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Do Your Email Subject Lines Stink? Here Are 9 Ways To Fix Them


Email subject lines are a big deal. Scratch that. They’re a HUGE deal.

If you want prospective customers (and existing ones) to open your emails, you need strong subject lines that grab their attention. 

Think of email subjects like they’re headlines in a newspaper or links on a newsfeed. People see a ton of them every day; to get your email opened, it must deliver a compelling message that’s relevant to the audience and provides value

Keep your sales pipeline filled with these nine tips to write email subjects that demand attention.

  1. Use A/B testing: There’s only one way to figure out what works and what doesn’t: Try it out! A/B testing is often overlooked as a way to check the effectiveness of one option over another. Test different combinations of email subjects to see what works best. You may, for instance, find that “How To” type subjects get clicked on more than interrogative ones.

  2. Keep messages simple: Use fewer words to communicate more information. As a general rule, keep email subjects engaging, yet simple. Don’t try to communicate a convoluted message, force cleverness or use sensationalism. You shouldn’t need to trick readers into opening an email.

  3. Offer valuable content: Make sure your subject lines indicate the value within the message. Then follow through on your promise in the subject line by providing content that’s meaningful and relevant to the recipient. Don’t overpromise and don’t under deliver. 

  4. Keep mobile in mind: Don’t forget that at least half of the people who see your emails view them on a mobile device. Formatting with the mobile reader in mind is imperative. It’s worth the extra legwork on your end to ensure you don’t lose a mobile reader due to a formatting issue. 

  5. Language and style matter: You must know your audience and what they’ll find appropriate. When a customer relationship is in its beginning stages, it’s probably best to stick to a formal tone and style. As the relationship progresses, you may have the opportunity to use more casual language, but don’t risk alienating a lead from the beginning. 

  6. Know spam trigger words: Before your emails are opened, they must be seen. Excessive punctuation, capitalization and particular words (see an industry-specific list here) trigger spam filters. 

  7. Segmentation is your friend: What works for one group of people doesn’t necessarily work for another group. You might have the coolest email subject line in the world, but if it doesn’t speak to the type of user you’re trying to attract, it won’t matter. 

  8. Shorter is better: Subject lines must be short. Keep them between 50 to 70 characters (including spaces). This isn’t just about being succinct; it’s about readability, too. If the subject is too long, it’s going to get cut off, and that may cause frustration or annoyance that costs you clicks. 

  9. Body copy counts, too: Just like with subject lines, the content of your emails must also be formatted properly to engage readers. When writing the sales copy in your emails, it’s important to keep it short, accessible and easy to read. 

The Tellwise Nutshell (TTN): Write your email subjects like you’re a newspaper editor. Ensure messages are tight, clear, meaningful and provide value to readers. Don’t use sensationalism to grab attention. Instead, get your emails clicked on by writing intriguing, compelling copy. Good subject lines are just the beginning. Make sure you’re backing that up with solid, well-formatted sales copy in your email body.   

Want even more sales tips? Contact Tellwise today for a free trial of our prospecting software.

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