The best subject lines to increase opens in email marketing

Ideally, your email marketing subscribers will visit your website. They’ll purchase your products. They’ll read your content and share it with their friends.

But before any of that can happen, there’s a critical threshold you need to acknowledge: the open. If your subscribers never open your email, they won’t be able to take any action on it – which means the email is functionally useless.

In other words, your first and highest priority in email marketing is securing a higher open rate. You can do that with better subject lines – but what are the best subject lines for generating more email opens?

Why Are Email Subject Lines So Important?

Why are email subject lines so important for securing a higher open rate?

For starters, an email subject line is the first thing your subscribers will see when reviewing your email. Before they read your message, and before they even open it, the subject line is going to form their first impression. More than half of people will quickly delete most of the emails that hit their inbox simply because the subject line wasn't attractive enough.

It's also important to recognize that the body content of your email won't matter at all if subscribers never open your message. In other words, no matter how good your email is, the subject line is still the gateway that prevents people from viewing that excellent content.

It's possible to see good results from an excellent subject line, even if your internal body copy is weak; conversely, if your internal body copy is strong, with the subject line is weak, it's impossible to see adequate results.

The Qualities of Excellent Subject Lines

So what is it that makes a subject line effective? How can we tweak our subject lines to see better open rates across the board?

  • Conciseness. Whether you’re sending out welcome emails or a regular newsletter, it's important to remain concise. There's a strict upper limit to the number of characters an email platform can display for its users, so anything you write beyond that limit is worthless. On top of that, most people only glance at the subject lines they see in their inboxes, so it's important to form an excellent first impression with as few words as possible.
  • Uniqueness. If you're like most people, you get hundreds of emails every day. There's simply not enough time to go through them all, so we’re forced to delete most emails quickly. If your subject line is a carbon copy of another marketing email your recipient has seen before, your email will go on the chopping block. That's why it's important to create a subject line that's truly unique; try to think outside the box.
  • Urgency. Subject lines tend to be more effective when they imply a degree of urgency. Making a limited time offer, implying a degree of scarcity, or otherwise prompting your subscribers to act as quickly as possible can benefit your subject line. People will be far less likely to delete your emails or ignore them indefinitely this way.
  • Curiosity. It's also a good idea to spark the curiosity of your email subscribers. Don't tell them everything upfront; instead, provide hints and teases that make your audience want to know more. Something like “you won't believe what our next deal is” is much more effective than something like “our next deal is 30% off a turkey baster.”
  • Clear value. Why should a person open your email? If you don't demonstrate clear value, most people won't open the message. Try to make it clear how users can benefit from opening the message and reading it. Can they save money? Can they save time? Will they walk away with greater knowledge?
  •  Personalization. Personalized subject lines tend to perform better than generic ones. Assuming you have access to details like a person's name, location, and other factors, utilize them in the subject lines of the emails you send out.
  • Video: If you have decided to play a video within your email, mention it in your subject line, this will help improve your open rate by up to 19%.  
  • Specific relevance. In line with this, it's important that your subject lines are specifically relevant to your target audience. Segment your subscriber lists and conduct ongoing market research so you can better understand and appeal to your most important demographics.
  • Humor. Don’t be afraid to make puns and tasteful jokes in your subject lines. They can drive higher rates of engagement (and, of course, more opens).
  • Professionalism. Your subject lines will secure higher open rates if they look professional. Using all caps, excessive exclamation points, and other gimmicks will make your subject lines look less professional. The same is true if you allow any typos to slip by.
  • Emojis. While not exactly professional, including emojis in your subject lines can help them stand out and allow you to express emotion with more range and less character space.

It's also important to recognize that different industries and different contexts require slightly different approaches to subject line optimization. The subject line that works well for an industrial manufacturer looks different than a subject line that works for a new college student.

Beyond the Open

Hopefully, this guide has been able to enlighten you about the process of generating better subject lines and, in turn, higher open rates. But if you want your email marketing strategy to truly take off, you need to think beyond the open; securing a higher open rate is just the first part of the equation.

One of the best ways to increase the value of your email marketing campaign is to start embedding automatically playing videos into the bodies of your messages. Video content is highly engaging and eminently flexible, allowing you to reach practically any audience with ease. And thanks to Viewed, it's easier than ever to upload a video and immediately embed it into the body of your message.

If you’re interested in a set of tools that can help you embed videos into your marketing emails, Viewed is exactly what you need. Sign up for a free, 30-day trial today!