7 Tips on How to Write Headlines for Emails That People Will Open
At least some time in the last month, you've likely looked at an email headline, thought "meh", and deleted the email without even reading it. If your subscribers do the same thing, that's a big problem.
Here's why it matters. Email is still one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. According to DMA Insight, 99% of people check email daily.
And according to Adestra, most consumers prefer to communicate with businesses via email. Email marketing also delivers great ROI: £32.28 for each £1 spent, according to the DMA. That equates to around $42 for every 76 cents spent. Pretty appealing, right?
But to get those benefits, plus conversions and sales, you need your subscribers to open your emails. Amazingly, even though people like to get email, 80% of people don't read the emails businesses send. According to MailChimp, the average email open rate across all industries is only about 20%.
If you want to beat the odds, you'll need to write compelling headlines for emails that make recipients want to click. Today, we'll share some tips to help you do just that.
1. Avoid spammy words
The words you use in email headlines can have a big impact on whether people even see your email — 21% of emails never make it to the inbox because they get flagged as spam. Phrases like "get paid", "make money", and "you are a winner" are just some of the culprits.
Punctuation matters, too. If your email subject line is liberally sprinkled with dollar signs and exclamation marks, those also can trigger email spam filters. Your best bet? Avoid spam trigger words altogether and use some of our other tips to write enticing headlines for emails.
Want another way to stay out of the spam box? Make sure your email is coming from a recognized domain and sender, otherwise recipients might flag it or ignore it.
Here are a few other ways to make your email headlines appealing.
2. Use psychology
There are a whole bunch of things the human brain is wired to respond to. Use one of these psychological triggers in your email marketing, and you'll get more people opening your emails. It's practically guaranteed. Here are a couple to try out.
For example, you can ask a question to inspire curiosity, as in these email headlines we recently read:
- We're doing a presale - can you help?
- Need Money for Back to School?
- Were your relatives in the last battles of WW1?
Another technique is to create a sense of urgency or use the fear of missing out (FOMO), which triggers loss aversion. When people know there's a deadline, they definitely want to act.
Examples which use both urgency and FOMO include:
- Time is running out
- 12 Free Courses - for a limited time
- Did you hear? There's a flash sale coming
3. Use action words
An email subject line is a bit like a call to action. It's your first chance to get recipients to open your email. Using action words can speed up the process. Some examples are:
- Steal our email template
- Create a fun quiz in minutes
- Get miles 10% off
For best results, include those words at the start of the email headline. We'll tell you why in our next tip.
4. Keep email headlines short
These days, the best email headlines are short. That's because mobile devices are now primary devices for checking emails. If you have a long headline, you risk having it be cut off when people see it in their email app. Keep it short, and you don't have that problem.
That's also why you should put the most important part of your email headline near the front — it ensures that every recipient knows what your email is about. A roundup of several studies says 17-24 characters works best for the mobile market. Of course, you can go longer if your audience connects via laptops and desktops.
5. Play it straight
There's nothing wrong with telling recipients exactly what's inside. Most people will open email if they think there's something in it for them. If you have an offer, free gift, or a deal, then be sure to say so (but remember to avoid those spammy words). Here are some we've seen recently:
- Social media webinar: join today
- Your ebook freebies for Sunday
- My book was released today. Get it now
6. Use emojis
Emojis get attention, evoke emotion, and can increase open rates, according to several case studies. So it's a good idea to see if they work for your audience. Not everyone likes them, but they can be a way to connect with recipients quickly. Your best bet is to test your email headlines to see what results you get.
7. Write multiple headlines
Finally, most professional marketers write multiple headlines for every piece of content before choosing the best ones. You can do the same with headlines for emails.
Start with the ones that describe the content of your email, then expand. Don't be afraid to try headlines with humor, puns, and those that are completely off the wall. The point is to get the creative juices flowing, so you get a couple of headlines you'll actually want to use.
Once you've got your headlines, test. Most email marketing software comes with an A/B testing tool that will send different headlines to random sets of recipients, so you can figure out what headlines gets the best open rate. Over time, you'll be able to use the most successful ones as templates to create even more successful email headlines.