Let's Talk
Let's Talk



Picture of Kimberlie Williams
Written by Kimberlie Williams
Listen to this blog post:

What can be wrong with your subject lines?

Email is still the king of content. Worldwide, more people use it than all social media combined. 86% of business professionals also prefer to communicate over email. There’s only one thing stopping most companies and it’s making sure their email is opened in the first place. Here are some reasons why your subject lines may not be grabbing the open rates you think they deserve:

 Buyer Persona Ebook CTA


Your Subject Lines Are Too Long and Unclear

Many companies try to keep their subject lines to between 20 characters to 50 characters, but studies have shown the fewer words used in subject line, the more likely it is to be opened. 3 or 4 words have the highest levels of engagement. This may have to do with people most people checking their email on mobile, so subject lines that are shorter are less likely to be skipped over during their busy schedule. Being clear and direct also aids people who don’t want to waste time deciphering the hidden meaning of your subject line. Give them all the detail they need in the fewest words possible.

You Aren’t Going Above and Beyond With Personalization

It’s time to face the facts. Everyone’s caught on to personalization tokens and that includes your customers. Many no longer feel that receiving emails addressing them by name is special, so you have to bring a new level of excitement to the table. Refer to them by name, but tell them that you’ve done something specifically for them. 

It could be a video where you use their name. It could be including details of past conversations. It could be segmented content catered to their interests. It could be their recent purchases. Whatever it is, when the content of the email is specifically catered to them, people take notice. Personalized subject lines make people more likely to remember and appreciate your business because you’ve made them feel special and treat them like an individual.


You Aren’t Teasing the Content

Treat your subject lines like a secret door leading to the grand prize waiting on the other side. Don’t let everything out of the bag in the preview. Tease the content inside, but in an interesting way. A proper teaser should make people feel like they have to open the email or they may be missing out on valuable information. For example, if your email is about an update in policy, use a subject line that will tease some portion of the content inside your customers may find surprising, exciting, or urgent.

 Buyer Persona Ebook CTA


You Aren’t Keeping It Conversational

People rebel against being hounded by a sales team and pushed into a purchase, so of course emails sent in this fashion are more likely to be ignored. If you can make your subject lines sound like a helpful friend rather than someone trying to get their next sale, more people will want to open your emails.

For example, Etsy sent their customers an email about the “color of the year” and inside included links to dresses in that color. Obviously they were hoping for sales of those dresses, but they did not make that the main focus of the email. Instead they led with information that those interested in fashion trends would find interesting.


You Aren’t Delivering Your Educational Content Properly

Another way to get people’s attention from the subject line is to give them educational content. A great way to do this is to tell lead people in with what they may be doing wrong. You may have guessed it, but this blog is titled “Why Subject Lines May Be The Reason People Aren’t Opening Your Emails” for a reason.

No one likes to be wrong, so they’ll most likely click just to make sure they aren’t doing anything on the list. People have an innate need to constantly improve upon what they’re doing, so try to deliver educational content in a way that will make them want to see if they’re on the right path.


You’re Not Incorporating Context 

Businesses create different segments of customers for a reason—to speak to their unique interests, goals, and challenges. This context shouldn’t begin and end inside the email, it should incorporated into all aspects of it. 

Some customers may respond well to a more playful subject line, while others will want something more clear and technical. It’s all in their personal profiles. These should include information like: What times are they available? What social or economic context would make them more likely to click? Would incorporating a reference to their favorite TV show or book make them click? If you’re not sure, research and A/B testing can help narrow it down.


You Aren’t Rewarding Your Customers

Try to go the extra mile for your customers and reward them back for their loyalty. It doesn’t have to be something extraordinary, it can often be found among the information your customers naturally give you. Spotify sends emails telling their customers when artists they listen to are performing in their area. It’s something their customers never asked for, but it’s something all music enthusiasts can appreciate.


Request a Free Marketing Assessment