35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.

Craft a winning email subject line: 3 essential questions

Get your subject line wrong and your email won’t get opened. That means no clicks, no reads, and certainly no conversions.

So how do you craft a compelling subject line? You need to deliver an irresistible message in the most concise way. To do that, you need to take a step back to understand the purpose of the email and the needs of the audience.

That means you need to ask good questions before writing a single word. In this article, we’ll consider the three essential questions you should ask to create the perfect hook for your email subject line.

Question 1: Who are you sending the email to?

You cannot write a good email subject line without knowing who it needs to resonate with. For that, you need to get to grips with the data.

Send to a specific segment where possible.

This will enable you to craft a tighter subject line focused on the precise needs of that audience. In fact, segmenting your list has been proven to increase open rates by 14.6% when compared to a non-segmented list (Mailchimp).

There are many options for segmentation. You could send to a specific demographic group (e.g. if you have a promotion on a young women’s clothing line, you may only want to send it to women in their 20s).

Alternatively, you could send it based on their past behavior (e.g. if they downloaded a whitepaper, you may have a product promotion).

Decide the data before crafting your subject line. Then ensure the content, style and tone are geared towards creating a connection with your ideal audience.

Question 2: What does your target audience care about?

Your email subject line should motivate your target audience to open the email by conveying a message they care about.

To uncover this, you need to find the intersection between the value you are delivering in the email and the needs of your target audience. You then need to incorporate this into the subject line of your email.

To help you identify this core value, consider these questions before you start work on your next promotional email campaign:

  • What is the purpose of your email? e.g. boost sales for a new product
  • How is this relevant to your target audience, and why should they care? e.g. the product will help them save time on an everyday task
  • How does the email help them meet their needs? e.g. the email offers a promotion on a valuable product which would solve the problem immediately

Essentially, you should be very clear about the value you are delivering in this email and why they should pay attention.

Does your email help your audience address a difficult problem they face in their daily life? Maybe you are offering free content on how to manage this issue, or are promoting a new product that delivers an immediate solution. Use this core value as a hook in your subject line.

Question 3: How will you appeal to the emotions of your target audience?

Fear of missing out? Excited to join? Inspired to move forward?

Identify one core emotion you want to arouse in the copy and convey this in the subject line. The core emotion you choose should align with your objectives for the campaign.

Say you have a limited time offer that you want people to take action on. You could draw upon the emotion of fear, and warn them that they are in danger of missing out if they don’t take action.

For example, consider the subject line of an email I received from Leadpages: Ends Tonight: Last chance to get Leadpages for $100 off.

Alternatively, you may want to motivate the reader that they can overcome a tough challenge. You can draw upon the emotion of hope that they can achieve their goal.

For example, consider this subject line to join an online course: Nothing Can Hold You Back… If…

Crafting a compelling subject line requires concise messaging. But most importantly, it requires in depth understanding and careful consideration of your audience and your business.

It comes down to understanding your audience needs, the value you deliver and finding the intersection between these two points.

Maximizing your email open rates is more than crafting a compelling subject line. You also need to consider the ‘from line’, pre-header and sending time.

What do you think? How do you craft your emails? I would love to read your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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