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Improving Email Open Rates: What Makes the Best Email Subject Line?

October 2017

subject_lines.pngWalk away from your desk, make a coffee, come back as little as 10 minutes later and your inbox will have filled with unread emails. Your prospects face this same challenge every day; meaning that any emails you send to them goes through the same rigorous screening processes you use on your own inbox.

Making your prospects take that extra step and actually open your email means standing out from the crowd and making a good first impression.

Email subject lines play a crucial role in determining how many of your prospects will stop and take notice of your communications, rather than just scrolling right on past. A great subject line will allow your prospects to best judge the content you have inside and decide if its worth their time and attention.

So, what makes a good email subject line?

While email subject lines are often relatively short, there are several different components which can make or break their success. We consider five different components often found in top performing subject lines:

  • Urgency

Communicating urgency and scarcity in an email subject line can help compel your prospects to take that next step and to take it now. Phrasing your message with phrases such as ‘act now’ creatively and strategically means you can increase your open rates but make sure you have the content to back up this sense of urgency as after such a compelling subject line, unengaging content seems will be a let-down to your prospects, and may discourage them from opening in the future.

  • Curiosity

Maintaining an air or mystery can be effective in piquing your prospects natural curiosity and interest. Giving them just enough information can often prompt them to continue on to open your email because they simply can’t resist finding out more. These subject lines must walk a fine line, too vague and you don’t capture their interest, while also running the risk of being perceived as spam. Too far the other way and you run the risk of giving the game away. Either of these extremes will result in poor email open rates.

  • Offers

These kind of subject lines clearly outline the benefits of opening an email and engaging further. Your prospects can be tempted to learn more by alluding to the idea of free or discounted high value offers. These offers can range from your latest whitepaper or ebook  right through to a no strings attached proof of concept. When you let your prospects know how much they could potentially gain from interacting with you, you can make your email stand out in what might be a full inbox.

  • Personalisation

A well-maintained database will contain a wealth of information on the prospects you are trying to target. Put these insights to good use and tailor the emails you send to the recipients you intent to read them. Segmentation and personalisation is standard email marketing best practice but this shouldn’t end with the body of the email. Everyone appreciates it when a little extra effort has been put in on their behalf, so let your prospects know from first glance that the email inside has been written just for them.

  • Send from a person, not a company 

When your prospects are considering opening an email, they often check to see if they know the person sending the message. An email from an organisation may be quickly disregarded and marked as advertising spam, which will imminently get your email allocated to the junk folder or deleted without a second thought. An email that comes from an individual that works in your company is more personal and much more likely to be opened.

By increasing your email open rate, you increase your chances of having meaningful interactions with your prospects and more importantly you increase the likelihood of having a conversation that provides the opportunity to sell or close a deal.  Writing great content for nurture opportunities, whilst trying to close warm leads can take up a vast amount of time, to save some of your most precious resource we created our Sales Email Follow Up Template Pack.


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Download our email template pack to makes sure your email content is just as effective as your subject line. 

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