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How do I write a good email subject line?

Every email has a subject line (or definitely should!), but are you aware of the best practices behind those ubiquitous 1-liners? A poorly crafted subject line that doesn’t fully resonate with your readers can result in lost opportunities to connect with them, and ultimately a lost sale. Think of the subject line as a first impression, and make sure it’s a good one! Here are 6 facts to think about when crafting your subject lines:

Rising to the top 24.88%

If you still don’t believe the subject line needs heavy consideration, consider this: your attendees’ inboxes are stuffed with emails all competing for their attention (88 per day, to be exact! Bizzabo How Not To get Swiped). The way they decide what to open or delete is by, you guessed it, looking at the subject line!

Only 24.88% of emails are opened in the non-profit industry, and the click-through rate is 2.81% (click to tweet).

You can bet that those few opened emails had eye-catching subject lines.

A good email subject line is short and sweet!

You want your subject line to be concise, but also display fully in the attendee’s inbox! A gold standard for subject lines is that they should be between 40-50 characters, with important words placed in the beginning to ensure they will display. But that doesn’t mean they can never be longer than that, it depends on your approach.

Customize them!

According to the 2014 Science of Email Marketing report, emails that included the first name of the recipient in their subject line had higher CTRs than emails that did not. The more you can segment your list of attendees and delegates, the more you can customize both the subject and body of your email by making the copy relevant to them.

Create urgency

When your email is informing attendees of deadlines or dates (which is often the case in event marketing), it’s a good idea to include the deadline in your email subject line. Time-sensitive language like “last chance” or “one day left” also works to create a sense of urgency.

Use the right appeal

When urgency isn’t the appropriate mood you want to create, you can find great success with other kinds of appeals. The most successful ones include self-interest, piquing curiosity, making an offer, humanity (like “I was wrong” and “Thank You!”), and news. If you know the personas of your attendees, and if it’s in line with your event marketing campaign, nothing should stop you from using a unique, non-generic appeal in your subject lines.

Remove elements of spam!

Spam words like “free” and “buy now”, with several exclamation points or all caps, generally turn people off. If the attendee’s spam filter didn’t already delete a spammy email, the attendee surely will. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t reformulate your sales pitch so that it provides more value to the recipient. The key to this is to use actionable language so that the reader knows what they could do with the information in the email. Instead of ordering attendees to “Get the FREE conference app today!!!”, you may want to highlight the value the app offers in a more neutral, but still compelling, tone: “Personalize your participation with the event app.” Here is a great list of words that either sell or repel.

Use keywords for easy ID and higher CTRs!

Remember how many emails your attendees get per day? There’s a good chance your email gets lost in the shuffle after it’s opened. But don’t worry! You included a good subject line that is easily identifiable and has logical keywords. When the event participant needs to pull it up again, they’ll find it quickly. Phew! Clear, straightforward, and specific email subject lines always win over catchy-but-confusing ones. Here’s even more insight on email copy!

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An example of a good email subject line

An example of a mediocre subject line

Bonus Tip: Real-life examples!

Here are 2 examples of subject lines appearing in our inbox. The first one is from writer and social engagement manager Danny Brown, whose blog posts get sent to us in the form of a newsletter. Whether you’re familiar with his writing or not, the subject line is sure to intrigue you! He uses “you” as if he knows you, and his assumption that you’re not a big deal is a jab at your credibility. In a short and succinct way, Brown’s subject line makes it so that you can’t not open his email!
Let’s compare this to an email about the American Marketing Association’s annual conference. The subject line is generic and doesn’t generate excitement about the event. It’s not customized, and it’s too long. In the end, this strictly informative subject line fails to create a sense of urgency that event registration periods benefit from.

Tools for Evaluating Subject Lines

This free tool instantly tells you if you’ve written a good email subject line based on a variety of metrics, including word length and sense of urgency created!

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
The Headline Analyzer can help with subject lines, and of course the headlines in your email and blog posts. You’ll instantly see the kinds of words you’ve included, and what’s lacking. You’ll even see a Google search preview, a character count, and even the sentiment your headline conveys!

MailChimp Subject Line Researcher
If you use MailChimp, be sure to try out the Subject Line Research tool! Enter a keyword, and the mail provider suggests combinations of words that perform best. Now you can see if the subject line you had in mind is indeed the best option.

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