With more than 124 billion business emails being sent per day and the average office worker receiving more than 100, we all have a lot of inbox clutter to manage.

Despite the clutter, email can still be an effective way to communicate with and engage prospects and customers. Yet, unless our clients are opening our emails, they’re pretty much useless.

So, as business owners, marketing and sales professionals, the question we need to ask is “What are the most effective ways to increase email open rates”? One of the simplest answers is using effective email subject lines.

Email subject lines serve as a first impression of your company. In interpersonal communication studies, research shows you only have 7 seconds to make a strong first impression. Moreover, “… some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.”  With email subject lines, readers tend to take just a few seconds to skim them to decide to open, save, or delete.

So, how do you convey a strong first impression through email subject lines?

You can use funny lingo, questions, shocking or controversial tactics, numbers and lists, personalization, mystery, a straightforward approach, urgency, or scarcity tactics. Your options and creativity are unlimited!

That said, there are a few simple guidelines you should follow with all subject lines. Make them short. Never mislead with your subject lines. And create a subject line that will engage your target audience specifically (please…no more broad-sweeping generic subject lines).  

Below you will find some intriguing email subject lines, using various tactics to get your email open, read, and clicked. Enjoy!

1. “Boom shakalak! Let’s get started.”

Although it may take a bit more thought and caution (everyone’s sense of humor is different), this email subject was used by a business called Tic Tail. Their use of funny lingo is intriguing and engaging.

2. “Rough Day?”

By proposing a question you are starting an instant dialogue with your audience. Impulsively your reader will answer the question and increases the likelihood that your email will be opened. Note that this subject line appeals to a female audience well, which is why Sephora wrote it this way. Remember your audience.

3. “Your Marketing Sucks: Why You Need to Think Local”

Using shock or controversy can be a gamble and requires you to tread very carefully. To use this strategy, we recommend that you have a strong understanding of your audience’s tastes and perceptions. Because even though you may get that click-through, based on a very intriguing subject line, if you offend or belittle your audience, you may lose those customers and prospects. But, when used correctly you will reap the rewards. Think about it. Would you be able to simply ignore such a tantalizing insult in your inbox?  

4. “7 Most Annoying Moments of the #Oscars2014”

This approach is so successful because the human brain is naturally attracted to numbered lists. In addition to being intriguing and attention-grabbing, they signify a quick, easily-digestible read. Make sure when you use this, don’t include so much content per item that readers lose interest.

5. “[Name], We found more flight deals for you!”

This type of email subject line is a double whammy. First, you’re addressing them by name, which increases engagement. Second, you’re offering them something you know they want. How many times have you gone to a website, started a shopping cart, walked away, and received a follow-up email that is exactly what you needed or wanted? If done right, this can be an extremely effective tactic! Finding a platform that enables subject line personalization (like ClientTether – wink, wink), is crucial to make this work.

6. “This Disappears at Midnight”

Email subject lines like this stir the interest of readers with the use of mystery and a time limit. Not only will readers feel the sense of urgency impeded by the time limit, they will also be curious about what will be disappearing if they don’t open the email in time.

7. “Your package is on the way”

Sometimes the no-frill, straight-to-the-point tactic is optimal for your email subject line. In cases where your audience is familiar with you or is expecting you, clear and concise subject lines will get the job done. Not to mention, your audience will be grateful they know exactly what they are opening.

8. “Latest (Company) News”

The addition of “News” to an email subject line can result in an open rate of about 47.7% according to a study conducted by Adestra. Loyal customers want to learn the latest buzz about your company. Simple and concise, this is another great way to increase your open rates.

9. “5-HOURS ONLY! 50% off ALL Jeans in Stores. GO!”

This email subject line not only creates a sense of urgency that is compelling to customers, it also says everything about what the email contains. It clearly shows the available offer and creates urgency with the time limit. All the reader has to do is open the email for an offer link. While a great B2C tactic, this type of approach can be used for End-of-Quarter, or other promotional B2B marketing. Just remember your audience’s preferences as you try this.

10. “Free shipping on all orders! (48 HOURS ONLY)”

Similar to the example above, this email subject line uses scarcity language. As I learned in my research We have a deep, inherent fear of missing out – “that flock mentality was a survival instinct once, but now it’s just another subject line strategy to goad us into a purchase”.

As you can see, the options are limitless and you are only bound by your creativity and knowledge of your audience.

One of the most important things to do is to try new approaches, measure impact, adjust, and keep innovating.

Let us know what tactics you decide to use for your email marketing subject lines and how those work for you.

Learn more about how our client engagement platform helps automate email marketing, or read our blog posts to get answers to any other questions you may have.  

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