Subject Lines: 6 Ways To Get Your Emails Opened

Are people reading your emails? Or are they sitting ignored in the corner of your participants’ inboxes? Not being noticed brings back awkward prom memories for us, so we decided to put together a list of ways your emails can grab the attention of your recipients (aka the popular crowd).

Email subject lines are the first thing people see and therefore, are really really important. It’s easy to switch up and test the performance of subject lines, so try these six tactics and see if any get you the attention you deserve.

1. Be Specific
There’s an on-going debate about whether shorter or longer subject lines are better, but it turns out that shorter is not always sweeter. Subject line length doesn’t matter as much specificity. Your participants are more likely to open an email sitting in their inbox if they know exactly what information it will contain. Be as clear as possible when crafting your subject lines.

Register now for City Marathon, ½ Marathon and 5K (vs. Register Now For a New Event)
Parking Info for Triathlon Expo (vs. Parking Info)

2. Ask a Question
Sometimes it’s nice to mix it up and ask a question in your subject line. Get your participant’s attention by making them curious or firing up their trivia skills. Just make sure that the question you ask in your subject line directly relates to the content of your email.

What was the winning time for last year’s triathlon?
Which band will be playing at the finish line festival?
Can I use an iPod? City Marathon FAQs

3. Include Value / Urgency
When a participant first sees your email pop up and scans the headline, they may be thinking, “What’s in it for me?” So tell them. Incentivize them to open the email or make them feel the urgency of a limited time offer.  Whether your goal is to increase registration numbers, boost revenue, or simply communicate important event info, think about what the participant will gain by reading on and use that as the content for your subject line.

Refer a friend and get a free shirt (value)
Get VIP access to the start and finish line (value)
Save 10 dollars on registration through Dec 31st (urgency)

4. Use Numbers or Lists
It’s no secret that attention spans are getting shorter and people like to read bite-sized content.  Write emails that are in list or bulleted format with subject lines to match (we even did it with this blog!). This makes your emails more eye-catching and friendly, and therefore more likely to be opened and read.

Top 5 Reasons to Register for the City Triathlon
3 New Event Sponsors Added
10 Things to Remember on Race Morning

5. Give Them a News Flash
Think about event news that’s fresh or interesting and turn it into a splashy subject line for an email. People love attention grabbing headlines (just think about all of the pop culture magazines), so have fun with it.

Early Bird Rate Flying Away Soon
Don’t Miss a Turn – Half Marathon Course Change
Wanna Run Fast? New Training Plan for City Marathon

6. Get Personal
When emailing participants (or past participants), do you use their names? Dear Jane or Dear John? What about in the subject line? Test out using your participant’s first names in your subject lines and see if it increases your open rates.

Laurie, registration for last year’s event is now open
Henry, improve your time of 2:06:12 from last year

Whatever tactic you try, just remember to track the open rates and see which emails get the best results. The subject line is the first thing participants will see, so make it good!