases the email opens chances of up to 33%.

Research has shown that many of us open emails on our mobile devices rather than desktops. It was also analyzed that most people open emails with subject lines ranging between 6-10 words. Although it is advisable to keep your subject lines between 6-10 words or less than 90 characters, you shouldn't restrict yourself to numbers while framing the email, and the value of the words matters more than the number of words used.

2. Add a personal touch

Adding a personal touch to everything gives it a unique advantage, and the same goes for subject lines. In email marketing, adding the recipient's name in the subject line or adding subject line emojis gives a personal touch to the email campaign itself. This gives your customers the notion that you care for them. Birthday and special occasion subject lines with a unique customer-centric touch work wonders.

3. Be specific with your words

Word restrictions won't allow you to have an elaborate approach. By the word 'specific,' we don't mean word count restrictions; instead, you should be specific about your message and the words to be used while conveying that message to your audience. Your usage of specific words will make you stand out from your competitors. Choose your words wisely. If you could speak your customer's language in the subject line, it is a plus.

4. Urgent and appealing tone

Before writing a subject line, always write a maximum of 4-5 variations before finalizing the perfect subject line.

  • Using urgency as a cognitive bias while selling or conveying your message has always worked in the marketing world.

  • Using words that indicate urgency in your subject line increases the open rate.

  • Using words like "hurry up," "time is running," "discount is getting over" induces urgency in the minds of the readers, thus increasing the click rates.

5. Add a call-to-action

Include a call-to-action in your subject line if the need persists. This will give your recipients a fair insight into the content in your email before they decide on opening it or not. "Click to avail our latest offer just for the existing customers" is a simple call-to-action subject line example. Always make sure not to use the "no-reply" word in your subject line business email.

6. Test your subject lines

Running A/B testing is a must before sending out any email campaign. It is always recommended to test your subject lines to zero down on that one effective subject line for your campaign. It will give you an insight into your recipients' preferences, which will boost your campaign reach.

How to write a winning email subject line?

At this point, you’re probably feeling discouraged. If a low-scoring email subject line is outperforming fancier ones, how can you possibly turn best practices into email subject lines that get emails opened and lead to email recipients acting on that email?

The bad news is that you won’t be able to figure it out without learning more about your audience and what works for them.

The good news is that you can make this learning process go smoother by looking at best practices through a wider lens:

  1. Start with context
  2. Identify approaches that are likely to work
  3. Create a list of subject lines
  4. Choose the best ones based on a pre-publication checklist
  5. Keep testing and optimizing

Decision tree to determine the context

Before you write a single subject line, you need to be clear on the context and the goal of your email.

Whether you’re inviting newsletter subscribers to join a webinar, sending a re-engagement email to existing customers, or asking new customers for feedback, this information will help you decide how to frame the email to get the most opens.

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Worksheet to generate email subject line variations

Some email marketers simply create lists of email subject lines. And if that works for you, good for you!

But sometimes, it can be harder to break out of the mold. When that happens, adding a little more structure to your email subject line brainstorming process can help.

Using this worksheet can help you focus on using a specific type of hook (CTA / question / curiosity-driven hook) and combine it with the “Why should I care?” angle to create an email subject line that is more likely to deliver, especially since you’ve already established the email context.

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Here’s how we used the worksheet to work through some subject line options for our email experiment:

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Once you have a list of headlines, it’s time to run them through a pre-send checklist and eliminate the ones that are less likely to work.

Pre-send checklist

To whittle down your list of email subject lines, run them through this checklist:

✅ Does it show why your readers should care?

✅ Does it provide enough context for the subject line to make sense?

✅ Does it sound like it creates work for your readers?

✅ Is the subject line connected to the email body?

✅ Does the subject line tease the email body contents?

✅ Does the subject line work within the context of your audience?

✅ Does the subject line follow the character length best practices?

✅ If you decide to make the subject line longer than the recommended character length, does it break in a potentially cringe-y way (this has been known to happen)?

✅ Same for the preheader/preview text copy.

Wrapping up

If you want to stand out in the race and increase your open rates, focusing on your email subject line is necessary. The next time you start writing your subject line, make sure to keep these tips and tricks in your mind to convert worthy subject lines for your email campaign.

Customer-centric marketing ensures a loyal customer base and good ROI. Email Marketing is amongst the limited marketing channels that can be completely personalized. So, use your subject lines wisely as they can make or break your business.

Have other tips to add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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