Increasing Open Rates With Better Email Subject Lines

Email copywriting tips for getting your emails opened

The industry average for open rates is 20%. We can agree, because our open rates and those of our clients (though some are much higher) range around 20%. Now you’ll find all kinds of fun information about open rates and how inaccurate they can be (like 11% to 35% inaccurate), due to things out of your control, but this particular blog is about something you are in control of – your email subject line.

We have four rules for writing a good subject line:

  • The email newsletter subject line should be engaging and benefit-oriented.
  • The email newsletter subject line should feature something unique in the current issue.
  • The email newsletter subject line must place the most important information first, so that it’s not missed by readers
  • The email newsletter subject line shouldn’t sound “spammy.”

The subject line should be engaging, benefit oriented and talk about the content within the current issue of the email newsletter. The key message in the subject line should be first; subject lines are often truncated. When writing subject lines, companies should be sure they don’t sound “spammy” by avoiding over-the-top claims and language favored by less reputable emailers.

Now this is all easy to say, but how exactly can you construct an email subject line that follows all of the above rules?

Talented copywriter and author Bob Bly suggests even more rules: the “4 U’s” copywriting formula – which stands for urgent, unique, ultra-specific and useful. Are you getting all of this?

Download a FREE copy of Best Email Subject Lines for Selling Premium Subscriptions and Memberships and discover an extensive list of email subject line frameworks that are consistently proven to sell and boost revenue for publishers.

For a few subject lines to try testing, check out these results from MailChimp. 17 out of the 20 top email subject lines (with a 60%-87% open rate) included the company name.

On their list of subject lines, these were the top 7 performers:

  1. [COMPANYNAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter
  2. Eye on the [COMPANYNAME] Update (Oct 31 – Nov 4)
  3. COMPANYNAME] Staff Shirts & Photos
  4. [COMPANYNAME] May 2005 News Bulletin!
  5. [COMPANYNAME] Newsletter – February 2006 [ *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* ]
  6. [COMPANYNAME] and [COMPANYNAME] Invites You!
  7. Happy Holidays from [COMPANYNAME]

And the worst? Here they are:

  1. Last Minute Gift – We Have The Answer
  2. Valentines – Shop Early & Save 10%
  3. Give a Gift Certificate this Holiday
  4. Valentine’s Day Salon and Spa Specials!
  5. Gift Certificates – Easy & Elegant Giving – Let Them Choose
  6. Need More Advertising Value From Your Marketing Partner?
  7. [COMPANYNAME] Pioneers in Banana Technology

If you haven’t tried using your company name in your subject line, there’s a good start. For more tips on how to write better subject lines, download a free copy of The 17 Best Email Subject Lines.


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