How effective is your email marketing? There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to email marketing success, and subject lines are definitely up there in importance.

How Much Do Subject Lines Really Matter?

At a time when social media seems to be taking over communications, does email even matter anymore? The answer is a resounding yes.

According to a recent report, 73% of marketers consider email marketing core to their business and 92% report email marketing either directly or indirectly produces ROI.

And if you’re doing email marketing, your subject lines play a starring role in your success. If your subject line fails, then your email campaign stops dead in its tracks: No opens means no one will see your message inside, which means no one will click through or respond… and you see where we’re going with this.

Crafting Stellar Subject Lines Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

So how can you craft more effective subject lines to give your email marketing efforts a boost? Here’s our top advice:

  1. Pay attention to your own behavior: Yes, you’re a marketer, but you’re also marketed to. As you go through your inbox (both at work and at home), pay attention to what catches your eye. Are there any particular subject lines that compel you to open something right away? Or any that you immediately trash? In both cases, ask yourself why and consider how you might be able to mimic (or avoid) that phrasing in your own activities.
  2. Make use of past learnings and conduct A/B testing: What resonates well with your prospects? Listen to what they’re telling you! Look at past emails you’ve sent to see which subject lines performed well and which ones didn’t and see if you can identify any patterns. Along the same vein, conducting A/B testing with subject lines can also provide powerful insight into what your prospects respond to in their inboxes. In general, you should always see what the data reveals.
  3. Look for opportunities for personalization and exclusivity: We all want to feel special, and finding ways to personalize subject lines and make them feel exclusive can go a long way toward doing just that. Whether it’s using prospects’ names or titles in the subject line or branding something as “exclusive” (if it is — see tip #7 below) or “just for you,” that seemingly little touch can make your email feel like the opposite of spam that goes to everyone under the sun.
  4. Create a sense of urgency: Once your email hits an inbox, it’s only a matter of time before it gets buried in a sea of unopened mail — Inbox 129, anyone? Who has time for inbox zero? In short, the longer it sits there, the less likely it becomes that someone will open it. Give your prospects a reason to open it right away by creating a sense of urgency.
  5. Keep it simple: This lesson should really apply to everything you do — if someone doesn’t immediately understand your message, they’ll move on to the next thing, be it an email or anything else. With that in mind, make sure that your subject lines are clear and easy to understand, even if someone is just skimming (because there’s a good chance they are!).
  6. Think of it like a title: As marketers, we typically put a lot of effort into writing compelling titles for blog posts, pages on our website, you name it in order to catch people’s attention as they scroll through their social feeds and even as they scan search results. The process of crafting an email subject line should be no different, and the same best practices (e.g. using numbers or surprising statements, injecting the reader into the mix) should apply too.
  7. Don’t mislead: Don’t tell prospects you’ll give them an iPad for opening the email if that’s not really the case. This might seem obvious, but it’s not always this black and white. For instance, bringing us back to tip #3 above, don’t market an event as exclusive if anyone can register and attend. If you apply the exclusive label to an event, it better be because only a certain number of people got invited or you have to meet certain qualifications to attend.
  8. Be yourself: Find your brand’s voice and stick to it. Are you snarky, funny, technical? Whatever it is that defines your brand, make sure that it comes across in your email subject lines. Being yourself and being consistent with that voice can help prospects easily identify which emails are yours and help you stand out from the pack in that crowded inbox.

Well, there you have it: Our top tips for success in creating email subject lines. Last but not least, remember that whatever approach you take should have some serious thought behind it. Those 50 or so characters might not seem like a lot, but they carry an incredible amount of weight.