5 Ways to Craft a Killer Subject Line

Increase your Email Open Rates

Christina Hagopian  /   Jan 26, 2018  in  Design + Business    
how to improve your email open rate

Your graphics may be gorgeous and your messaging seamless, but no one will see either—or find out how incredible your product is—if they don’t open the email you just sent them.

A subject line needs to be intriguing enough to pique interest but relevant enough to deliver on its promise. An enthralling subject line might make your open rate skyrocket… but if it’s irrelevant to the email itself or your product, your click-through rate will plummet.

Here are five tips to make sure your subscribers are opening
—and reading—your email.

email subject line

1. Keep it short and focus on WIFM (what’s in it for me?!)
Subject lines are like handshakes—they should be short and direct, not long and awkward. Approximately half (and sometimes more) of your audience will open your email on a mobile device, so try to keep subject lines around 40-50 characters. You also want to hook the audience in with your offer or promotion, enticing to learn “what’s in it for me,” to read?! Reel them in with persuasion.

Tweet: 54% of email opens are on a mobile device. @hagopianink #emailmarketing #mobile

2. Don’t forget preheader text!
Preheader text is a short text summary that appears immediately after the subject line in the recipient’s inbox. It can be used to elaborate on the subject line or to share other important messaging that doesn’t fit into your subject.

Your preheader and subject line are the first two things your subscriber will see, so make sure you’re making good use of the space!


3. Incorporate special characters and other devices—but use them wisely
Numbers, caps, punctuation, symbols and emojis all increase open rates, but don’t use them all at once or you’ll trigger spam filters.

Emojis in particular are gaining popularity as a way to make a subject line stand out; according to Experian, 56% of brands that use emojis in subject lines see increased open rates. Alliteration and rhyming are also fun ways to switch up your delivery.


4. Include personalization—occasionally
Incorporating the recipient’s name into a subject line is an excellent tactic to increase the sense of connection or urgency. But don’t overuse it; like all devices, it can be rendered ineffective if used too frequently.


5. Test, test, test
The only way to find out what subject lines work best for your audience is to test. Before sending an email, generate a handful of different subject lines and then narrow it down to two.

Once you’ve figured out what your subscribers respond best to, you can start incorporating those elements (and experimenting with them) more frequently, ultimately increasing your open rate, click through rate, and overall engagement.


For more email tips, take a look at How We Learned The Secrets to Effective Email Marketing, an article I wrote for Forbes Magazine.


Got some tricks and tips of your own? Share them in the Comments box!

Christina Hagopian

Creative Director and President Christina Hagopian is known for her hands-on, approachable and meticulous approach, becoming a trusted resource to her clients, collaborators and contemporaries since launching Hagopian Ink in 2002.Christina holds a BFA in Communication Design from Carnegie Mellon University. With 20 years of experience, Christina is an active and well-respected contributor to the New York City design and entrepreneur communities.

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