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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Get Your Email Opened: Subject Line Best Practices

Frustrated that your email open rates are so low? Or are you happy that your open rates are above average, but you want to boost them further?

The recipient makes a decision as to whether to open your message based on two simple pieces of information: The sender and the subject. If your name is a reason people aren’t opening your emails, you must have acquired a rather unsavory reputation, perhaps as a spammer whose content is of no interest. I can’t help you with that reputation problem. 

But there’s hope for your Subject lines. Here are our top five recommendations to produce Subject lines that will increase those open rates:

1. Keep the Subject line short. Research shows it should be 50 characters or less.

Longer Subject lines are often not displayed in an Inbox list or preview. Whatever you’re going to say in that Subject area, say it right away and keep it succinct.

2. Make it specific and localized – and tailored to the prospect, if at all possible.

Generalities don’t work well. Anything that zeroes in will result in more opens. Zero in on a point, or on the recipient’s geographic area, or best of all, zero in on something you know to be true about your prospect.

3. Avoid sounding hype-y. People read that as spammy. The worst word to use is FREE!

Maybe a little hype might work if you’re trying to sell candy to a six-year-old, but from one businessperson to another, hype is identified with junk, with worthless offers. Tone it down. Sound like you’re a professional business colleague.

4. Give the recipient a sense of your Valid Business Reason for emailing them today.

Remember, the Valid Business Reason is not why you are reaching out to the prospect—it’s why the prospect should reach back to you. It’s their reason, not yours. It’s magic. 

5. Best Subject line ever: The name of a person who referred you. Who can resist that?

Get thee a referral from someone who the prospect knows and respects. It’s the one way we know to push the likelihood of an open up to around 100% 

Yes, it can be hard to meet all of those requirements in every Subject line you write. But that’s no reason not to try, no reason to chuck this list. Rather, you should post the list right above your desk and check it every time. See how many of these five best practices you can achieve with each Subject line.

To make it easier for you to post this advice where you’ll see it all the time, we’ve created a handsome, colorful poster for you… 8.5 x 11. Click the image below and download (or, for a full-sized version, click here). Print it, post it, push your open rates up!


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Topics: Digital