Email marketingOn average, 8 out of 10 people will read the subject line copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

If you send out newsletters for your own business, or perhaps on behalf of your clients businesses’, you know how long it can take to create the content, format it, and get it ready for dispatch. Then after all that hard work, how many of us add a subject line in without too much thought at all?

I know I have in the past, and then questioned why only half of them were opened by my subscribers when I checked the analytics!

The subject line acts as the motivator. It determines whether your newsletter (or email) will get opened.

So it’s worth spending some time on this. In actual fact, some of the best copywriters of all time recommend you should spend half of the entire time it takes to write the main content, on the headline alone.

So with this in mind I started my research into what makes a good subject line, to help ensure that my future newsletters get opened by the majority (if not all) of my subscribers.

Firstly it’s about deciding on the type of subject line to use.

Possible subject line styles are:

  • Direct: Using no nonsense, clear, straight-forward writing – in no way trying to be clever.
  • Indirect: Using subtlety and cleverness in the writing style to create some intrigue and curiosity.
  • A ‘News’ style: Using some form of ‘news’ announcement e.g. a promotion you’re currently running or a new service offering.
  • ‘How to …’ style: Using ‘How to …’ is a proven method, but only if it’s something that your subscribers will want to know!
  • ‘Reasons why …’ or ‘5 ways to …’ style: As above, it suggests quick pointers or key information that your readers can take away and use themselves.
  • In the form of a question: Using a question in your subject line, but only if it’s something your readers will empathise with i.e. ‘Do you send each of your clients a birthday card?
  • A testimonial: If it’s good enough, and depending on whom you’re sending your email / newsletter too, this can work well.

Then we must make sure to cover the 4 U’s approach as taught by the American Writers & Artists:

  1. Be Useful
  2. Be Ultra-Specific
  3. Create a sense of Urgency
  4. Offer a Unique benefit

It’s suggested that the top two are the most important to incorporate into your subject line, the latter two can be included just as long as you don’t go too spammy.

And finally the shorter you keep it, the better.

What’s your newsletter click-through rate? If you’re willing to share your tricks of the trade we’d love to hear from you – thanks!

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