Top 10 Best Subject Line Tips to Get Your Emails Opened

delete delete deleteAre community members reading your emails? Email marketing is a powerful (and easy, automatic, far-reaching, inexpensive, the list goes on…) tool to drum up enrollments for your recreation department, YMCA, school or nonprofit, and cut down on your administrative time. But if no one is reading what you send, what’s the point?

It all starts with the subject line.
Sometimes it take a little experimentation to determine what catches people’s attention and makes them want to open your messages. We know you may not have time for experiments, so we hit the interwebs for you and compiled our findings in one easy list (hint: Readers like lists.).

Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Email Subject Lines:

1. Consider the context of your email.

Are you trying to catch a new customer’s attention? Consider bringing humor or an inspirational notion such as: Move it to Lose it in 2016! Zumba enrollment starts January 3.

If, however, you’re communicating notifications to established participants, short and to the point is appreciated: Additional yoga sessions added to spring schedule.

2. Use numbers or lists.

Take a tip from Buzzfeed. People like lists. Our brains are naturally drawn to numbers and small chunks of information. Using numbers or lists in a subject line hints that the email will be easily digested. Try something like, say, Top 10 ways to improve your email subject lines (tee hee)

3. Take personalization to the next level.

We’re not talking about inserting a community member’s name into the subject line, here. People have wised up to the fact that anyone can auto-populate a first name into an email. Personalize in a way that shows you value and pay attention to customers’ prior involvement with your organization.

  • Can you beat your time in this year’s Jingle Bell Run?
  • Ready to take Your tennis to the next evel? Level II Tennis enrollment starts today.

4. Ask a question.

This brings us to the age-old truth that asking a question often leads to a response (Click!). Check out the difference:

  • Declarative sentence: Gently used sports equipment for sale
  • Question: Do you want first dibs on our gently used sports equipment?

Of course I want first dibs on your stuff!

5. Incorporate value and urgency.

Most people are deadline-driven and by our nature, we don’t want to miss out! Incentives mixed with limited time offers is a winning formula: Save 15% on Registration (3 days only!)

6. Keep it around 40-50 characters.

Subject lines with fewer than 50 characters have higher open and click-through rates. If that’s impossible, lead with your subject. Or you can take advantage of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to build up to your subject in a tantalizing way so that if it drops off the inbox preview, it creates suspense. For example, How to make sure absolutely everyone in your family avoids…(is it the flu? missing this opportunitythis mistake?)

7. Along the same lines, consider using unfinished sentences.

Everybody loves a good mystery. For example: You won’t believe what we’ve added to this season’s program guide…

8. Be Clear

While you may be clever, you must always be clear. Don’t make false promises in your subject line or stretch the truth. Subscribers may click through, but if they feel misled in any way, you’re headed for the unsubscribe list.

9. Limit (or never) use capitalization.

Title case is unneeded and all caps is…well…Stop yelling at me.


10. Improve preview text.

Our last suggestion doesn’t have to do with subject lines at all. In today’s age of smartphones and digital media, most email recipients are notified in a preview flash that a new email has been received. They’re not just looking at the subject line, they’re also reading the first few lines of email text. Make them count.

Try ’em out.
In your next mass email, incorporate some of these suggestions and see for yourself how click-throughs can increase. Remember, if you’re spending time crafting messages, you want to do everything you can to ensure the message is received.