Creating the best email subject lines for higher CTO

Published in july, 25 of 2016

For writing the best email subject lines, check out our guidelines and achieve higher and higher CTO rates!

Have you read this blog post title before clicking? You have probably read it, or you wouldn't be reading this sentence. This alone should be a case for showing the effectiveness of well-made subject lines.

Often overlooked by marketing professionals, email subject lines are the first thing (and maybe the most important one) subscribers and followers check before opening an email message. More than that: a brilliant (or terrible) email subject line can be decisive for readers to choose if the email deserves or not being read.

"More people see the subject line than any other element of the email campaign, so it’s absolutely vital to impress here."

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at Econsultancy

Click to tweet

According to a Raticati's email research, the average number of legitimate business emails sent every day surpasses 76 billion messages. Even knowing that not all of these messages come to our personal inboxes - thank God - readers still have to filter messages by eye and click only in what they find interesting and relevant.

Creating the best email subject lines can be a big deal. That's why we'll help you take care of all before-and-after steps of it with a complete guideline with nine amazing tips for creating email subject lines.

Feel like getting straight to the point? Here's the blog post table of contents:

Subject lines and CTO rates statistics

Infographic: Must-know stats before creating your email marketing subject line | Emailmanager blog

We should start by saying that, on average, 9% of sent emails are deleted without even being opened or read. Now tell me: which is your criteria for deleting emails you don't wanna open? That's right. By reading its subject line. And you're not alone: 69% of email recipients claim to report emails as spam based on the subject line alone.

That's why more and more companies are using personalization, adding the reader's name and location right into their email's subject lines. With it, click-to-open rates increased in over 29% on average. And personalization, as you might know, is one of many email marketing best practices.

But just adding the reader's' name into the message and calling it personalized subject line isn't enough. Apart from using the right words and approach, the reader must feel attracted to click, and of course, not be disappointed with its content shortly after doing it.

Knowing that roughly 52% of clicks to open emails in the U.S. comes from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, it's also important to know that subject lines can be shown differently (sometimes incomplete) for some users, depending on the device used for reading emails. To avoid this errors and many others, planning your campaign is essential.

Planning before creating a subject line

An effective and attractive email subject line requires the right planning, so it can drive better CTO rates. The following steps take place before selecting a subject line and sending your email marketing campaign, being an important part of online marketing strategies.

Everything should be in the same page before going further:

Define the email campaign's objective

If you're sending an email marketing campaign, you should have an objective in mind. To be fair, many objectives can be achieved through online marketing strategies: promote brand awareness, make people visit your website or blog, download an ebook or infographic, convert users through nurturing, gather attendees to your event, and many others.

Having the email campaign's objective well-defined is important to create the best email subject lines, so users can have a preview of what they'll get if they click your email. And don't forget to add a pretty call-to-action in your email - it'll drive readers to the right place.

Define the audience

To achieve the right results, your email marketing campaign must reach the right audience. The kind of audience may vary depending on your campaign's objective, and that's where contact filtering and segmentation comes in handy.

If your campaign's objective is promote brand awareness, there's no need to send the campaign for who's already your customer. And there's no point promoting your ebook for subscribers who have already downloaded it through your landing page. For getting more attendees to your event, try sending your email campaign based on their location or other demographic profile. Segmentation is also one of the email marketing best practices.

Define the voice and tone of communication

This is directly related to your campaign's objective and audience. Although funny and engaging email subject lines may work great for some industries, such as utilities and clothing, a more serious tone may suit better for a different kind of audience, i.e. professional consulting and services.

Also, make sure both subject line and content have the same voice and tone. Sometimes, the email template, such as colors and images, can help bringing a more informal look to your campaign. But the important thing is it should relate to your main message and objective.

Define the best sending time

That's a tough question for many marketing professionals. Sending emails at the right time can bring great CTO and CTR rates, decisive metrics for measuring the success of online marketing strategies.

A great practice is putting yourself in the reader's place, according to its persona: do they work in business hours? They have easy access to their computers and mobile devices when they're working? Sending the right message at the right time requires knowledge about your readers and customers.

Guidelines for the best email subject lines

Objective? Check.

Audience? Check.

Voice and tone of communication? Check.

Sending time? Check.

You're ready to create an ass-kicking email subject line. For helping you in this task, we've created a list with nine guidelines for choosing the best email subject lines and driving great CTO rates for your email marketing campaign. Shall we start?

Email subject line length

The optimized size for an email subject line is still the theme of many debates around the marketing world. With the crescent use of mobile devices for opening and reading emails, marketing professionals should be aware that the email subject line length must be mobile friendly.

On average, 53 characters is the optimal size for best email subject lines. Android's native email application shows only 30 characters (for 800 x 480px devices), and Gmail's view shows impressive 70 characters. The most used email client for mobile email readers, Apple's iPhone, shows 41 characters on portrait mode.

With these stats, one thing is certain: keep the important words and information right on the beginning of your subject line to catch the reader's eye. Objectivity and concise messages can bring great CTO rates.

Turn it into a call-to-action

If you want your readers to download your ebook or buy your product, you create an attractive CTA. The same goes for your email subject line: its objective is making the reader click your email and read its message.

To lead subscribers on clicking it, a good tactic is being all "mysterious" while exposing your benefit. Something like "What would you do for 20% off on your next purchase?" is great for clothing and utilities. Some companies choose to use a "subjective-active rule", where the email subject line is less "aggressive" than its content.

It should be related to the content

Be sure to show the subscribers what they'll get by clicking on your email. Is it a fresh new piece of content? A new interesting event nearby? Take the email subject line as a preview of the content - you'll reach the right audience if you show right from the start why that email was sent and what benefit it'll provide to the reader.

It's important also to match the voice and tone of communication of the subject line and the body of the email. A humorous subject line with a serious content or vice versa isn't recommended. Your email is a whole entity, and everything should be on the same page (no pun intended, seriously).

Make it more personal

We've stated this in many other blog posts, but we cannot overstate it: people don't get comfortable when talking to a robot. Readers, subscribers, leads or customers, it doesn't matter. Everyone expects a personal communication when receiving an email.

Don't go all automatic when writing your subject line. Make it spontaneous, vivid, friendly and hearty - after all, you're talking to one of your possible customers, and the best thing to do this is by building a strong relationship with them.

Create a sense of urgency

Latest guidelines available: read before they sell out! The "sense of urgency" tactic isn't the biggest novelty but still works like a charm. Readers get that itchy feeling to click on your email.

Although emails with promotional content use this often, you can use this for events with a "last seats available" approach. Limited time webinars and rich content work as well.

Use numbers, statistics and power words

Most people feel tempted to click on emails where subject lines show numbers and statistics, mostly because numbers are related to results and reliable data. Subject lines such as "7 from 9 people recommend this" or "How I increased my blog's organic traffic by 43%" can bring the reader's attention to your email as quick as a flash.

The power words work the same way, being used to motivate the reader, empower the email's benefit and, of course, increase the CTO and conversion rates. Power words are also used for blog posts titles and news headlines, by the same reason: they incite the readers' click.

Personalization equals better CTO

The best thing about good email marketing platforms is that you can personalize the email subject line and the email's body with custom attributes, such as the contact's name, company, location and even gender.

Subscribers feel that the email was especially tailored for them with personalization. Something like "Hey John, here's your weekend gift!" may earn the contact's click-to-open, and even a click inside the email message.

Watch out for spam filters

Have you ever heard about trigger words? To keep the contact's inbox clean, Internet Service Providers (or just ISPs) check every email's subject lines and content. Some words can increase the chances your precious email end up going straight to the spam folder.

For that, you should avoid too many symbols such as $$$ and %%%, abusing the words free, money, discount, off, credit, income, cash, and other related words. These words are used by many spam senders, and should be avoided. You must do everything to keep your email away from the spam folder.

Improve the subject line with A/B testing

If you have questions about your subject lines being effective or not, you should try A/B testing to try different subject lines with the same message.

With it, you can test different subject line lengths, one or another power word, work with numbers or changing the subject line completely. Of course, we recommend you to follow the presented guidelines on each and every subject line alternative, so you can get better CTO rates to your online marketing strategies.

Next steps after the email subject line

Creating a 50 character line doesn't need to be a headache. That's why we've created these guidelines, so you can follow them when the demand of creating the best email subject lines come to your hand.

As the subject line should be the last thing to be created in your email, you can properly send it to your subscribers. Going back to the "mobile devices" topic, don't forget to build a responsive layout for your email, so everyone in your contact list can read it properly.

And again, the subject line should be totally related to the email's content. There's nothing more frustrating than clicking on a great subject line from a boring or irrelevant email. You won't achieve the desired result and it may leave a pretty big stain in your email reputation, and users may not interact with your next email campaigns.

Get right on the planning steps and you'll score with your readers. By following the presented guidelines, we're sure you'll get excellent CTO rates on your emails, so your subscribers will be able to read the email's delightful content and finally click the CTA button. Happy converting!