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Alert: How to Create Email Subject Lines That Can’t Be Ignored

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Person looking at desktop with holographic email notificationsMore than 30 percent of email recipients open the email based on the subject line alone. Unfortunately, the folks that study those things seem to be silent about what happens to the other 70 percent. But we have a pretty good guess.

Everyone’s INBOX is the target of tons of digital missiles each day, and only the most interesting, compelling or urgent of the subject lines gets enough attention to be opened and read. As a healthcare marketing tool, one of the top attributes of email as a healthcare marketing tool is its next-to-nothing low cost.

But obviously—and this is the really big BUT—if the email isn’t seen by the intended audience, your opportunity is lost, and even the low-cost investment is squandered. No one can afford that. Good, effective email marketing has many “moving parts.” This includes the list, the message, the offer, the format and graphics, the call to action, and probably a dozen other variables.

Email subject lines launch successful marketing…

The critical launch pad for those critical components begins with an email subject line that can’t be ignored…that captures attention and inspires the reader to open, read and act on the email information. Here are seven useful ideas to increase the percentage of delivered emails that are opened—your “open rate” metric.

Personalize when possible. Studies report that personalized subject lines are over 22 percent more likely to be opened. [Adestra software]

Create urgency or curiosity. The “open me first” approach suggests importance as well as something that needs to be revealed. Urgent-inspired subjects can produce a 22 percent higher open rate.

Spotlight the benefit. Let the recipient know that, yes, there’s something inside for them. Identify the self-interest and put the payoff right up front.

Use a timely tie-in. Take a hot headline from the front page or current events. Good taste and proper judgment can keep you away from improper or negative controversy. What’s new or even newsy?

Numbers, lists and statistics. The email information is likely to be a useful or handy reference. And numbers imply a sense of worth to the material.

Surprise, amaze, reveal. Subject lines can tease the reader or reveal “secrets” that payoff curiosity and/or deliver an unexpected benefit. What flies in the face of conventional wisdom?

Simple also works. One counterintuitive style says plain and straightforward are OK. Simply tell what’s inside and don’t stretch to sell it.

And a few bonus ideas and insight...

In the age of smartphones, about 40 percent of emails are opened first on a mobile device. The typical small screen only allows for four to seven words. [ContactMonkey] Otherwise, shoot for about 50 characters or less in the subject line.

And, by the way, emails with “free” in the subject line were opened 10 percent more than those without. [Sidekick] But, there’s a 61.8% increase in opens when using the word “alert” in subject lines. Always use caution, some words in email subject lines can trigger spam filters.

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