How to Entice Opens with These Attention-Grabbing Email Subject Lines

If you do marketing of any kind, you’re trying to get attention. From sign-spinners and wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men on the street, to intrusive video ads and click-bait headlines online, everyone is screaming, “look at me!” And when it comes to email marketing, crafting attention-grabbing email subject lines is almost as important as the content within the email.

How do you create attention-grabbing email subject lines? You don’t want to be misleading or insincere — that will get you a one-way ticket to unsubscribe land. But you do have to stand out. People deal with hundreds (even thousands) of emails every day from multiple email accounts. If you don’t hook them with attention-grabbing email subject lines, they’re likely to just scroll on by.

Whether you’re highlighting a sale or new product, or you’re just reaching out to subscribers or sending a newsletter, here are some tips for creating attention-grabbing email subject lines.

The Basics of Crafting Attention-Grabbing Email Subject Lines

Right off the bat, there are some easy things to keep in mind when writing any email subject line. First and foremost, remember who you’re sending to! Will your audience care about this email? Are you bringing them value? You know what makes your audience tick; deliver a subject line that will compel them to click. And whenever possible, make it personal by adding the recipient’s name in the subject line. Take it a step further and segment your lists, and send certain emails to certain people based on their interests and previous purchases. Make them feel like the email was just for them.

Next, get to the point! You’ve likely heard that email subject lines should be around 30-50 characters. However, research from MailChimp has shown that for most users, there is no statistical link between subject line length and open rate. Still, if you want to write attention-grabbing email subject lines, short and sweet is the way to go. Multi-tasking people have short attention spans — they want sound bites, not dissertations. And most people are checking their emails on their mobile devices. If they can’t see your whole headline, they’re probably not going to be affected by it, or attracted to it.

Finally, show some urgency. If you’ve got a hot deal or a limited-time offer, make sure that resonates. Even if you aren’t offering the deal of a lifetime, provide value. Give people the information they’re looking for. Answer their most burning questions. Show them why they MUST open the email, even if it’s just your regular monthly newsletter. Let’s say it again, you know your audience. If you’re marketing to propane dealers, don’t just have a subject that says, “The September Propane Industry Newsletter.” It’s bland and boring and offers no call to action. Not only that, research from Adestra found that using the word "newsletter" in an email subject line lead to an 18.7% decrease in open rates. Hit them with the hottest topic in that newsletter and, again, personalize it. “This New Legislation Will Affect XYZ Propane — Are You Prepared?” is an attention-grabbing email subject line that is far more likely to be opened. Just make sure you deliver. Click-baiting is a major no-no and will turn your audience off in a heartbeat.

Now it’s Time to Get Creative

OK, now that you know the basics, it’s time to up your game and take the creation of attention-grabbing email subject lines even further. Here are a few unique ways to beef up your emails.

Make them laugh. We’re all over-worked and over-stressed. A little levity goes a long way during a hectic work week. If your subject line can make your audience chuckle, they’ll be far more likely to open the email to see what’s behind the joke. If you need some inspiration, check out these examples and tips from VerticalResponse.

Be mysterious. You’ve probably seen a “Don’t Open This Email” or “Don’t Read This” subject line before. The idea behind this tactic is to channel recipients’ inner teenager — when you’re told not to do something, it just makes you want to do that thing even more. However you do it, peak your audience’s curiosity. Ask an intriguing question, offer to reveal the unknown, or be calculatingly cryptic. But, again, just make sure you deliver once they open the email.

Play on insecurities. Ever hear of FOMO — the Fear Of Missing Out? Everyone wants a seat at the cool kids’ table; everyone wants that “can't miss” experience or deal. Play into that by highlighting timeliness and urgency. “Don’t Let Your Subscription Expire,” Special Offer, Today Only,” or “Don’t [Do This, Buy That] Until You Read This” are examples of eye-catching phrases that will compel people to open the email, or be left behind.

Make life easier. Everyone is looking for life hacks. If your email can ease someone’s pain, they’re going to be interested. Whether it’s tips and advice to make their jobs easier, or ways to streamline and enhance their home and personal lives, people always appreciate a helping hand. “Stop Wasting Time With X,” “Your X Issues Solved,” or “Make X Easier With X” are ways you can show your audience that you feel their pain — and have the answers.

Ready to start crafting attention-grabbing email subject lines? We’re here to help. Contact us today!