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5 Subject Line Hacks to Increase Email Open Rates

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. It’s a wise idea, but unfortunately it’s easier to say than do. It’s human nature to make split-second decisions, which actually helps us move through life with ease. When you consider that the average American makes 35,000 decisions a day, it’s not hard to understand why simplification is essential for survival.

Gut instinct is a self-preservation skill that has evolved into a welcomed life-hack. So when it comes to email it’s no surprise that’s exactly what we do too. So how do we make this quick decision? It all comes down to the power of your subject line with 33% of us deciding which emails make the cut in less time than it takes to blink.

Given the importance of a powerful subject line, it’s no wonder that the very idea scares even the bravest marketers. It’s a lot of pressure, but that little sequence of words can make or break your campaign. As email marketing junkies, we’ve seen our fair share of subject lines and here are our top 5 tips to nailing the art of the subject line and breaking new open rate records.

1. Stand Out from the Crowd

Did you ever notice how when you’re scrolling through your inbox, every email looks more or less the same? Trying to find a particular message in the sea of email can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. So dare to be different! Get creative and use your subject line to you’re your email stand out. Think of character selections, symbols, and using extra spaces between each character if your subject line is short to really give it a boost.

Double spaced subject line characters

2. Speak to Your Reader Like Your Friend

When you scan your inbox, have you ever paid attention to which emails you open first? The ones from friends and family of course because you know they’ve been written just for you. People like feeling special and personalization is an old trick, but a good one. Try including their name, their location or perhaps something unique and unexpected in that subject line. Just make sure you’ve got their name right because there’s nothing worse than sending Bob’s email to Bruce.

3. When You’re Lost for Words

Everyone loves pictures even at 16×16 pixels. The world of emoji’s opens the door to adding interesting, weird or unique images right into your subject line. Consider adding one to your next subject line to give it some personality or if you’re feeling adventurous, try letting them take over. Before you get too excited, it’s worth remembering that compatibility is important. We recommend double-checking first to ensure you don’t find yourself sending the perfect email with an unreadable subject line.

Emoji's in Subject Lines

4. You Say it Best When You Say Nothing At All

Imagine if we didn’t have a subject line at all. Maybe a simple period or hyphen for an air of mystery. It’s a pretty bold move, but with some powerful pre-header text you’ve got a great opportunity to really stand out with minimalism. This controversial move is not for the faint of heart, but could be worth a one-time experiment. If you’re feeling bold, don’t forget to check your analytics to see how your readers feel about this technique and if it’s feasible to consider ditching the subject line altogether.  

5. Add Some Laughter to Their Lives

We’ve got to divulge a little secret. Some of our favourite subject are random and funny. So now every week we look forward to seeing what’s arriving next. A fun play on words or a pun can engage your readers, add a sprinkle of positivity to their day, and if you’re lucky, buy you a few precious seconds of their time. The downside of this approach is to remember to exercise restraint and know when you’ve really nailed it and when you haven’t. Because trying to be funny when you’re not is well… a recipe for disaster.

Subject lines are both art and science rolled into one. With a limitless number of ways to slice them, the key takeaway is to test, test, and test some more. Breaking away from the crowds is a smart move, but figuring out exactly how your audience will appreciate your efforts is something that only you can do. Delivering the unexpected is a great way to delight your audience and build their loyalty. When considering how you’re going to approach your next subject line, think about the big picture – from the subject line to the from name to the pre-header text – to send your open rates skyrocketing and get even more eyeballs on your genius content.

Chris Bentley
Author

Chris Bentley

Media Producer that wants to light the world on fire with video... or at least save you from too much reading. Without his camera, Chris spends his time rounding up two young children or distracting them with video games.

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