The first step to engaging your audience is to get them to open the email, which means making a good first impression with your subject line and preheader. It can sometimes feel more like art than science, but we’ll break down how subject lines and preheaders can be optimized to drive open rates and boost engagement.


What is the difference between a subject line and preheader?


The subject line of an email is the single line of text people see when they receive your email. This one line of text can often determine whether an email is opened or sent straight to the trash, so make sure it’s optimized for your audience. In the email subject line example below, the subject line is the bold text that says “Get Your New Gear for the New Year.”




An email preheader is another element of your email that a subscriber will see in their email inbox. It’s the text that follows the email subject and previews the content of your email. Using the example above, the preheader is the text that starts with “Start 2024 Off Rockin’, Rollin’”


What elements are essential for a subject line?


CTCT_12SLTweaks.pngSubject lines should be:


Attention-getting: To make your email stand out, use a catchy subject line that grabs attention. Consider using the recipient's name and emojis to separate your business from others in the inbox.


Relevant to the content of the email: Craft subject lines that are relevant and give recipients a clear idea of what to expect in your email. Promotional emails, for example, should highlight the value or relevance of your product, like a deluxe hair dryer or a summer sale on cargo shorts.


Actionable: Consider the main goal and call to action of your email campaign. What action do you want your audience to take? Whether it's making a purchase, signing up for an event, or any other desired action, ensure that your subject line clearly communicates your business's intention.


Personalized: People tend to pay attention when they see something familiar, like their own name, in their inbox. Utilize dynamic fields to automatically include the recipient's name in your subject lines.


Short and sweet: To prevent your subject line from being cut off in the inbox, keep it concise. Your subject line should effectively convey urgency, excitement, intrigue, or any other desired emotion in just a few words.


Timely: Ensure your subject line conveys a sense of timeliness, urging your audience to open your business' email promptly. Craft an exclusive tone in your subject line to emphasize the importance of acting promptly.


Not in all caps: Using all caps in your subject line can trigger the reader's instinct that the email might be spam. It's best to avoid using all caps whenever possible. If you do choose to use all caps, limit it to one or two words.


How to craft the best subject line?



With the best practices in mind, there is still the matter of actually writing the darn things! Of course, not everyone has time to sit around and think of the greatest subject line ever, so utilize some creative technology to help narrow down the possibilities:



Have AI do it for you: Generative AI can take some of the guesswork out by offering you suggestions for subject lines in a matter of seconds! Capitalize on AI to finesse language you’ve already thought of or to inspire you to come up with something original. We also have a tool that will scan your email and come up with recommend subject lines and preheaders you can choose from!



Utilize A/B Testing:  Your audience can do the heavy lifting by letting you know which subject lines they respond to more positively with A/B testing. For example, create two versions: one emphasizing urgency (A) and the other highlighting exclusivity (B). Send to a small group (10-20% of the audience) and analyze open rates. Use the subject line with the highest open rate for the rest of the audience.



HOG-11.jpgReview the reporting: Whether you’re using A/B testing or not, it’s helpful to review your recent campaigns and see what campaigns fared better than others. While it might be solely the result of the subject line, it’s a great place to start.


Michael Schaubroeck, Manager of House of Guitars, thinks it’s important to stay dynamic and not keep going back to the same well: "We've had a lot of positive feedback about our emails. We try to keep things interesting and change the subject up a lot to make sure people are definitely looking at what we're sending."


What are some examples of subject lines?


Focus on the email’s value, not spam - “Essential Oils… Learn what they do!” courtesy of Mother Earth Pillows.


Ask open-ended questions - “Who was Wonder Woman’s Role Model?” courtesy of Strong Women, Strong Girls.


Include a deadline - “Cruisin’ 4 Critters is August 2nd Register Today1” courtesy of Manchester Animal Shelter.


Put the announcement front-and-center - “The winners of the postcard contest are…” courtesy of Fluent City.


Frankly, the possibilities are endless!


We want to hear from you! Every business is unique and your subject line can be, too! Share in the comments what subject lines and/or preheaders you’ve used in the past to great success and I’m sure it’ll inspire others!

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‎03-14-2024 04:06 PM
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