14 Apr, 2016
Remember the early days of email, where people actually had to connect to the Internet, boot up their AOL account and hear the familiar voice say:
“You’ve got mail!”
Email has evolved into an incredible communication medium but there’s one big, glaring challenge. According to Fortune Magazine, the average person receives 147 emails per day. Competition for your subscriber’s attention is alive and well.
So how do you get people to take that extra step in actually opening an email? If a first impression is everything, then you have to lead with a great subject line.
Subscribers usually ask themselves one question – will opening this email be worth my time? Elements like familiarity to the sender name can often have an impact but, much of the time, the subject line is the determining factor.
Here are nine examples of subject lines that we found interesting. They’re all tied together by one common factor – see if you can guess what it is (we’ll tell you at the end.)
1) “Happy Birthday Mary – Surprise Inside!”
It’s no secret that personalized marketing is effective. Emails that include the first name of the recipient in their subject line have higher click-through rates than emails that don’t.
Not only is Mary’s first name included, the email comes on almost everybody’s favorite day of the year – their birthday. This email contains a double dose of subject line goodness.
2) “What are our customers saying?”
“Right place, right time” should be the motto of email marketers. When someone is further down the lead nurturing funnel they’re more receptive to hearing customer testimonials. In fact, they may even be looking for them.
I received an email with this subject line late in the lead nurturing process. The body of the email contained a bunch of case studies that were meant to help me purchase the product.
3) “Where to Drink Beer Right Now”
Imagine being a beer lover and getting this email at 6:45 PM on a Wednesday evening. You’re just over hump day and want to decompress. Right before you head out of work, you get this email with this subject line. Absolutely genius.
This goes to show you that subject lines are only as effective as who they’re sent it to. Think about who is on your list, and how timing will affect how people perceive your emails.
4) “You’re missing out on points”
Have you ever heard about FOMO? It’s an acronym for “fear of missing out.” In our hyper-connected society, this is a pretty big deal.
You can use FOMO effectively in your subject line to engage with your email subscribers. I received one from Air Miles that was not shy about letting me know that I’m missing out on some points. They know that naturally, people don’t want to miss out on good things, especially if they could save time or money.
5) “DO NOT Commit These Marketing Atrocities”
Being negative in your marketing can actually be a good thing. Most people get anxiety about looking silly. Figure out how you can use those emotions in your subjective line.
In this example, instead of using the typical contraction “don’t,” the writer of this email subject line spells it out in full and adds the all-caps for effect. That way, you’ll notice the subject line in your inbox and won’t be able to resist.
6) “10 Engagement Tips to Gobble Over Thanksgiving”
I’m a sucker for punny things – see what I did there? 🙂 – If I get a pun in an email subject, I pretty much always open it.
Think about ways you can spice up your emails with jokes and puns. Puns let your company loosen up a bit. But don’t go overboard or you’ll sound insensitive and lose your audience.
7) “Buffer has been hacked – here is what’s going on.”
Sometimes, you just have to be direct and concise with your subject line. A while ago, Buffer got hacked, which is every tech company’s worst nightmare. But Buffer handled it well. In the spirit of their candidness and openness, they let everyone know that they were taken things seriously.
This example is worded and formatted to sound like Buffer is calm and collected, and that they care about your personal safety. No puns. No exclamation marks.
8) “Thank you!”
People love to be recognized and acknowledged for something they’ve done. That’s why when someone thanks to me, heck yeah, I’m opening that email.
This example was actually a one dollar extended trial offer of a product I was trying for free. It was a great way to start by thanking me for trying out the product and proceeding in offering me with a deal
9) “[WEEKEND ONLY] Get this NOW before it’s gone…”
Subject lines that communicate urgency and scarcity tell readers that they must act now. This is a great example of a flash sale subject line. It’s a combination of urgency through limited availability and an element of mystery.
But be careful as excessive use of these can lead to list exhaustion. Use this sparingly and only when there is a real deadline, limited quantity or availability.
The one thing that ALL these subject lines have in common
The cool thing is, all of these subject lines have ONE thing in common.
Each of these subject lines tell me what’s inside of the email. People scan the subject line and make an instantaneous decision about reading the content. They quickly answer the “is this worth my time” question by being simple yet compelling enough for us to stop and take a look.
If the subject line is on point with something users are interested in right now, the magic happens and the email gets opened. If the subject line is on point but I’m not ready right now, then you’ve made a really positive brand impression. If the subject line is off point, people just won’t open it. If the subject line is click-bait and not aligned with the content… the sender is on the road to deletion.
Subject lines that cut through the clutter yet tell you what’s inside are the gold standard. Make sure yours are up to the challenge!
Interested in more practical email tips you can use to improve subscriber engagement, delivery rates, opens and click-throughs? After sending over seven billion emails across more than 35,000 campaigns, we’ll give you our best tips and tricks to power up your email program in our free Developing a Great Email Program Whitepaper.
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