Subject Line Do's and Do not's

06/24/19 09:54 AM By Benji

There is no try

How To Stand Out In The Inbox

Just about everyone has heard the saying, “there are no second chances at first impressions”. Well, when sending an email, the subject line is the first impression. Subject lines can pique curiosity or induce disinterest, with the latter affecting all future emails. If you are partaking in email marketing the chances are high that you would like customers to open, read, and click through your emails, and this all starts with a well crafted subject line. Here at OptCulture we went ahead and put together some time tested tips on subject lines.

Optimize Emails For Mobile Devices

How do you check your personal email? For most, its done on a mobile device. In fact over 75% of marketing emails are opened on a mobile device. This makes it important to consider mobile compatibility when designing an email. It also means that a subject line needs to be short and sweet or it risks getting cut off and shortened by mobile mail user interfaces. 

Start With a Verb

Telemarketers are famous for the phrase “Act Now!” usually followed by an offer that sounds too good to be true. The phrase is supposed to bring about a sense of urgency informing the customer that in order to take advantage of this limited offer they need to pick up the phone and place an order. Consider using this same strategy when drafting a subject line for your emails. I wouldn't recommend using the phrase “Act Now!” but starting with a verb is a great way to inspire customers to click. Consider the difference between the subject line “New Spring Arrivals” vs “Check Out Our Spring Arrivals”. Although both emails contain the same information the subject line “Check Out Our Spring Arrivals” motivates a click and a view by starting with an action-oriented verb.

Provide Value

If there is a special offer inside, let the customer know. Avoid using phrases like “Your exclusive offer” and use a more descriptive phrase which lets the customer know exactly what they have. Something along the lines of “Look inside for your rewards balance”. The subject line that provides more value here is the one that tells the customer exactly what they are getting. Never mislead your customers with a subject line. For example, a subject line that reads “Your rewards are here!” but inside is a survey that a customer has to complete before receiving their reward. Customers may open this email but the ones that do are most likely not going to complete the survey and not open future emails, and may possibly even report your email as SPAM. 

Personalize Your Emails 

Use a merge tag in the subject line to generate your customer's name. A personalized email provides a feeling of importance. “Michelle you have rewards waiting for you” is more likely to get an open rather than “You have rewards waiting for you”. OptCulture has a merge tag tool that allows you to do just that for campaigns, providing you with the ability to use email marketing in a personal way. Consider also using words that convey a sense of exclusivity in combination with merge tags. Phrases like “George Join Our Most Loyal Customers This Weekend”. Personal and exclusive subject lines will contribute to higher open rates as opposed to generic subject lines.

What Not To Do

Do not send from an email address that is a noreply address. An example would be [email protected] Trying to contact a company and not being able to get a hold of an actual human being is quite possibly one of the most frustrating feelings in the world. Especially if you consider your time of value and are in a situation where you have to speak to automated menus in order to connect to someone that can actually help. This is the exact impression you are presenting when sending customers emails from a [email protected] email address. Consider using a well-known employee name, the owner's name, or even the store managers name. Receiving an email from a known name is much more likely to be opened than one from an [email protected] address.

Do not use subject lines that contain both an exclamation point and a question mark. There is a specific filter used by email providers that will automatically send this email to the SPAM folder. A subject line that appears as “Want To Get 10$ Off? Click Here!” is guaranteed to end up in the SPAM folder. Don’t want that to happen? Don’t do that!

Words To Avoid

Spam filters are more advanced every day. Email providers go to great lengths to stop SPAM from getting into people's inbox. While your emails are not SPAM because your customers have opted in to receive emails from you, using certain words in your subject line can put you at risk for ending up in the junk folder. Below is a short list of words to avoid when creating your subject line. 

Any words that deal with money- free, price, money, dollar signs, discount etc. These words are a red flag for email spam filters

Exclusive- this is used far too much in email marketing and has now been flagged as a word associated with SPAM filters

Free- this word and the word Bonus, everyone knows where this email is going

Bogo- same chance to hit the spam folder as the word free

Superlatives- words like amazing, incredible, fantastic, leave them out of the subject and if you must, use them in the content

Days of the week- Cyber Monday and Black Friday ruined this for everyone, don't use days of the week in the subject line, use dates instead

Emojis- just don't, this looks unprofessional and will be flagged by spam filters

Earn- using the word earn will be associated with money and is at risk for flagging

Too many exclamation points- Spring is Here!!!!!!!! Is not going to pass the filter and just looks like you might have had too much coffee when sending this email or that you are yelling at a person; neither are a good impression

Creating a great subject line should require a little bit of effort but the reward of avoiding the spam filter is worth it, especially if you have spent a good amount of time drafting the mail and providing customers with great content and valuable images. If you’re going to invest your time in creating a good email, then it only makes sense to invest your time in creating a good subject line so your email lands in the inbox where it will be open and read.