Email subject lines are like the teaser copy on a direct mail outer envelope. Their job is to get the email/envelope opened and read. This means subject lines are big influencers of the success (or failure) of every email you send.
Subject lines tend to trend. Why? Readers become accustomed to seeing similar teaser tactics filling their inboxes. As a result, approaches that are new — and appropriate — stand out. That's why it's smart to try different approaches and do A/B split-testing. Stay on top of what's working (and what's not) for your specific audience.
Here are some 2016 subject line trends from email wizards at the likes of Campaign Monitor and HubSpot who regularly see millions of emails. But remember, trend or no trend, test to see what's working for your specific audience.
Add a timely touch with a seasonal subject line or one tied to a holiday.
- Red, White & WOW.
- Swim into Summer with Our Lowest Rates!
- [Name], What to Know Before You Travel This 4th of July
Grab attention by mentioning an authority figure or other well-known person.
- Apple recommends you do this before midnight
- What you can learn from [__________] about [__________]
- Tiger Woods can afford any car; he drives a Buick
Engaged readers start thinking, "Hmmm, how does this apply to me?"
- Are you making these SEO mistakes?
- Which product is made in the USA?
- Does your printer use too much ink?
Entice your reader to want to know more.
- How to add an hour to your day, guaranteed
- How to avoid paying too much for [__________]
- Learn how to [__________] in seven minutes or less
Fear of loss almost always stops readers in their tracks.
- This sale is HOT. Book by Thursday.
- Last Chance to Send Your $10
- Hurry! Your discount expires in 6 hours
Customers like to know what's new, different or improved.
- New! $5 doorbusters
- Just Out! Federal home loan program announced
- We took your advice and made our [__________] even better
Some marketers have seen open rates increase by as much as 20 percent to 30 percent when numbers are included. (Tip: Use numerals, not words.)
- 10 win-win strategies for quitting your job
- The 112 Best Email Subject Lines (so far) in 2016
Pique reader interest by tapping natural curiosity.
- Is your vehicle on this list?
- 3,537 [_________] can't be wrong
- You are not alone
Go beyond personalizing a subject line with just a first name.
- Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring
- Where to drink the best beer in [__________]
- [__________] make better [__________]
"Sell the sizzle (benefit), not the feature (steak)" applies across channels - including email subject lines.
- Top 10 workouts for lazy people
- This easy-peasy recipe will make you famous
- Improve your SAT scores in just 2 weeks (Think: Get into my 1st choice college)
The more targeted your audience, the easier it is to write a subject line that makes an immediate connection.
- HP Instant Ink users love this
- To the road warrior who hates to travel.
- Important news for [__________] owners
Tell your reader what to do.
- Take a closer look at your cat's litter box
- Stop using so much printer ink.
- Subscribe to [__________], save [$0.00] instantly
If you're game for testing this, just make sure your email delivers content worthy of the subject line.
- Do not open this email
- Are you part of 75.9% who will miss the secret savings inside?
- No need to open this if you're 100% happy with your [_________]
Kickstart your subject line with a powerful verb.
- Explore the sizzling city of Rio
- Slash the cost of your next vacation
- Download the Perfect Blog Post Template
If you can't use true personalization (name, order number, product purchased, location), use you or your to make it sound like you are directly addressing your reader.
- Let us know what you think.
- You just made the [__________] A-list
- Your weekly progress report from [__________]
Sensible people love lists.
- 5 reasons why you should [_________]
- 3 reasons why [__________] made this switch
- Why acronyms make terrible names
Bloggers still write about the 2012 political fundraising subject line "Hey." Here's another from the same source: "dinner?" The real power of both these words came from the FROM line: Barack Obama. Here are a few other one word subject lines I've seen in my own inbox (and not from Barack Obama.)
No Subject Line
Yep, you read that right. Why agonize over writing a subject line when you can leave it blank? After analyzing more than 6 million emails, HubSpot's Sidekick found messages with the subject line left blank were opened 8 percent more often than those with subject lines. (Tip: Do a A/B pre-test before rolling out. Also keep in mind if everyone does this, the impact will be minimized dramatically.)
One more thing. No matter what's trending, authenticity is key. Don't promise something your email doesn't deliver. While subject lines may be initially measured by open rates, it’s back-end conversions that ultimately matter. Disappointment does not breed conversion.
P.S. Look for ways to achieve the perfect pairing between your FROM and SUBJECT lines. Readers typically use both FROM and SUBJECT lines to screen inbox contents.