Whether you have an online business or a brick and mortar business, email marketing is a very important part of your marketing strategy. If you’ve been working diligently to create and grow your email list, crafted compelling messages or newsletter and aren’t seeing the kind of open rates you’d like, it’s time to focus on your subject line. According to Campaign Monitor, the average email open rate is 17.8% meaning, 82.2% of people aren’t opening up your emails. For all of the effort you’ve put in growing your list, having less than 20% of people opening and reading it can be disheartening.
I reached out to professional copywriter, Sara Anna Powers, whose clients have quadrupled their email open rates, to ask her how we can create better subject headlines for our emails. She’s mastered the art of writing irresistible emails and getting people to actually open them with a compelling subject line.
Sara Anna gave me her four tips for quadrupling email open rates:
1. Leverage Curiosity
“Using a curiosity-based subject-line should be your go-to for increasing email open rates. Case in point? The nail-biting cliff-hangers that end each episode of the most popular TV shows. TV executives know that when they create open loops in a story line, our psychological need to have a resolution to a problem will prompt us to tune in, week after week. It’s the same when you’re writing your emails,” says Powers. “Using a curiosity-based subject line will make it nearly impossible for your readers to scroll past without opening your message. So how can you create these types of subject lines that can dramatically uplevel your open rates? Think about what your audience is desperate to know, and tease it in your subject line. A few great examples are ‘This ONE thing doubled my income last year’ or ‘The exact strategy that 10X’d our sales last month.’”
2. Use Numbers
“Numbers tell a story when you know how to read them, and using a number in your subject line is a nearly-guaranteed way to get your reader to open your message. One of my most successful subject lines ever was simply, ‘$48,328.11.’ The email I sent was about the exact amount of money I invested into my business before I began turning a profit. Using the number on its own as my subject line was so intriguing that people couldn’t resist taking a peek at the message. Then I quickly gave them the payoff: the story of how investing in my business, while it felt scary at first, over time grew into a revenue-generating system that allowed me to fully exit my law practice. This both built connection with my audience and gave them hope that they, too, could turn their passion into profit with the right guidance,” tells Powers.
Not only did Powers use numbers here, but she combined it with the first point, curiosity. A very compelling subject line indeed.
3. Nod To The Negative
“Ever run into those people who just want to talk about the negative?” Powers asks. “They’re in your audience, too! And while it may feel counterintuitive to craft a negative-sounding subject line, it’s often exactly what’s needed to increase your open rates. My clients and I have seen a major uptick in open rates with subject lines like: ‘Don’t do this if you want to make a sale!’ and “’Why getting more clients WON’T fix your business.’”
You certainly don’t want to be negative all the time, but this point shows that when used strategically, it can really make a difference in your open rates.
4. Shock Your Readers
“When I was a little girl, I’d get so excited for my grandparents to come visit us because I knew that would mean a stack of tabloids on the nightstand. I was enthralled with the crazy headlines. Things like, ‘Alien baby saves underwater nation’ or ‘Four-headed man weds quadruplets.’” says Powers. “There’s no denying that shocking headlines prompt people to open your messages, if only to find out what’s really going on in your world. The key here is to give your audience the payoff in the first line or two of your email. For example, you could try the subject line, ‘I’m getting a divorce!’ and then state in the opening sentence of your email that you’ve getting a divorce from overcommitting, clients who take you for granted, and activities that don’t bring you joy. Use shock sparingly, and it will pay major dividends in your open rates.”
Shift your focus away from simply growing your list, to growing the engagement of the list you already have by creating compelling subject lines. It’s more fun and will ultimately pay off in the long run.