Many authors will tell you that the most difficult thing about writing a book is coming up with the title. In just a few words, you have to come up with something that both sums up what your story is about and catches the eye of a potential reader so that they’ll pay enough attention to pick up the book and read a bit more.
Obviously, emails are not books, but many of the principles of writing remain the same, especially when you’re talking about titles – or in this case, subject lines. Think about it. Just like with a book title, the subject line is the only thing your intended reader can usually see. It is your “cover,” and in fact, you’re at a disadvantage when compared to a novel because many of them have amazing artwork that also entices people to read.
Good subject lines have to stand out from the dozens or even hundreds of other emails in a person’s inbox, but they also can’t just be shouting nonsense – your intended reader has to be fairly clear about what he or she is going to get when they click on the email. So, how can you do this? Luckily, we have several surefire ways to write effective email subject lines.
Short and sweet
No one wants a subject line that’s a paragraph long, so only include the information that needs to be there. You’re not giving a blow-by-blow of the email, just a preview. Summarize the main point of the message.
DON’T USE ALL CAPS
Yes, it seems like a great way to get attention, but don’t do it. In writing, all caps is usually interpreted as yelling, and no one wants to be yelled at. Plus, in email writing all caps has come to be associated with the worst kind of SPAM.
Emphasize the benefits
This one is especially important if your email is offering a product or service of some kind. You want your customer to know, for example, that they can lose up to 10 pounds in a week, or save time on their morning commute. As briefly as possible, lay out why someone should read your email.
Lay off on the hard sell
If your email is advertising a sale or launching a product, it can be tempting to write things like “Don’t lose out on the best sale ever,” or words like “must act now” and “free.” Unfortunately, those kinds of subject lines often end up getting caught in SPAM filters. On top of that, they don’t really tell the audience anything – what’s on sale? How much are people going to save?
Keep your tone consistent
An email selling something can be a bit more salesy than an email that simply provides information such as a newsletter. Always remember that your subject line should reflect and summarize the email.
Ever had the President of the United States send you an email with your name in the subject line? Or the head of a big company or organization write directly to you? In some ways it can be strange, but research has shown that people are about 64% more likely to click on personalized emails, making it well worth trying.