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6 Simple Subject Line Tips for Boosting Email Open Rates by Megan Totka

Email marketing open ratesYour email marketing messages have a lot to compete with. Some estimates state there are more than 144 billion emails sent every day—and while your subscribers aren’t receiving all of them, just about everyone with an email address suffers from information overload. The right response isn’t for you to stop sending emails. Far from it (In fact, some tests indicate a possible response is to send more emails).

No, what really matters is this: How do you get your email marketing message to stand out?

It turns out that one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase your email open rates is to write better subject lines. They’re the first things your subscribers see, and if you can grab their attention while they’re scanning their inboxes, you’ll get more eyes on your actual content—and ultimately, more conversions.

These simple tips will help you craft subject lines that snag more clicks.

Short and Sweet

Long subject lines tell subscribers more than they need to know about the contents of the email. Usually it’s enough to suggest that they ignore the message, or just delete it unread. A short, snappy subject line stands out better and heightens interest.

Another advantage to short subject lines: More people are reading email on mobile devices. If you can keep your subject to one line on a smaller screen, your click rate will improve.

Avoid Waste Words

You don’t have a lot of room in a subject line. This is premium screen real estate, so every word should count. This means avoiding words that don’t add value to your message—they’re just taking up vital character space.

Skip greeting words like “hello,” and empty descriptors like “amazing” (these can also land your messages in spam folders).

Pinpoint Your Message

A great subject line is both short and specific. Cramming every detail into a subject line results in subjects that are too long and not compelling—but going too far in the opposite direction is also no good.

Teasers and mystery subject lines won’t engage readers, who are pressed for time and don’t want to guess at what might be in your email. They want to know what to expect inside, so they can decide whether or not to keep reading.

Make the Subject Searchable

Even with a compelling email subject line, your subscribers may not be able to open your message right away. They might want to read it later—but with high volumes of email coming in, your message could get buried.

Make it easy for readers to find your emails by including memorable, searchable terms in the subject line.

Anxiety-Free Calls to Action

Your subject line should let readers know what they can do to receive a benefit from your message, in a way that doesn’t demand their attention.

Including a brief call to action—visit our site, contact us, or read this message—tells readers how they’ll be able to take advantage of your offering. However, using urgent language like “immediate response needed,” signals that you don’t respect the reader’s time, and won’t get your message viewed.

The Bottom Line: Write a Subject You’d Open

Email is a primary form of business communication, and it can be a powerfully effective marketing tool when used correctly. Your subscribers don’t want to stop reading email completely—they just want to be able to sort the intriguing from the annoying.

Writing subject lines that would make you as a consumer want to read the contents will help you improve your email marketing open rates, and run more effective email campaigns.

How do you write your email subject lines? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in more? Register to receive a free copy of Tim’s special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image Credit: Darrel Rader on Flickr

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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