5 Tricks for Killer Email Subject Lines

5 tips & trips for killer email subject lines v2 (1)

Email subject lines are, without a doubt, one of the most important parts of your emails. In our last post, we established that email marketing is highly effective. A winning subject line is the not-so-secret trick to reeling in those open rates.

The email subject line is your first impression, and it’s just as important as the email body because it ensures someone actually opens your message. Whether it’s linking to a race registration form, reaching out to past participants or recruiting volunteers, an effective subject line will help you reach your most important goals this time around.

So, how do you craft a killer email subject line?

According to Demian Farnworth from CopyBlogger, “relentless research.”

“Look for that hook or angle that is fresh and meaningful,” Farnworth continued. “You start with the person, then the product, then the market. And don’t give up until you have that ‘aha’ moment. Even if it takes you weeks.”

Here are some best practices to get you started:

1. Keep It Short and Sweet: An email subject line study by MailChimp found that short, descriptive subject lines, 50 characters or less, were the most enticing to subscribers. In fact, President Obama raised $690 million for his 2012 re-election campaign through emails sent to his subscribers and supporters. One of the most popular email’s subject line? A simple “hey”.

Example: “Half marathon registration now open”

2. Create Urgency. Using deadlines like “today only” or “24-hour giveaway” will encourage your reader to act right away. A 2013 MailChimp study based on 24 billion delivered emails showed that subject lines that convey a sense of urgency have higher open rates. Take a page from eyeglass maker Warby Parker, which uses this subject line to entice buyers: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring.”

Example: “Last chance to sign up!”

3. Use Numbers. Numbered lists break down the content into a visually appealing and easily digestible format. Numbers also make your email subject line stand out in the sea of words floating in an inbox.

Example: “7 things to do before your next race”

4. Ask a Question. Asking your subscribers a question immediately engages them and might pique their curiosity. Reach out to your subscribers with something they care about.

Example: “You ready for this year’s mud challenge?”

5. Personalize It. Create a connection with your subscribers by showing them you know something about them. According to the 2014 Science of Email Marketing, emails that included the first name of the recipient in their subject line had higher clickthrough rates. Send messages on birthdays and registration anniversaries for a personal touch.

Examples: “Congrats! It’s been a year since you first ran with us!”

better subject lines grahic

Free Tools to Help You Write Clickable Subject Lines: 

1. Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer: This tool scores everything from clickthrough rates to SEO value to the length of your subject line. While it’s made for blog headlines, a lot of the same rules apply to subject lines, so use this to help craft your messages.
2. Neil Patel’s Subject Line Worksheet: Download this worksheet and keep it handy when writing email subject lines.
3. Email Spam Test: This simple email spam test tool helps you to determine how ‘spammy’ your email is and helps you stay out of those dreaded spam folders.
4. Litmus Email Testing: Preview your email across different email clients (including mobile) during a seven-day free trial.
5. Calculate email open rate using this graphic from Echogravity.
6. Follow Upworthy’s useful tip: Write 25 versions of each subject line to practice your email copywriting skills.

Check back to the blog for the next installment in our Email Marketing Series.

Catch up on older posts: 

1. Email Isn’t Dead: 6 Reasons Race Directors Need Email Marketing

2. Infographic: Why Email Marketing Is Still King for Race Directors