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5 Tips for Writing Professional-Level Subject Lines…

Between swiping through Instagram stories and sending direct
messages on Twitter, you’d think we’ve forgotten about email. However, couldn’t
be further from the truth. Email has been around for decades at this point. In
fact, it remains one of the most popular strategies among B2B marketers,
offering nearly
Marketing emails need strong subject lines to be effective. Since
47% of newsletter subscribers decide whether to open an email based on the
, you’ll want to entice them to click. This means promising
valuable information without giving too much away.
This is no simple task. However, here are a few tips to help you
start crafting attention-grabbing subject lines — no copywriting experience
1. Be upfront about what you’re offering.
Sometimes it pays to be straightforward. Rather than luring email
recipients with an open-ended question, let them know exactly what they’re
going to get. Try telling the recipient
in store once they click on your email
, and make sure it’s something
they’ll benefit from.
Customers don’t care about what your email is offering — they just
want to know how it’s going to benefit them. If your email subject line doesn’t
hint at something useful to them, why would they open — let alone read the email?
let’s face it, people love discounts. Research has shown that people say their

for subscribing to newsletters is to receive discounts and special offers.

Take a look at the following example from

The email subject line offers two things:
1) convenience (“Do less laundry”)
2) a discount (“get 20% off!”),
All while keeping it short and sweet!
Recipients will appreciate that the subject tells them exactly
what they’ll get from opening this email. If they can easily understand how the
email will directly benefit them, they will be motivated to click.
2. Don’t make it too wordy—or too short.
When it comes to the length of your newsletter subject line, there
is a sweet spot. A
by analytics firm Retention Science
saw that email subject lines
with 6-10 words yielded the highest open rate at 21%. Subject lines with five or
fewer words saw a drop to a 16% open rate, and those with 11-15 words saw 14%.
So while you certainly don’t want your subject line to be too long,
you also don’t want it to be too short — especially if shortening it
hinders your ability to make it come across naturally. Here’s a great example
of a subject line within the ideal word range:

This subject line does a great job intriguing its core audience—marketers,
social media managers, and others who spend a lot of time on social platforms
for work. They may take pause and ask themselves, Should I be hitting
‘pause’ on my posts?
It engages them because it hints at something
potentially useful, but it also doesn’t give away so much information that they
don’t open the email.
3. Personalize it to make customers feel special.
Making customers feel important is one of the key
in writing a solid email subject. A simple way to do this is by
incorporating your recipient’s name into the text of your subject line. The
same Retention Science study as in the above example noted that emails with the
recipient’s name in the subject line saw more clicks than those without a
name — 18.3% as opposed to 15.7%.
Take a look at this example from MediaBistro:

Including the name of the recipient, Holly, reads naturally and
helps make her feel important.
Which would read better: the above example, or simply “Get your
$20 course”?
By including the recipient’s name and addressing that they are
giving her “one more chance,” the subject line appeals to their fear of missing
out — an
psychological factor
in driving business.
4. Pique curiosity with a question.
Don’t be afraid to directly involve
the reader
by posing a question they’ll want to know the answer to. Email
subjects that pose questions automatically elicit a response from the
Additionally, people like to feel validated. If your email subject
asks a question they feel like they know the answer to already, they’ll feel
compelled to click to be proven correct. As this
article from
Mequoda puts it, “In many cases, the reader already thinks they know the
answer, and your headline is merely feeding their need for affirmation. Take a
look at this example:

Business owners who receive this email may think that they know
where other businesses are spending money — but they’d want to click, just to
make sure.
5. Make it timely, urgent, or both.
Conveying a sense of urgency in your subject line is one of
for writing click-worthy subject lines. By communicating urgency,
you’re making the recipient feel like they need to click.
How do you make your email
subject line sound urgent? A simple way is to align it with an upcoming event
in the recipients’ lives. Look at the following example:

You’ll note that the email was sent on December 20th — just five
days before the Christmas holiday, when many are scurrying to buy last-minute
gifts. By presenting an easy option for a “quick gift” they likely need, the
subject line is both timely and urgent. If it makes sense for your brand,
topical and timely subjects are a great way to encourage click-throughs.
As the person sending these emails, you have a significant benefit
on your side — you’ve been on the receiving end of them, too. Take note of the
promotional and marketing emails you receive. Which subject lines did you
respond to? There are plenty of places to find inspiration for writing a
professional-level email subject — and they’re sitting in your inbox.

Author Bio: Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing
Services at
, a B2B
marketing agency. Ryan helps medium and large brands improve sales and market
share by developing integrated marketing experiences distinguished by research,
storytelling, engagement and conversion.
For more information on Campaigner, please visit

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