It’s well known that the “money is in the list.”
The email list, that is. But a huge email list is worthless if no one opens your emails.
So what’s the number one way to increase open rates? A compelling email subject line.
It’s best to treat the email subject like a headline. It should catch your readers’ attention, yet leave them curious enough to open and read your email. So how do you create that irresistible headline?
Some of today’s top copywriters work with the American Writers and Artists Inc. They’ve put together four elements that all compelling headlines share and they all start with “U”.
That’s a big tip – put you in your readers’ shoes when you’re brainstorming email subject lines. Let’s look at the four U’s of great subject lines.
1. Useful – Although it may be tempting to write a cryptic subject line, don’t do it. If your reader has no idea what your letter is about, chances are they won’t open your email. Instead, write a headline that shows your reader something of value awaits if they open your letter. Remember, people are pressed for time. Unless they know exactly what they will get by opening your email, they will not waste their time opening it.
2. Urgent – Even if your subject line promises useful information, if it’s not urgent, they may say, “I’ll open that later.” However, later may never come as your reader may forget. Instead, create a sense of urgency with your subject line with phrases like, “today only,” “for a limited time” and “in the next 24-hours.”
A word of caution on urgent: You don’t want to lure someone into opening an email only to find there actually is no time-sensitive information inside. Always be truthful, especially in your email subject lines.
3. Unique – If you’ve signed up for multiple email newsletters in the same niche, you likely see a lot of duplication of content. In other words, the same topics are written about over and over again. If your reader doesn’t expect to find anything new from your email letter, chances are they won’t open it. Pinpoint and convey your unique message and value in every subject line.
4. Ultra-Specific – In order to make your subject useful (see point No. 1), it’s best to be ultra-specific. Use facts and details such as dates, times, percentages, etc. The more specific you are, the more your reader will know what lies waiting for him or her by clicking through to read your message.
As you can see from the four U’s above, writing a compelling subject line can be difficult. It’s hard to be useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific in 50 characters or less. Research from Return Path (an email software provider) shows that subject lines with fewer than 49 characters get 12.5% more opens.
However, it’s important to spend the time trying to make it happen. The best copywriters in the world say they spend 80% of their time on the headline/subject line, and only 20% on the message itself.
And in the end, it makes sense. The best message in the world will never be read if your email is deleted before it’s ever opened.