Home » Blog » Can We Just Change the Subject Line? 5 Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates.

Can We Just Change the Subject Line? 5 Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates.

Email is like the micro-equivalent of an elevator pitch. Except instead of having 30 seconds to make a favorable impression on strangers, you only have about 3 seconds to persuade your subscribers to open it. 

The subject line is the linchpin that drives your email marketing, Low open rates are lost opportunities for creating sales, building customer relationships or getting more referrals. 

So, the subject line has to be good. Or your subscribers will view your email as “junk” (ouch) and nothing more than a speed bump to getting other things done.   

I often think of the resources and logistics that go into creating an email, determining the strategy, the copy points, the imagery, and the call-to-action. And then I wonder how much time and effort went into crafting the subject lines.   

By the time I look at those emails, it’s the end of the day. Thanks to Sanebox, I get a daily summary of all the email newsletters that have been diverted to my SaneNews folder, so I’m no longer distracted by them coming into my inbox at all hours. 

Even though I’ve pared down my email subscriptions, like a lot of people, I’m still on dozens of lists. 

I may be experiencing a late afternoon bonk when I take a glance at the long list of emails that have arrived and decide what’s worthy of my attention. 

What I open depends entirely on the quality of subject line. Did it pique my interest? Did it offer any tangible value?  Was it the least bit relatable or even entertaining? Was it truly newsworthy? If it checks any of these boxes, I’ll read it eventually. It’s the least I can do for my peers who worked so hard to put together a decent email.   

How to improve your email newsletter subject lines:

1.) Start by getting feedback on the emails you’ve already sent. 

Dive into the data to see what your open rates have been. How do they compare to others in your industry? You may view the average open rates by industry compiled by Constant Contact and Mail Chimp. It can be very motivating to be able to track your improvement and compete for better metrics. 

2.) Stop channeling late-night TV infomercials.

Certain phrases will automatically send your email to spam folders. In fact, there are hundreds of phrases that may result in your email being penalized. You can learn about them by reading this helpful post by AutoPilotHQ. You can also test your email in advance for any spam triggers with free tools such as Spam Check by Postmark or Send Forensics.

3.) Brainstorm several lines. 

Take the time to prioritize the subject line development. There are many helpful online tools available that will grade your subject line, before you ever hit “send.” For example, Email Subject Line Grader by Net Atlantic or SubjectLine.com. Play with a few variations to see how you can improve the performance of your next email’s open rate.

4.) Consider the length of the subject line. 

What is the email subject line character limit? Ideally, it should be between five to seven words, 50-65 characters to be precise. When you preview your subject line, does your line get cut off because it’s too long? Can you make a more compelling statement in fewer characters? Or do you have extra wiggle room to say something more persuasive? Another free tool, Email Subject Line Grader by Net Atlantic will give you immediate feedback on the subject line length as well as suggestions to improve it. 

5.) Bear in mind, the frequency of the emails you send. 

If you’re sending out multiple email newsletters weekly or monthly, you may be relying on the same keywords over and over again. Which may lead your readers to lose interest since they’ve grown to expect the same lead-ins and sales copy. You may find using different verbiage will not only keep your messaging fresh and enticing, but also lead to better open rates.  

By following these email subject lines best practices, you’ll be able to test rather than guess which lines will work better for you.