Low open rate and no conversion?
Have you ever felt that although you’ve got a decent number of subscribers, you still have an incredibly low email open rate?
You’re probably getting confused… not sure what exactly is missing or what you are doing wrong.
Perhaps you’ve read a ton of articles about how to create high-converting email subject lines and felt that you’ve received only general information… and you want somebody to tell you exactly how to do it right.
Did you ever feel a compelling desire to talk with the best Internet/E-mail Marketers in the cyberspace and grill them about their email subject line secrets?
We’ve done the hard work for you.
I asked 11 of some of the most experienced bloggers in today’s times (which I know and admire) this question…
What are your high-converting email subject line and the top #3 lessons you have learned testing multiple subject lines?
We received some wonderful insights that we are happy to share with you.
Enjoy and hope you’ll be inspired and stimulated to create your own high-converting subject lines!
1. Tim Soulo‘s high-converting emails
’m afraid there’s no such thing as a “high-converting email subject line”.
Well, at least this is a very broad question and needs some context.
Who are you sending an email to?
– Your own email subscribers?
– A “cold” list that you’ve purchased from someone?
Every case is different. And there’s no single subject line that would work everywhere.
But here are some lessons I’ve learned:
#1 Write the kind of email subject that you would use to email your friend.
Just think about it.
How would you email your friend? What subject would you use?
“Important Information About The Coat That You Have Left At My House”
I think the answer is obvious.
You would use a short and very descriptive email subject in lowercase letters.
So why don’t you email other people like that?
#2 Make it as personal, as possible.
I have an article on my blog, where I talk about sending an outreach email to Rand Fishkin.
To make sure my email would not go to trash I used a subject line that would immediately hint him that this email is personalised. That it’s not just a template that I’m sending to 99 more people.
So whenever you’re trying to reach influential people – try to be as personalised as possible. They get hundreds of “templated” email outreach emails daily and I’m sure most of them don’t even get opened.
#3 Can’t make it personal? Make it relevant!
When reaching out to influencers it’s always better to refrain from mass mail and follow the personalised approach.
But when sending an email update to your own list of subscribers, you can’t get personal with each of them.
So you should at least try to make it relevant for them.
- Who are your subscribers?
- Why did they join your email list in the first place?
- What are they expecting from you?
- What are their pain points?
- How can you be valuable to them?
Once you answer all these questions – you’ll be able to come up with great subject lines that would easily hook them.
2. Tor Refsland’s high-converting emails
You are probably not testing your subject line in your emails…
because you are uncomfortable.
Nah, who are we kidding?
You are AFRAID!
What if people WON`T open your emails, or even WORSE…
unsubscribe (yeah, I said it).
You want to know a funny thing?
You have to make sacrifices in the short-term in order to get long-term reward.
Yeah, while your are in testing mode some people might not open your emails and some people might even unsubscribe.
Too bad for them. They weren`t a part of your tribe after all.
And you want to know a secret?
If you scared them off by testing a subject line, they would probably never become one of your raving fans anyway.
The good thing?
If you were to test subject lines on your emails and managed to increase open rate with 10%, that could have major impact for your business. Let`s say that you have a 1% conversion rate on your sales emails (just for the sake of simplicity).
In the future when you have 100 000 subscribers, 10% increased open rate will mean 10 000 MORE people opened your email.
10 000 more people opening your email with 1% conversion rate is…
100 more sales!
If you sold a $100 product that would result in $10 000 more in sales!
Have those numbers in mind the next time you are afraid to test out your subject lines.
My best subject line so far is: “I got a surprise for you…”
Here are my 3 lessons I`ve learned from testing multiple subject lines:
- What you think might work, most likely won`t work (and the other way around)
- You have to detach your emotions when you are testing
- The only way to improve conversion is to test, test and test
3. Andy Crestodina‘s high-converting emails
My top performing subject line in the last three years was this…
How To Improve Your Google Rankings In 5 Minutes
A very close second was this headline…
131 Words That Increase Website Traffic
and the top #3 lessons you’ve learned testing multiple subject lines
After eight years of email marketing, here are a few lessons I’ve learning about writing subjects lines:
1. Prescriptive headlines work best
If the subscriber sees that there is some specific benefit, that they will be able to take and apply as if it was a prescription, they’ll be far more likely to click.
For the subscriber, it’s all about ROI. They want to know what return (practical information) they’ll get for their investment (2 minutes of their time).
2. They don’t have to be the same as the article headline
A “headline” can be many things, a subject line, a title tag, header text, a social media post, etc. So headlines can (and should) be tailored to their purpose.
You don’t want the reader to lose the “information scent” so don’t change them too much, but it usually makes sense to change them to suit the purpose.
Subject lines have nothing to do with search engine rankings, so drop the keywords and focus on psychology.
3. The subject line is the first link in a long chain
And that chain may have other weak links. The purpose of the subject is to get the open… Once opened, the purpose of the teaser text in the email is to get the click…
Once clicked, the purpose of the headline on the landing page is the get the reader to move down the page…
The best subject line in the world won’t help you if you have a weak link farther down the chain. Follow the path through to the end, finding and eliminating any friction or confusion.
4. Ashley Faulkes‘s high-converting emails
The best subject line I have used was based on a popular blog post on Mad Lemmings (my bog). The subject line was:
Multiply Your Email Subscribers Like Rabbits (with this simple trick)
I have tried a variety of subject lines in weekly blog emails, and also in email campaigns and this was one of the best.
What did I learn from this email subject?
1. I find that something surprising or humorous tends to get attention when people have so many boring emails coming into their inbox every day. Sure, my humor is a bit strange, but would you open an email that involved rabbits? Most people did.
2. Another thing that I think gets people to open an email is the promise of something useful or actionable. And this subject line delivers on both of those. It tells the reader that they could increase their email list fast (like rabbits).
Worth opening, right?
3. The last lesson I learned from this email was that adding a small extra bit at the end (in this case – “with one simple trick”) can have a huge effect.
After getting the reader’s attention with humor, telling them what they will learn, I finish by telling them it is done with just a simple trick. Too good to turn down!
Of course, it is never as simple as copying what has worked from someone else and repeating it.
You have to take the lessons above and try them on your audience and with your content and see if it works. It might not. So keep testing, and learning from what kinds of things people react to.
If you want you can read my guide on content marketing strategy here.
5. Chris Karasiewic‘s high-converting emails
Anything with a sense of urgency. Download now, free online course and so forth.
When testing multiple subject lines, I can’t stress enough how important it is to test different variations.
Typically, subject lines that focus on highlighting a problem and a solution perform very well so don’t overlook those.
When testing different subject lines, I also find that a simple subject line performs best.
If you have figures such as “10 Ways…” or “How X company increased their traffic by 20x…,” those also tend to be well-received.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to keep testing. If you find you get a better open-rate from one email to another, review your emails regularly and keep working that angle until it doesn’t work anymore.
And if you really want more information, reach out to some of the people on your email list and ask them why they opened your email.
This will help give you additional insight into the email subject lines you should keep using and why.
6. Barry Fenning‘s high-converting emails
Breaking through the noise within the inbox has become a huge challenge over the past few years due to the massive amount of information we’re presented with as individuals.
We’re exposed to hundreds of posts from friends, groups, brands, communities, etc. on various social networks, as well as the usual plethora of advertisements we’re seeing on more traditional mediums each day.
Although each newsletter and email announcement we send to our customers is highly targeted, we have seen considerable success when using relevant emojis within subject lines.
I use the term “relevant” as the use of emojis has to be appropriate to both the audience and the message you’re communicating.
We’ve achieved considerably higher open rates when taking this approach, and increased CTRs when the theme of the newsletter is consistent to that of the subject line (including design elements relevant to the type of images used within the subject line).
Optimised preview text is another specific area of email marketing where we’ve seen considerable success when testing multiple subject lines.
The preview text needs to a draw readers’ attention to key points of a message and has helped us to greatly increase our open rates.
Used in conjunction with short and eye-catching subject lines, well-structured preview text can offer considerable value to the reader.
7. Chris Lee‘s high-converting emails
My high-converting email subject line was “Uh oh… I almost forgot to send this to you.” It was for an outreach campaign for one of my sites, essentially asking for a share for a piece of content… and it worked surprisingly well.
Three lessons I learned from testing subject lines:
1. Using unconventional words, and “keeping it casual” is a lot more effective than being professional.
You want someone to share a piece of content? Using a subject line like “You have to see this…” works better for me than something like “Here’s something you can share with your audience.”
2. If you know their name, just a simple “Hey name” in the subject line works very well. If anyone emails me with the subject line “Hey Chris” I’m usually opening it everytime.
Spammers usually don’t email me with a subject line like that. Only people who know me do.
3. A subject line in all lower case letters doesn’t improve open rates. At least for my tests it didn’t.
My test size was small, but it actually led to a decrease in open rates. This isn’t a do-or die piece of advice, but still noteworthy as I see a lot of people talking about it these days.
8. Chris Makara‘s high-converting emails
It’s no secret that subject lines have the biggest impact on setting the foundation for a successful email campaign. With everyone’s inbox jammed packed of new emails, it’s important to get the most out of your subject line.
On a recent outreach campaign, I used the subject line “Quick Question About Social Media Management” and it received an excellent reply rate.
In this initiative, I was not after a sale but instead looking for participants in an expert round up.
The reason this worked so well is that it let the person know exactly what the message entailed as well as the brevity of it. They knew it was going to be quick (which it was) and also knew exactly what it was going to be about.
When they opened the email, it delivered on exactly what the subject line had promised. I had no problems getting over 100 experts to respond.
Through the years, I have learned many things through testing subject lines. My top 3 lessons learned (and still learning) are:
1. Be direct
There’s no sense fluffing up your subject lines with extra text or try to get too creative. You need to get to the point.
So I have found it best to remove as much irrelevant text as I can in order to provide a direct, concise message.
2. Be timely
Some of the best results have come from sending the right message at the right time. While this doesn’t necessarily have to do with the subject line, the subject line can enhance/introduce the timeliness aspect of the message and generate more opens.
3. Be consistent
No one likes to feel like they have been duped. Therefore, your subject line should reflect what the email will contain.
Don’t write subject lines that don’t line up with the content just to generate higher open rates.
What good is a high open rate if no one is going to take action on the content inside the email?
I will be honest with you… These are not my high-converting email subject lines (got a couple I know only work well with my type of list), but they are nonetheless very good ones that helped me generate a lot of traffic and make a lot of sales.
Important note, these were sent to different lists of mine, for different reasons. Some of my lists are more active than the ones used below, so you need to do your own testing, but the ones I chose to show you are ones that can work in most niches.
A subject line as simple as “This is Hard to Believe…” (13.85% open rate) can be very effective.
Of course, you can’t use this subject line in all situations, but if you can, you should give it a try.
It’s hard for most people to resist. What’s hard to believe? A lot of people are naturally curious.
Another good one is “Please keep this to yourself…” (13.43%) What’s the secret? Even if it’s something people don’t care about, a lot of them would at least want to know what it is, and open the email… A decent alternative is: “This must be kept a secret…” (10.87%).
Descriptive subject lines can also be very effective: like “How to Build … in 30 Minutes or Less” (28.14%) and “Why … Matter & How to Get More” (23.92%). I also like to use scarcity: “Last Chance (Seriously)…” (35.50%), “Closing…” (20.32%) but then again it depends on the situation.
Sometimes funny subject lines work quite well, like “Bigger Than Kim Kardashian’s… ;)” (13.56%). As you can see from above, Scarcity types really work (over 35% and over 20% open rates on a big list is quite good).
I would say that most of my high-converting subject lines are quite short. I’ve become a big fan of short subject lines… The kind of subject lines that go straight to the point and have just one goal: make the recipient open the email.
Using the subject line as an introduction to the email is nice, but it doesn’t guarantee a high open rate. The best ones are often the ones that create interest. Talk about secrets, good (or bad) news, etc.
Things that make people think: what is this?
Finally, I would say that it’s quite important to think outside the box. People receive so many emails every day… You need to be creative.
Easier said than done, but if your subject lines are boring, people will never open your emails, which would then turn into a big waste of time (and money).
You should always dedicate some time to the subject line every time you draft an email.
10. Dennis Seymour‘s high-converting emails
I got the best open rates from these 3 techniques.
1. Anything that’s Relevant and FREE
Eg. Test out our Free Schema Plugin
I test 3 subject lines per send out and using the Free method worked significantly better.
2. The Promise of Something Quick – Instant Gratification
Eg. Ain’t No Joke – Just a Quick Promo Tip
I promised something quick and it got opened immediately. Out performed other “tip” related titles I sent out.
3. Being Personal and Making Them Expect Something
Eg. I’ve always wanted an SEO Checklist…
Expectation is a powerful thing when harnessed correctly. This was a simple test. I pitted it against a title based on the Relevant and Free technique and this version performed equally.
- Longer subject lines should start with something intriguing or it will not work at all.
- Questions are a hit or miss. Make it intriguing and not sound like a robot.
- Using symbols do increase the open rates but never overdo it.
11. Dustin W. Stout‘s high-converting emails
To this date, my high-converting subject line has been “Much goodies for you!” It was pretty puzzling at first, but after testing hundreds of email subject lines, I think I found a few important takeaways:
1. Never be too serious.
Email sucks. I don’t know a single person that gets up in the morning and says to themselves “Oh boy, I can’t wait to check my inbox today!”
It’s a necessary evil for most people. So the last thing they need is another boring marketing headline. Try to bring some levity into it and leave the marketing talk in the dark corner it crawled out from.
2. Talk like a real person.
In my most successful subject lines, I kept the subject line casual and in sentence case (rather than title case where every first letter of each word is capitalized). This feels more organic and human made rather than polished and machined.
3. Make it about them.
The person opening this email needs to know instantly that they’re getting something out of it. Remember everyone’s favorite radio station?
It’s WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and your subject line needs to communicate, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this email is all about them.
Take email marketing to the next level!
You’ve read how these experienced email marketers are testing multiple subject lines in their business. All you have to do is take their examples to the bank and profit in your own ventures.
Once you start creating your own subject lines you too can see your open rates boost like never before.
I hope you enjoyed the expert insights so onto this note, I wanted to thank you and the marketers involved to help create the article and spread awareness about it. You make the hard work count.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below, and why not, maybe share some email subject line examples from your own activity.
If you have found these email marketing tips interesting and helpful, don’t hesitate to share. Remember: sharing is caring.