6 Styles of Successful Subject Lines + Some Tips
After all, that’s your email’s first impression. 5/20/2021 | Jessica Onions, Designer Patch
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We all know your first impression is the most important one so why are you slacking on your email subject line? After all, that’s your email’s first impression.

I know, I know, they’re hard. Do I make it short or long? How do I make it stand out? Should it be serious and businesslike? Believe me, I’ve been there many times but now I’m here to help you write better subject lines that make a stronger impression.

First off, don’t use the first thing that comes to mind. Take a little extra time and write multiple subject lines and pick the best one. With the tips below this will be easier and less painful than it sounds.

Here are 6 styles of successful subject lines.

  1. Keep it short.
    That is around 50 characters or less. According to Hubspot, 77% of emails are opened on mobile devices. This greatly reduces the space available for a subject line. I prefer short subject lines so I get a quick synopsis of what I’m opening up.

  1. AVOID USING ALL CAPITALS.
    As we all know, this is considered yelling in the world of technology and it’s a tactic that’s been exhausted.

  1. Incorporate numbers.
    Our good ole brain is naturally drawn to digits. Plus this helps keep your character count under 50.

  1. Make it visually jarring.
    Incorporate numbers, as mentioned above.
    Use a question mark or other ‘unusual’ punctuation - avoid exclamation marks because, like all caps, it’s been overused.
    Try emojis - this has gained popularity over the past few years.

  1. Call on the powers of FOMO.
    That is the Fear Of Missing Out (Hey Amelia, maybe this can be an acronym on The Rundown?). If the recipient doesn’t open and act now on your offer, they will miss out on a great deal, perfect for sales flyers.

  1. Incorporate alliteration.
    Check out the title of this article, “6 Styles of Successful Subject Lines + Some Tips”. It’s slightly jarring, like tip #4, yet fun to read.

Even after trying out these styles and you’re still a little stuck go take a look at all the emails you receive (in your work email and your personal email). What subject lines catch your attention and make you open and what ones do you pass on by?

Two of my “favorites” were:

Yes, this example from Loft Outlet uses capital letters, but they’re not all caps. The use of digits, unusual punctuation with the plus sign, and straightforwardness of it made me open the email.

Yep, FOMO hit me plus it’s a question. So no, Biossance, I did not see it but now I must!

Two that made me say “pass” were:

Uncommon Goods tried with their emoji, but it’s too long, the product name is cut off, and it’s not exciting or enticing.

Again, this one is too long and Michaels could’ve worded it differently to invoke FOMO instead of copping out with three exclamation marks at the beginning.

A final important step to successful subject creation is A/B testing. This helps you to be sure the subject lines that you just put so much effort into really do resonate with your target audience. So, how do we A/B test?

  1. Pick one flyer you want to email.

  2. Choose two different subject lines you crafted for this email.

  3. Randomly select an even number of recipients from your email list and divide them into two.

  4. Email the first half of your randomly selected list with subject line A.

  5. Email the second half of your randomly selected list with subject line B.

  6. Whichever one receives the most open rates or higher conversion rate is your winner.

  7. Email the remaining recipients on your list with the winning subject line.

Doing this every so often also helps you hone into what types of subject lines appeal to your customers so you can whip up future subject lines to follow suit.

See, writing subject lines doesn't have to be as daunting as it was once! Happy writing and I’ll see you next month to discuss how to turn your emails into social posts.


Jessica is the Art Director at PromoCorner and has been in the promotional products industry since 2010. With a degree in Graphic Design, she has been working in Marketing since 2006 creating advertising of all sizes; from social posts to billboards. Jessica shares her passion for design in her monthly blog, Designer Patch. She can be reached at jessica@promocorner.com.
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