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Boost Open Rates with Better Email Subject Lines

Nearly 281 billion emails are sent every single day, and one research firm projects that number will skyrocket to 333 billion emails per day by 2022. That’s a lot of subject lines! Whether you’re utilizing emails for marketing purposes or networking needs, every email is a pitch – or, an invitation to engage. Email subject lines matter. A lot, actually. About 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone, while 69% of recipients report emails as spam solely based on the subject line.

So how do you get your emails opened without people ignoring them, or worse, reporting the emails as spam? After an extensive study, researchers from Carnegie Mellon have found that the most effective emails have subject lines that appeal to one of two things: utility or curiosity. A utility subject line is one directly relevant to someone’s work. It’s straightforward, powerful, and affects the recipient and their needs. Subject lines that utilize curiosity create a sense of uncertainty and pique the interest of the recipient. Basically, it makes them curious about what’s inside.

Make sure you appeal to these two things – and don’t get caught in the middle! Combining the two tactics might even be counterproductive because it mixes different types of motivation. In recent research from MailChimp, the highest newsletter open rate had informative subject lines that simply stated what was inside. That’s a utility subject line. Curiosity subject lines are a little trickier. Make sure they line up with your brand without being too obscure; otherwise, you’ll end up in the spam folder.

10 Best Practices for Email Open Rates

There are many do’s and don’ts in the email subject line world. Here are some of our favorite best practices:

  1. Keep it short (under 50 characters, if possible). A seven-word subject line seems to be the sweet spot.
  2. Don’t make false promises. The subject line is a prelude to what you’ll deliver in the body of the email, so make sure you make good on your commitment.
  3. Start with action verbs. A vibrant verb at the beginning of your subject line is inviting, and similar to a call-to-action. Instill urgency in the recipient with this tactic.
  4. Avoid weird capitalization and the overuse of emojis. This trendy attempt at boosting your open rates distracts more than entices.
  5. Use data and numbers. Using data in your email subject is as straightforward as it gets, and demonstrates a clear message about your offer.
  6. Pose a question. Remember “curiosity” email subjects? Posing a compelling question is the perfect way to draw recipients in.
  7. Don’t use a fake reply (like re: or fw:). Writing your subject line like it’s a reply or forward may seem like a stroke of genius, but misleads your recipient and causes frustration.
  8. Create a sense of importance. Communicating urgency and scarcity can compel your recipient to open emails. Just be careful you aren’t using this tactic too often.
  9. Understand pain points. Recognize your recipient’s struggles and solve the problem for them via subject line.
  10. Don’t be afraid to get funny. This one involves a bit more creativity, but making your recipients laugh with a pun or quirky joke can help open rates.

Write Email Subjects That People Will Actually Read

Appealing to either utility or curiosity and utilizing the best practices above will have you well on your way to crafting excellent email subjects that people will actually read (and open!). Because open rates are one of the most important email marketing metrics, it’s important to put your best foot forward in terms of the quality of your subject lines. Prove your content is worth a quick read with compelling email subject lines that boost open rates today.