03 Mar 2017

7 tips for writing an email subject line that begs to be opened

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7 ways to boost your subject line


35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone (Convince and Convert). So all the fancy design and copy that you spent hours putting together isn’t worth much if a third of your recipients aren’t opening your emails.


As an event organiser, email marketing will always be one of the most valuable tools available to you, but are you making the most of your campaigns? Rather than pump money into social media and PPC advertising, email is the category generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI and gives event marketers the broadest reach of all the channels available to them (Campaign Monitor).


In today’s blog, we are touching upon how to write subject lines that beg to be opened and give you seven ideas for ways that you can improve your open rates.


Get personal


According to Adestra, personalised subject lines are 22% more likely to be opened. It makes sense too, adding someone’s name to an email gives it that little bit more of a personal touch and might catch your eye.


This idea is certainly nothing revolutionary, but you’d be surprised by how many event organisers don’t take advantage of a more personal sounding email subject line. Let’s take a birthday for example, which of the following sounds better to you as a subject line?


– “Happy Birthday! Here’s a free ticket to help you celebrate




– “It’s your birthday Jason! Here’s a free ticket to help you celebrate


Even though both messages are 90% identical, by adding the personalization, it just makes the subject line a little more intimate and personal to them.


Create a sense of urgency


Using terminology such as ‘while stocks last’ or ‘today only’ is great for eliciting an immediate response from a recipient. By creating a timing window for the reader, we create of urgency by way of them having to act ‘now’.


This is backed up by data too. According to Email Institute, Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate.


Try experimenting with flash sales of your event or with certain early discounts before price rises to see if you can drum up some immediate business through your email database.


Display value right away


When it comes to what you are offering in your email, don’t beat around the bush in regard to your subject line. It needs to be straight to the point and give the reader an idea of the content inside.


If you’re sending something of value to someone, let him or her know about it! For example, if you have a BOGOF on your tickets, make the subject line something like: “Buy one get one free on all tickets, today only!”. If the reader was previously interested in buying a ticket, you can be damn sure they are going to open this email!


Just be careful, as this can also have a contrasting effect if used to oversell. Don’t oversell your email, if you don’t have an offer in there, don’t say you do. Whilst you may get a better open rate, you will most likely increase bounce rate and lose credibility among your customer case.


Use numbers in your subject line


With the sheer amount of information that our brains have to process every day, we subconsciously skim read just everything put in front of our face. By using numbers in our subject line, we help the reader to visualise and cement our value proposition whilst keeping the character count low.


Here are a few examples of how to use numbers as opposed to words in different ways in your subject line. You tell us what sounds better:


You will love our new race” or “5 reasons why you will love our new race


Only a few tickets left for March’s event” or “Only 5 tickets left for March’s event


Join everybody at our new race location” or “Join 500 other participants at our new race location


By adding numbers to our subject line, we are able to elaborate and put context on what may have been a rather ambiguous message.


Engage with a question


The linguistic structure of a question makes a reader stop, pause and think about the answer. If you’ve asked the right question in your subject line, then the response will be for that person to open your email.


Questions work really well for subject lines because they offer an aspect of intrigue. We can use this type of questioning to ‘challenge’ our reader to take an action. For example, instead of “We have a brand new obstacle at our race”, use “Can you take on our newest obstacle?”. Those couple of extra words are inviting the reader to open the email.


If you’re looking for a few examples of how to start off your subject line with a question, here’s a few examples:


-Do you think

-How do you

-What do you

-Do you want

-Do you have

-Do you know

-Do you

-Would you


Segment your list


Whilst this may not apply directly to your subject line, it ultimately drives what the content of it will be. How annoying is it when you get an email that clearly has no relevance to you? It’s a sure-fire way to get an unsubscribe click.


The more you segment your email list into different groups, the more effectively you will be able to target them. If you’re just getting started with email segmentation, the best place to start would be to segment your subscriber list into two categories. Either purchased a ticket for your event or not purchased a ticket. From here, you can start the process of developing custom campaigns and subject lines for each audience, as the messaging will be very different.


Add the preview text too


Another often-overlooked part of any email campaign is the preview text that goes along side the subject line. It gives recipients a preview of what to come in your email.


Some email providers will let you change the preview text to whatever you want so it’s worth checking out if yours has that functionality to do so.


In case you can’t change it, make sure the first line of your email copy is something that will read well in the preview. You’ve been given a chance to expand your messaging, make sure you take advantage of it.


Hopefully, by now you can see the value of having a great subject line and have some ideas to take away and try for yourself. The one bit of advice above all would be to test, test and TEST AGAIN. Cannot stress this enough!


There is no right or wrong answer, you’ll need to get a feel for your audience and what they respond to. If you’re looking for other ways to boost your campaigns, check out our blog on taking your email marketing campaigns to the next level.