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Steve Isenberg

How to Create Snazzy Email Subject Lines

Posted on: January 4, 2018

By: Steve Isenberg

As the New Year starts, you may consider a new marketing campaign. But if your marketing emails disappointed you last year, don’t give up yet. Instead, evaluate the subject lines of those emails.

When a marketing email from your company lands in recipients’ inboxes, the first thing they see is the subject. That subject line can make readers do one of two things with the email: read it, or not. So if your open rate has not performed as well as you hoped, try some of these ideas from FitSmallBusiness.com and Entrepreneur.com.

  1. Numbers and lists. A subject line like “5 Ways to Recruit Better Talent” promises the article inside the email will be helpful and easy to read.
  2. Emojis. FitSmallBusiness.com quotes Morgan Mandriota, creator of Hawk+Pearl, who says emojis work in emails because few companies do it, and thus they stand out. Mandriota has noticed that her company’s “open rate is higher than it would’ve been without” the emojis.
  3. Seasonality. Your readers are thinking about the holidays. They want emails relevant to their thoughts. So focus your email subject lines on a special time. For example, around Thanksgiving, you might send out an email with the subject, “How to Give Thanks at Work.” Or in the midst of winter, try, “Cold Calling in Cold Weather.”
  4. Keywords. FitSmallBusiness writes, “Studies have been done to determine the right keywords to increase open rates of emails.” Do a bit of research to find the keywords right for your business, your locale, and your clientele. If you can’t find anything, do the research yourself with A/B split testing to see which words generate a response from the recipients.
  5. Time – A theme which has many aspects. You can use the subject line to tell people you won’t waste their time with a long or useless (to them) email. You can also use it to create a sense of urgency: “Learn These New Employer Laws by Year’s End to Stay Legal.”
  6. Surprise. Angela Zade, a marketing campaign manager, calls this “the shock & awe factor.” Joe Montgomery, a VP of marketing, says, “Use words that they wouldn’t expect to see in their inbox.” Don’t be dishonest in portraying the contents of the email. Instead, be creative in your word choice for the subject line. Zade uses “a sharp verb or a word in all-caps” or “poetic lines.” Montgomery urges, “Choose words and phrases that are colorful, descriptive, and a bit unusual.”
  7. Intrigue. If you tell the recipients everything they need to know right in the subject line, there’s no point in them opening the email. Tell them just enough to get them interested, so they need to open the email to get the answers.
  8. Trust – this is a big one. Know your audience. What value do they want to get from your emails? DJ Waldow on Entrepreneur.com writes that subject lines may not matter that much when your recipients trust you, your business, and your emails. He continues, “If your audience is confident that your emails deliver value, they should open them regardless of the subject line.”


Don’t let new opportunities get away from you this New Year. Take advantage of email subject lines to increase your open rates. Talk to ASJ today about building a comprehensive content and email marketing campaign.



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