29th March 2018 Claire Hawes

How to write subject lines that attract attention in cluttered inboxes

Take inspiration from decluttering experts. Learn how to write subject lines that make it clear your email is essential reading

Do you know what job I’m most looking forward to over the Spring holidays? It’s decluttering my daughter’s bedroom.

My goodness, she’s an expert at accumulating stuff. From books to arts and craft creations, through to toys and even outgrown clothes.

“But why can’t I keep all this stuff?” My daughter plaintively asks.

“Because clutter stops you from finding things,” I answer. “As a result, it causes stress and makes you feel out of control.”

It’s a bit like sorting through your email inbox. Did you know the average office worker receives 121 emails a day?

You know what it’s like to face a mountain of emails. But if you’re a marketer, you’ll also recognise that with an ROI of approximately £30 for every £1 spent, email is an effective marketing tool.

So if email forms part of your marketing strategy, how can you ensure your content survives your recipient’s instinct to declutter?

First off you need to write subject lines that entice recipients to open them.

Why do I say this?

Because 33% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.

Allow me to explain how you can write subject lines that cut through the clutter.

It’s pretty obvious once you think about it:

1. Make sure your email is relevant to your reader

My decluttering strategy starts with a black bin liner. Anything without apparent value I quickly bin.

People do the same with their email inboxes. The days of mass emailing are over. Email marketing campaigns must start with useful and relevant content.

2. Keep your subject lines short

We open 53% of emails on mobile devices first. With this in mind, email writers must remember the average mobile screen only fits four to seven words. So when writing subject lines, keep them to a maximum of 50 characters.

3. Be clear and concise

By the same token, make it easy for readers to understand and grasp your message quickly. Use clear and concise language.

4. Pique the interest of your reader

Declutter expert Marie Kondo tells us unless items spark joy in our heart then we should get rid of them.

So take Marie’s lead and use subject lines to pique your recipients’ interest. For example:

  • Instil a sense of urgency
  • Ask questions
  • Provoke curiosity

5. Personalise your subject lines

Address your audience, who they are and where they are, and you’ll have 26% more chance of getting your emails opened. Better still, speak directly to your readers by using the words ‘you’ and ‘your’.

In short, my Spring declutter forces my daughter to decide what is actually important to her.

Likewise, subject lines tell email recipients what they should read. So to stand out in cluttered mailboxes, make them:

  • Relevant
  • Short
  • Clear & concise
  • Interesting
  • Personal

Let me know how you get on.

And finally

I’m always interested in hearing about email marketing strategies. So do let me know if you’d like help writing email subject lines.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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