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Subject lines to win you more customers in 2021

19 March 2021
by Force24

Did you know that a user’s decision to open an email is based 50% on the brand and 50% on the subject line?

Designed to build suspense, engaging subject lines will instantly hook in a recipient – and hopefully keep them wanting more. Get it wrong and it’s a direct route to the delete folder for your marketing messages.

With so many differing views on what entices a reader to interact with your comms, what is best practice for us in particular? Let’s start with the three most important things we live by when it comes to crafting email opening subject lines:

  1. Focus on the audience and link to their persona

  2. Make it short and sweet – 50 characters tops. Additionally, we tend to capitalise each word to make it stand out and more accessible for individuals

  3. Personalise and segment – matching the message with an individual and/or company name or the segment

Quick tip…

Strangely enough not all subject lines have to make sense. We’re not saying be factually incorrect, instead we’re underlining that you don’t necessarily have to use complete sentences. For example, look at this particular sub-header again…

Abbreviations such as ‘FYI’ (for your information), ‘LMK’ (let me know) and ‘BTW’ (by the way), could all work for your audience if they love an informal, social media-first tone that’s in-keeping with your brand voice.

FYI, it’s best to stay professional but be yourself. Ooh, and LMK what you think of this blog so far, BTW! (Too much?!)

To emoji or not to emoji?

Be careful here please! Yes, they draw attention, however, it could not only devalue your content but also prove inaccessible to people who use screen readers. Make your content inclusive and don’t cheapen your email before it’s even been opened.

The rule of six

You’ll know we enjoy things that centre around this particular number. Why? Well, not only is it the amount of ‘Friends’ characters we all know and love – it’s also the amount of touchpoints it typically takes before a recipient engages with your brand messaging.

To put this into context, here’s a formula you could follow for your recruitment-based subject lines below. This was devised alongside our friend and recruitment specialist, James Del-Gatto (RDLC Pirates). The full version is also available for free download, here: ‘The Ultimate Recruitment Guide’

1. Straight to the point

Condense your message and deliver it in just a few words. It’s a powerful strategy when you have strong content that’ll resonate with your audience.

Example: ‘Junior Developer: Near Leeds’

2. The verb formula

It simply states how you should prefix your subject line – with a verb that describes what the user can expect to do when they open your email.

Example: ‘Read Our Free Guide On Recruiting In A Pandemic’

3. The proof

This allows marketers to introduce a statistic or metric that makes your recipient stand up and take notice.

Example: ‘50% ROI Increase In 3 Days’

4. The killer question

Designed to drive debate. Invoke a reaction by asking a question people know the answer to or will have an opinion on. It’s a tricky move as you don’t want to alienate or polarise your audience.

Example: ‘Is Office Working Dead?’

5. Urgency

These subject lines are created to push people to your services, availability, clients or candidates. Urgency is often the most powerful subject line formula of all.

Example: ‘3 Recruits You Can’t Afford To Miss’

6. Surprise

Now it’s time to deliver some information that could shock the recipient. However, like all marketing, you must use this responsibly.

Example: ‘Urgent: Skilled Developer Needs A New Home’

Don’t forget about hyper-individualisation!

There’s nothing worse than sending batch and blast emails containing content that’s loosely received by all – and swiftly scrolled past.

So, if you can hyper-individualise your subject lines, your recipient will feel as if they’re being directly spoken to and their of-the-moment interests are understood. Make sure you have the data to support this strategy. If you do, we’d suggest something along the lines of:

  1. [first name], [company name] was mentioned to me today

  2. [company name] has been the topic of a number of chats

  3. [first name], some strong advice for [company name]

It’s best not to copy and paste our examples because they should be tailored to the needs of your brand and customers. Instead, understand the formula breakdown, its components and how you can apply your magic touch to them!

Want to find out how to supercharge your email marketing and transform your ROI? Download our free Email Marketing Playbook today! And don’t forget to follow the latest updates on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


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