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Posted on 07.11.2017

6 Subject Line Tips for Boosting Email Open Rates

Are stale subject lines hurting your email marketing campaigns?

You have been told for years not to judge a book by its cover. But what about not judging an email by its subject line?

Unfortunately, subject lines are often judged harshly, as most emails are going unopened. MailChimp found email open rates in some industries are as low as 15 percent, meaning up to 85 percent of your contacts are not reading your email content.

 Simply put, it does not matter how much time you spend curating intriguing content, writing a compelling story or designing an eye-catching graphic for your email marketing campaign if the majority of your contacts never open your email because of a flat or uninteresting subject line.

 So how can you change your approach to boost open rates? Try incorporating one of these six techniques into your next campaign to create an engaging, interesting and open-worthy email subject line.


1. Ask a question to prompt a search for the answer inside the email. When a question is posed, people naturally seek an answer. Conveniently, that answer lives inside the email you just sent, meaning they must open it to find the answer. 


Example: Is your hospital prepared for hurricane season?


Pro Tip: Avoid click bait by keeping your question relevant to the content presented in your email.


2. Incite curiosity or intrigue with a statement, statistic or testimonial. What powerful statistics or interesting fact have you recently learned from a case study or project? Leveraging a personal testimonial or data from a project or program you offer can make your email content more intriguing and lead to higher open rates.  


Example: How one clinic grew 35% year over year by using Facebook


Pro Tip: Avoid making false claims or use language that may be deemed spammy by email filters. 


3. Address your recipient by their first name. Inserting a personalization token in the subject line to address your reader by their first name makes your email more inviting and personal, which boosts open rates. Personalization tokens come standard with most email service providers (ESPs), although the nomenclature and process for inserting the token may vary by provider.


Example: Jessica, here’s what you need to know about the proposed AHCA changes.


Pro Tip: To make the most of this feature, your data needs to be clean. If you don’t have a contact’s first name, you can set a default name, such as “friend” or “colleague”. Keep your default token in mind when forming your subject lines to avoid potentially awkward sentences.


4. Call out important information in brackets. Using brackets to highlight important words, such as [VIDEO], [FREE REPORT] or [CASE STUDY], help your subject line stand out from the crowd while being very clear about the content of your email.


Example: [CASE STUDY] Facebook Advertising Campaign Increases Clinic Visits by 35%


Pro Tip: Experiment with using brackets at the beginning and the end of your subject line to see which option results in higher open rates. 


5. Remember that emojis aren’t just for texting. To stand out in an inbox, include a relevant emoji, such as a timer for a limited-time offer or a camera to promote a new video. Include the emoji at the beginning, lest it get cut off by a lengthier subject line.


Example:   Watch our CEO, Dr. John Smith, interviewed by Dr. Oz!


Pro Tip: Outlook desktop inboxes will display emojis in black and white, which can be slightly more difficult to read. Choose your emojis carefully for desktop clients.


It is important to keep in mind that the subject line itself is just one component influencing open rates. Time of day and brand recognition are among other influential factors. However, none of the other factors matter if the subject itself is dry. Experiment with a variety of subject lines and styles by using your ESPs A/B testing feature to determine which type of subject line works best for your audience.


Jessica Hopson is an Account Supervisor at Lovell Communications. Connect with Jessica at jessica@lovell.com

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