Rumors have been circulating around the internet that email marketing has gone the way of the dinosaur, but that isn’t exactly true. For most businesses, marketing to your subscribers through email is still a very effective way to get results, and it packs an even greater punch when combined with other marketing methods like social media. So how can you construct an email that gets noticed? Start with a great subject line.

Four Basic Types of Subject Lines

So what makes a stellar headline? Here are four basic approaches to writing subject lines (and headlines) for your email.

Valuable: The reader is offered a message that is useful or helpful to them right now.

Laser-Focused: The main point of the email message should be clearly stated in the subject line.

Time Sensitive: Communicate a sense of urgency that compels the reader to read the email now.

Remarkable: The message offered is unique and compelling to the reader.

Combining these four elements in your subject line will give you the best shot for good email open rates.

Anatomy of a Great Subject Line

Here are some tips for crafting a headline that stands out in a sea of emails:

Clearly identify yourself—Make it clear to your readers that you are the sender by identifying yourself in the “From” field and/or subject line of your email.  Be consistent. For example, if you send out a monthy newsletter, start it the same way each month (e.g. OpenVine Insights—[insert month, year]).

Be specific and state your value—Of the four elements above, you will want to focus on these two even if you have to throw out the others. Urgent or unique subject lines, without value or specificity, can appear spammy. You can still be clever, just as long as you provide clarity.

Communicate urgency only when there is urgency—If every email you sent out involves “last minute savings” or “act now,” readers will begin to tune you out. Include time-sensitive offers only when you really have a great offer.

Ask a question—Posing a question in your subject line can peak the curiosity of your readers and encourage them to click through to your email to find the answer to the question.

Avoid the spam filters—There are many opinions on what words or symbols can trigger spam filters. Most email services offer spam checking options. Rather than sweating the never-ending list of do’s and don’ts you will find online (which may or may not be accurate), focus on creating a compelling, targeted subject line, let your email service run a spam check, and tweak if needed.

Don’t have a spam checker option? Check out this article by MailChimp for some guidelines to help you avoid getting caught in spam filters. Spam filters weigh your subject line text by applying points to what they perceive as spam words (i.e. Act Now or Free Offer!). These words and symbols in and of themselves won’t necessarily send your email careening into the spam folder, but a high percentage of them used together will.

Be concise—Less is more. You only have a limited amount of real estate (about 30 characters for mobile devices) in the subject line to grab the attention of your reader, so focus on providing something valuable and specific. If you can work all four elements into the subject line, even better! According to Litmus, 43 percent of all emails were opened on mobile devices in March, 2013 compared to a measly 10 percent in 2011.

By following the tips above, you will become a trusted source for your readers. When you gain the trust of your readers, they will be more likely to click through to read your emails, regardless of how great—or maybe not so great—your subject line is. Focus on providing value to your audience, and they will appreciate you for it.

Do you need help creating an email campaign or overall digital marketing strategy? Our digital marketing specialists and expert copywriters are here to help. Contact us today to find out the different options available to get the most out of your marketing dollar.

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