How to write high open rate email subject lines that get you sales
Low open rates? It might be your sales email subject lines. We’ve gathered expert advice and tips on how to boost and measure your open rates.
Are you guilty of cranking out subject lines with only one goal in mind: getting recipients to open?
Of course you want them to open your email, but writing subject lines is much more involved. You’ve got to do more than just write variations on your messaging strategy—you’ve got to be strategic with every word.
Remember, the real value comes from email recipients opening, clicking through, and then converting. You can get a lot of people to open your email, but if your subject line doesn’t correlate with your email body and the call to action (CTA) on your site, you’ll just waste everyone’s time.
When it comes to buzzwords in your subject lines, the key is not to think of off-the-wall language, but instead the everyday words that trigger a response from your readers. Use the following as a jumping-off point to discover what works best for your recipients.
These seven words will get you started, but use the idea in each section and run with them by adding your own spin that is specific to your industry and audience.
Words that signal danger work well to get the attention of the human mind. There’s always another type of danger with this word—that it’ll be off-putting because it can sound a bit click-bait-centric. Of course, this is often a pitfall of email subject lines, but you simply need to know your audience.
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‘If’ is a powerful, yet simple two-letter word in its ability to imply consequence so easily. Something will happen as a result of your adherence or non-adherence to the word if.
The word “if” instantly connects your readers to the future, which is an effective method considering you have a max of about a dozen words to capture attention.
If you eat this one thing daily, you’ll have more energy
Your college loans will be forgiven if the legislation passes
We’re all looking for something—the next career move, the love of our lives, the answer to a burning question, the thing that will break up the monotony of our routines.
The word ‘find’ implies discovery, and it works well with any marketing message.
Example: Find your missing ROI solution with our pricing optimization software.
Who doesn’t like something new? New features, new product offerings, new takes on old styles, new sales—even a small bump in the design of an iPhone works to convert potential Apple customers every September.
If you’ve established your brand and offerings with a consistent history of releasing exciting new items, adding the buzzword ‘new’ to your email subject lines will be powerful. However, if you’re a new company—pun intended—you won’t necessarily get traction. Don’t spoil the effectiveness of announcements by overusing them, either.
You’ll never believe this new bronzer
New styles mean a new you
Showing gratitude is something every customer can get behind, but don’t reduce the gesture to a tired ‘Thank you for being a customer’ platitude. This is more than thanking them for making a purchase; you need to tie your drip campaign thank-yous to a specific action by the user, such as being a customer for a year.
We wish we could say thanks 365 times
This email is the smallest part of our thanks to you
Anyone can make a claim or set a goal, but executing on it is the real difficulty. So everyone wants to know how things are done.
The word ‘how’ sets up a person to wonder what they don’t know and what knowledge you’ll share with them. Even if it isn’t 100% relevant to their situation right now, learning how something is done is at a minimum interesting.
The best thing about the word ‘how’? I might be able to get what you have if I repeat your process. No guarantee, but I’m one step closer just by taking in the knowledge, and maybe I’ll get to deploy it when it does become necessary.
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If you pay attention to people for just a moment when you’re explaining anything, you’ll notice they always ask why—even when most of the time you’re discussing a personal decision.
When people know why, they’re more likely to reply with what you’re asking. Without a why, people see little reason to comply. But when you explain something and they truly understand, you’ll see a rise in your response rates. People inherently seek out logic, so provide it.
This toy is essential because your dog will learn more commands
The three words below are hardly the complete list of words that you shouldn’t use. People can, and have, try anything in email subject lines, but gimmicks don’t work anymore. Each of the three-word examples below make readers feel like they’re being deceived, and they should be avoided.
We wish we didn’t have to mention the use of the word ‘free’, but it is still commonly used. Whatever value the word did have was erased a long time ago by As Seen on TV advertisements.
Too many brands advertise something as “free” but still require you to enter credit card details or commit to a contract in exchange. Because this word is so overused, many readers gloss over it assuming they’re being roped into some scheme.
If you’re truly offering something free and valuable to your email list, of course let them know. But make sure you’re not damaging your trustworthiness when you use this term in a subject line.
Buying is a process, not something to push too hard. Customers usually move down a sales funnel quite slowly, and one sure way to lose them is to rush them.
This doesn’t mean you don’t want to create a sense of urgency; do it as the subtext, or perhaps in the CTA when you mention when a deal will expire, but not in the subject line of your emails.
This trick was originally implemented to make your marketing email look like a more personal exchange. It used to work, but now it’s just a good way to rack up unsubscribes. In fact, you’ll probably get immediately labeled as spam, without even an unsubscribe.
We’ll take a moment right now to drive home one point: marketing is now about adding value, even if you’re at the lowest rung of the business ladder.
Your subject line words should inspire curiosity—not through being outrageous or pushy, but by being genuine. Offer a gentle nudge when you engage with your customers, just enough to open the email, and then actually deliver on it fully. You’ll still only ever convert a small number of people to visit your site, and even less to purchase whatever your offer is, but you’ll land next to zero if you choose buzzwords carelessly.
Amr Ibrahim is the CEO and Founder of ULTATEL, a cloud-based provider of telecommunications. With 20+ years of experience in SaaS and Unified Communications, he is passionate about his belief that cloud-technology is uniquely capable of delivering business value and competitive advantage, in a way that is affordable and accessible regardless of their size or industry.