3 email subject line phrases that work, and 3 that don’t

Piranha Designs - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Attempting to get responses to your marketing emails can feel like a very hit-and-miss effort at times – and yet, it’s not doomed to failure. Just take a look at these email subject line phrases that have been shown by research to work or not work. 

Three that do work... 

  • “Next steps”: these two words set up an expectation – specifically, that there are next steps to your relationship with this recipient. When one person sets up an expectation, it drives other people to act in a manner in line with that expectation.  
  • “Thank you”: sending a “thank you” email is far from the superfluous activity that many people imagine it to be. Such an email acknowledges to the recipient that their time is worth something, and when you show your gratitude for that, they tend to respond positively. 
  • “Today’s call”: the more immediacy the language of your email subject line communicates, the more opens you can expect to attract. If you give the recipient an easy excuse to shelve any reading of your email until later in the week, there’s a good chance they will never read it. 

...and three that don’t

  • “Can we chat?”: people lead busy lives, so as with a cold call, so often, the answer is “no”. “Check in” has been shown to achieve much greater open and reply rates. 
  • “Something of interest?”: this kind of language screams “sales email” and therefore isn’t something that attracts reads – people just don’t think you’ve made an effort. There should at least be some attempt to tailor the subject line to the value your email provides, as you can do by indicating what the recipient could achieve by reading it or taking advantage of the advertised product or service. 
  • “Invitation to join”: you might think that your use of “invitation” makes you seem welcoming, someone with something to offer. But an automated invite from a stranger is hardly the same as a party invitation from a friend, and that’s reflected in the open and response rates. Maybe something like “Meeting...” or “Introducing...” would be much more effective. 

Even the most seemingly minor changes can make a big difference to the impact made by your email subject lines. Here at Piranha Designs, we offer an assortment of design and marketing services to help your brand achieve a big impact across the breadth of its online activities.

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