The perfect subject lines can be elusive beasts. You spend hours carefully crafting your email, only to draw a blank when it comes to subject lines.

The trouble is there’s just too much pressure. You know subject lines are the deciding factor of whether your email gets opened, but finding something relevant that entices the recipient can leave you pulling your hair out. You find yourself lacking in inspiration – especially when you’re restricted to just a few words to grab attention in an overcrowded inbox.

To make your life that little bit easier, we’ve put together our top tips on successful subject lines…

Get personal and be direct

The subject of personalisation is hotly debated but we think emails that are personally addressed, often do the best. This doesn’t always mean using someone’s name – it can simply mean addressing the recipient directly with words such as ‘you’ and ‘your’. If you do have your recipient’s name then don’t be afraid of using it – emails including a first name generate a 14% higher open rate (DMA, 2014). Just make sure your data doesn’t include any errors if you do include your recipient’s name.

Make it relevant to their last action

Transactional emails such as confirmation, receipt and dispatch emails receive an almost universal open rate (Experian, 2014). There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the effect of a transactional email by making your email relevant to their last action – as long as the content is relevant and the subject line isn’t misleading. Great examples of this are subject lines which include the name of the last product they purchased or even simply ‘Your recent purchase’.

Make it mobile friendly

55% of emails are opened on smartphones now (Litmus, 2016) so it’s essential your email reads well on a mobile device. This means keeping your subject lines short – email clients on mobile devices often only show the first 40 characters or less (including spaces!).

Email power words

There’s a lot written about ‘email power words’ but put simply these are the words that are often thought to excite and entice the recipient to open your email. These power words introduce offers, sales or something new. Great examples of power words include ‘introducing’, ‘new’, ‘alert’, ‘news’, ‘% off’, ‘free’ or even phrases that give a sense of urgency such as ‘ends tomorrow’. Don’t forgot to spam check your subject lines as certain words can also be used by spammers who have also cottoned-on to the success of these phrases.

Be brave

Sometimes it’s worth taking a risk. If you find yourself sending out very similar subject lines each time then your emails will soon get lost and recipients will get bored. Be brave and occasionally experiment with something they won’t expect. We recently received a piece of circular mail in the office that simply stated on the envelope ‘You won’t open this letter’. It made us open it because we were intrigued, amused and wanted to know more – it’s just human nature. It’s risky but it captures attention.

Get emotional

Displaying an emotion always triggers a reaction – this is true for real life and the inbox. Playful expressions such as ‘Eeek’, ‘Oooh’, ‘Yippee’ and ‘Psst’ capture attention and make your subject lines a little more endearing. You may have also seen an email from ASOS with simply ‘Psst… I expire at midnight’ – we loved this as it combined a little cheeky excitement and urgency.

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