Before you click “send,” make sure your subject line is up to snuff because as good as your email is, it may never get opened without a great subject line. Successful subject lines can significantly increase your open rate.
When it comes to writing subject lines, many of us don’t know where to start or what works best. And then you add in the term “mobile-friendly” and forget it. By that point it’s easier to just string together random words, send, and hope someone opens your email.
But let’s back track for a second. What exactly is a subject line? The subject line is that short little sentence, right beneath the sender’s name, that you see when you receive an email.
Why are these itty bitty lines so darn important?
Think of a subject line as your first impression. And we all know how important it is to make a great first impression. Your subject line is no different. But even further, your subject line is your elevator pitch. These short little buggers need to pack a powerful punch because they can often be the difference between an opened email and a trashed one.
So now that we know why subject lines are so important, let’s talk mobile for a minute. In March 2013, 43 percent of all email was opened on a mobile device, according to Litmus. What this means for you is that your subject lines have to be just as mobile-friendly as your emails.
Here are 6 helpful tips for writing mobile-friendly subject lines that will get your emails opened:
Tip #1: Use the 2-2-2 principle
The 2-2-2 principle is something you should keep top of mind when crafting mobile-friendly subject lines. The first 2 stands for the two seconds you typically have to compel your customer to pay attention. The second 2 represents the first two words of your subject line that determine whether or not your customer will read the rest of the subject line. The third 2 stands for the “to” in today. Why does your email matter today?
Tip #2: Don’t sound spammy
Spam filters apply points to “spam words” (“Free Offer” and “Call now.”) If points exceed a certain amount, your email will go to the junk folder. But, using one or two of these “spammy” words does not mean that your email is automatically headed to the landfill. You can use the word “FREE” with an exclamation mark in your subject line, as long as the email itself is not chuck full of spam words.
Tip #3: Keep ’em short and sweet
This mantra is important for all types of writing but, when it comes to writing for mobile, it’s even more important. And as you saw above, you have even less real estate on a mobile device versus a desktop. At about 30 characters or so, your message starts to run off. Your customers also consume information differently on their mobile device because they’re usually in a hurry or on-the-go. For these two reasons, it’s incredibly important to keep your subject lines short for a successful mobile experience.
Keeping your subject lines under 30 characters is usually a safe bet for mobile.
Tip #4: Create urgency, just not all the time
When you’re running a special promotion, don’t be afraid to use subject lines like, “Two days left to get your FREE pair of skates.” Creating urgency that inspires immediate action works well with customers checking email from their phones. Just don’t make every subject line for every email sound like the one above. It gets tiring.
You also don’t have to say things like, “Act fast, buy now” to create urgency. It can be done in a much more tasteful way, like in the example above.
Tip #5: Be specific and relevant
If you were in an elevator with a potential employer and you only had a few seconds to sell yourself, I’m guessing you wouldn’t start with some long-winded monologue about where you grew up and how much you loved little league. Get to the point. The only way you’ll inspire your customers to open your email is if they know exactly what’s inside and are intrigued.
Tip #6: Questions are good
Asking a relevant question is a great way to create engagement. It sparks the curiosity factor. Often times, questions lead to a click through because your customers want to know the answer to the question you posed.
And there you have it folks. With these 6 simple tips, you’ll be writing mobile-friendly, actionable subject lines in no time.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2012 and has been updated for relevancy and accuracy.