Sharon Hurley Hall Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional freelance writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with her on Twitter @SHurleyHall.
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Practical Tips For Creating Effective Email Newsletters
If you want to get your customers' attention, email still rocks. Research by Marketing Sherpa shows that 70 percent of people prefer companies that communicate with them via email. There's just one problem: email overload. It's real. A recent report from the Radicati Group shows that in 2015, 205.6 billion emails were sent and received daily, worldwide. Of those, 112.5 million were business emails, meaning an average of 122 sent and received per person, per day. It's no wonder we spend 28 percent of our time reading and answering email! And the problem will only get worse. By 2019, the Radicati Group expects the number of emails sent and received daily to reach 246.5 billion emails, 128.8 billion of them business emails. All this makes it harder to get people's attention. That's why your email subject line is so important. It's the first thing people see when your email comes in and unless you get it right, some people will never even see your actual message. To help, here are 10 tips for writing email subject lines that make people click.
10 tips for writing email subject lines people want to click
1. Keep it short
When you're writing email subject lines, keep them short and sweet. Not everyone agrees on the ideal length, but Retention Science found that subject lines between 6 and 10 words have the highest open rate (about 21 percent).
Another reason to keep it brief is that most desktop email programs show only about 60 characters, and mobile devices only show about half of that. The examples above feature subject lines that would work well for both desktop and mobile.
2. Be clear and specific
When people are browsing email, it's easy to skim past headlines. Most people want to know what's inside before clicking through. An Aweber email subject line test found that subject lines that were clear received 541 percent more response than those that were creative. The above emails from Asos and Bookbub are good examples of clear subject lines. Telling people what they're going to get or learn, or how they will benefit is a great incentive for getting recipients to open and read the email. Similarly, if you're delivering on something your readers have ordered or requested, let them know that in the subject line. It will make them much more likely to click.

3. Get personal Personalization is key to effective marketing. That's why it pays to use it in email subject lines. People like when you use their names; it’s a technique that immediately attracts attention. The Expert Institute, for example, found that using personalization increased conversion rates by 200 percent. The below email from LinkedIn uses two techniques, addressing me by name and creating a sense of urgency (more on that later).
Most email marketing software has personalization features built in. Use the necessary shortcodes or tags, and you can send your subscribers targeted emails addressing them by name in the subject line.
4. Use the spam checker Obviously, your emails won't get clicked if people never see them. A common issue that stops people from reading and clicking email is when email programs flag them as spam. This doesn't mean it is; it simply means that a word in your email or subject line has triggered the filter. According to Marketingsherpa, this happens to 11 percent of email. Ways to avoid this include:
  • Using the spam checker built into your email marketing program
  • Sending yourself a test message to see if it arrives
  • Avoiding trigger words that affect deliverability

5. Watch your words Similarly, it's a good idea to know which words make people click. While avoiding spam filter trigger words, don't forget to include words that appeal. Buffer has a huge roundup of research, resources (and the words themselves) that's definitely worth the read.
It explains how people instinctively react to the use of language. In other words, using the right words does makes a difference. Use the proven conversion magnets on Buffer's list and you'll be off to a great start.
6. Create intrigue Sometimes it pays to make people want more; to tease them a bit. A subject line that people find intriguing will make them more likely to click through to learn more, just as certain movie trailers make you want to get movie tickets. The following subject lines would work here:
  • “Could this be possible?”
  • “You’ll like this one”
  • “Don’t open this email”
To make this tactic work, think about what your readers DON'T know about the subject of your email. Can you use this as a lure? Just be sure to follow with a well-crafted story that informs or entertains, otherwise the reader will feel deceived.
7. Make it urgent Sending an email that screams urgency is another good way to get people to click. If you have an offer that's available in limited quantities or for a limited time, let people know that in the subject line. And include a call to action within it. This technique is proven to work. On ConversionXL, Marcus Taylor tells how he increased sales by 332 percent by creating a sense of urgency in places such as his subject lines. And Pete Godfrey adds that the fear of loss is a powerful motivator. Think about how your readers will miss out if they don't take your offer - and then include that in your subject line. Here are some examples:
  • “Registration discount ends tonight!”
  • “Offer expires tomorrow at noon. Don’t miss out”
  • “Last chance to claim your coupon”
8. Use numbers and lists We already know that using numbers and lists work well for increasing blog readership. According to Backlinko, titles with numbers are 36 percent more likely to get clicks, and odd numbers have a 20 percent better click through rate than even numbers. Buzzfeed uses this technique often with its content.
This also applies to email subject lines. Numbers make us more curious, and curiosity wins clicks. If your content lends itself to using numbers, use them, but make sure to deliver when people click through.
9. Include a CTA Often the best way to get people to take action is to ask. Sometimes, as mentioned in #7, this is about creating urgency. But other times, your call to action may ask for help, shares, votes or or some other action the reader can easily take. This example from Web.Search.Social simply asks folks to open and read, but it works.
10. Test for the best The best predictor of what will work is what has already worked. That's why you need to test our email subject lines to see what your audience best responds to. If your email marketing provider allows it, run a split test with two (or more) headlines to see which one works best. Or set up your own test by sending the same email to people who didn't click the first time with a different headline. CoSchedule often tests headlines on Twitter (see below), another effective method of testing.
Remember, while there's lots of good advice out there (including right here), running your own tests with your audience will help you learn what works best for you.
Tools for testing email subject lines
If you want to test your email subject lines here are a few tools you can use, in addition to those already built into your email marketing software of choice.
  • The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer lets you check word use and placement so you can tell what people are most likely to see and appeal to. It also checks for power words and more.
  • The Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer looks at the emotional value of your headline for different sectors.
  • If your email marketing is based on your blog, then test your titles in WordPress with the Title Experiments Free plugin.
  • Use a tweet, suggests Higher Visibility, and see which version gets more online attention.
  • Run a test in Optimizely or any other conversion optimization software.
Keeping email subject lines short, clear and specific, using the right words and numbers, and avoiding known spam triggers will help you get more clicks when people see them. This is your first step to getting more readers for your content and attracting people who will become long term customers. Don't forget to test for success with the tools listed above because in the end, you might have to break some of these rules to attract your audience.
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Write An Email Subject Line People Want To Click
By Sharon Hurley Hall
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