The first thing a subscriber sees from you is the Subject line. It is imperative that a subject line catches the attention of your subscriber and compels them to open your message. Below are eleven email subject line best practices to keep in mind when you are trying to capture your audience’s attention.

1. Stay Away From Spammy Words/Phrases

If you use words like Free, Act Now, Limited time offer and overuse special characters like !!!, $$$ and …! Your message will not even make it to the inbox for your audience to see.

2. Be Careful to Avoid Spelling Errors or All Caps

Misspelled words can often look like you are avoiding spam filters for “spammy” words and will be caught anyway. When you use all caps in your subject line, your recipients can interpret your message as aggressive. Remove all caps to be polite and friendly.

3. Use a Subject Line Referring to the Most Interesting Subject in Your Message

Since your subject line’s primary purpose is to capture user attention, feature your most compelling topic first. If your email has multiple subjects, first run subject line tests with a subject line for each of the different subjects in your email. Once you determine what subject garners the most interest to a sampling of your list you can use that Subject Line on the remainder.

4. Subject Line Lengths Do Matter

Often the shorter the subject line the more opens you get. However, the opposite tends to be true with Clicks. This is another subject line test you may want to run to see how your subscribers will respond. For example, B2B emails do better with 20 words (less than 80 characters), whereas, B2C do better with 6-10 words (less than 50 characters).

5. Personalization Is Extremely Effective

Users respond to and engage more with personalized emails, and there are many options for creating that experience. Rather than using a first name, you may consider using the region or the area they are in. Seeing the City/County name often catches their attention creating a feeling of importance.

6. Brand Your Messages

Create a subject line that will tell the reader who you are as well as what to expect when they open the message. For example, always using the words {Your Brand} Bulletin and then what subject they will encounter when they open. Another option would be to use the words {Your Brand} Bulletin as the friendly From Name leaving the subject line to tell them what subject they will encounter when they open.

7. Test Test Test!!!

The best way to know what works for you and your subscribers is to test everything! First, send your messages through spam filter tests. There are quite a few Subject Line/Content Testers available. For example, Email on Acid, Litmus, 250ok and Return Path are great tools for testing your email subject lines. Finally, pull out a small sampling and perform an A/B test. Create two or more subject lines and determine a winner using the winner for the bulk of your send. Testing against filters, as well as a sampling of your subscribers, will help you get the most out of each send.

8. Ask Questions

Using questions in your email subject lines is one way to pique a user’s curiosity and get your communication opened. They want to know or provide the answer, so resist the temptation to offer your own response in the subject line.

Keep the questions aligned with the content. Using a subject line like, “Sue, which is your favorite fall sweater?” and then including body content about your latest swimwear sale is out-of-sync messaging.

9. Create a Sense of Exclusivity or Urgency

Though there are few universals about customers, there are two common truths about people — everyone likes to feel special, and no one wants to feel they missed out on something big.

Use language in your subject lines that promotes an elite impression. Phrases like “reserved for our best customers like you” or “your private table for two awaits” work well to foster the idea that the customer belongs to a small group that gets better benefits.

Wording that implies a limited or time-bound deal encourages the customer to act immediately. Use expressions like “before it’s gone” or “only 10 in stock” to spur that action while moving away from spammy language.

10. Take Advantage of the Power of Numbers

Surprising statistics or definitive claims catch eyes, as do subject lines that begin with a number. Phrases like “lose 10 pounds next month” or “the average student loan debt is $30,000” are more compelling than mentioning your new weight loss supplement is on sale, or you tutor students to take exams for college credit and prevent larger loans.

11. Use Humor and Emojis Sparingly

Like special characters like exclamation points, a subject line riddled with emojis is likely to experience deliverability issues since it looks like spam. Some email clients may not display emojis correctly, either, which can make your emails hard to interpret.

The ideal subject line length poses challenges for humor to come across appropriately. Consider including a clever pun or short joke only when it’s essential to your message or branding.

SparkPost Knows Email

When it comes time to optimize your emails for performance, deliverability and profitability, trust the experts at SparkPost. Discover how to keep your communications hitting inboxes instead of junk folders by speaking with one of our specialists today.

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