Image by Fimb (credit)

How to get your Email Subject right

If a recipient feels that there is some value for him to be unlocked inside the ‘Subject’ & ‘Sender Name’ pair of an email — then he will open that email.

This is Part 2 of the series of posts I am writing about Doing Email Campaigns at scale . Part 1 was about getting high in-boxing for your emails so that they end up landing in recipient Primary Inbox rather than Promotions or Updates tab.

Image by @markheyb (credit)

Before we dive deeper into the meat of the post, I want you to think for a moment, out of the hundreds of email you get every day what are the emails you open?

Also, just go to your inbox right now and skim through all your unread emails.

Are there any emails in particular that you felt like opening as soon as you gazed through your inbox? Was the urge so strong that you actually opened a few of them with out thinking twice?

Now, think more deeply — What made you open those emails ?

Somehow the subject and name pair of that email convinced you that there is something in it for you. That there is something valuable for you inside the email that you would not want to miss out.

Image by liz wes (credit)

An email’s ‘subject’ and ‘sender name’ pair are like a gift wrap of a gift box which is email. In a situation where you were to open just one out hundreds of gift boxes (emails) infront of you, how would you choose that one box? It will be based on a perceived value of the gift based on its look from outside. Same is true with the subject and name of an email.

Human beings are fundamentally attracted to things that add value and it largely comes in three forms

Material value — Email from a potential lead, business partner or potential vendor.

Emotional value — Note from a long lost friend, a Facebook notification email about a new comment on your photo.

Value in the form of knowledge — Your weekly Quora digest, the daily newsletter from your favourite blog or a notification for an answer to a question you asked on Stack Overflow.

If a recipient feels there is some value for him to be unlocked inside the Name, Subject pair of an email — then he will open that email.

If you can internalise the above line and apply it effectively then you don’t even to have read the remainder of the post.

SendX is built with the above philosophy in mind. We take great care to build features and UXs inline to this philosophy.

Following are some of the tips and tricks to make the above possible.

A word of caution before we start: this is not an exhaustive list. Feel free to add in things you have in your mind the comments. Also, following tips applies to both campaign emails as well as one-to-one emails.

1). Make the subject personalised with recipient’s first name

This step alone can jump your email open rates by 25% and we at SendX have enough data to back this up. Email subjects starting with users firstname win hands down.

My hypothesis on why this happens is because we implicitly are trained to recognize our name. So, out of the stack of unread emails, you end up noticing this one immediately. More over, in the context of an email this makes it personal and sense of connection gets established immediately. You don’t expect a guy who is spamming you to address you with your 1st name!

Here is an example:

Hey Mike, wanted to get in touch ?

But, how can you do this at scale ? What if your campaign list has 1000’s of email ids…

SendX to your rescue!

Snapshot of SendX Campaign page. We make sure you don’t forget personalising subject :)

Firstly, email subject personalisation is baked right into the product experience. In the snapshot above, the placeholder text of the subject field nudges you to use the FirstName in the subject so that you don’t miss it!

Secondly, if you use FirstName tag in the subject then while sending email we take care of replacing the tag with the right word for you! So, {{.FirstName}} gets replaced by the recipient’s real first name.

2). Make subject tailored with recipient’s meta data

Image by Gabrielle (credit)

Weaving in very specific details about the recipient makes for a killer subject line.

Things like — name of his company or something related to his behaviour on your site or a very specific information about his profile. Such details in the subject could just get that open click from him in a blink.

Here are some examples:

Hey Steve, how is your work at Apple ?

Above subject line could make for a great outbound recruitment email subject. More than anything else the subject reflects that the sender cared to do a bit of research before reaching out. You would always open such an email because subconsciously you know care always precedes value.

Hey Mike, your trial is about to end in 3 days…

Above subject line is again an example of a very specific user data weaved in an email subject.

Mike, how was your last email campaign with SendX ?

Again, this contains very specific information related to users recent activity on SendX platform.

Can SendX do this at scale as well?

Yes! In SendX you can have any type of custom field associated with a contact. A custom field can also be used as tag-name. So, all you need to do is use a correct custom field in the subject line like we did for FirstName in the previous point.

How to make subject tailored with specific user data in SendX

3). Don’t tell everything about the email in the subject

The subject should be partially revealing so that the recipient is nudged into opening the email to know everything.

For example, if you are doing outbound sales prospecting then your subject could be something like -

“Hey Mike, wanted to get in touch?”

This above email subject will nudge Mike into opening the email. He would feel that there could be something into for him (potential business probably?) and at that moment he decides it worth investing 8–10 seconds to check it out. If you have a great email content then this would be a true win and win. Let’s get into the content part of it in Part 3.

4). Use sentence casing in your subject line

Sentence case is the style of writing were all words except the 1st letter of the 1st word in a sentence starts with a small case. Ex — This line is written in sentence casing. Sentence casing works better in email subjects since it looks less formal and with sense of continuation towards the email body…. People also prefer it because it makes for faster reading.

Email with sentence cased subject

Another form of writing is Title Casing where every word in a sentence starts with a capital letter Ex — This Line Is Written In Title Casing. Title casing is more often than not a give away that this email is sent by a machine for a machine!

Email with Title Cased subject.

Think about it — Have you ever received an email from a friend with Title Casing ?

Goes without saying — Never ever use all capital cases in your email. It is equivalent to shouting for attention!

5). Frame the email subject as a question

Asking a question is the purest form of human engagement. Almost any conversation starts with one side asking a question and then the other side replying back to it. Framing a subject like a question might not always be possible. In cases where it is not possible do NOT to force fit and just skip this tip for later use.

Quora’s email digest always have a question which you might be interested as a subject.

Quora uses this strategy to a great effect which also explains why their email marketing seems to be working so well. I always have an urge to open their emails after reading a relevant question based on my interest and get value in terms of knowledge.

6). Get your ‘from name’ correct*

There are several ways to get the “from name” that will appear in your email right.

Use your full name. This should be used when the recipient either relates to your name or using a real name makes the most sense.

Use your first name followed by brand name. This should be used when you think that the recipient might be familiar with your brand and might remember your name as well.

Mayank from SendX

Use the brand name. This should be used when the recipient is more likely to identify and connect with the brand than with your name.

In SendX the from name is a free text field. So, you can use what fits your requirements without any restrictions.

*This tip is not valid for regular one-to-one emails since you won’t be changing your name in your email client once it is set.

7). Use emojis

Emoji makes the email subject stand out due to its uniqueness. Also, you can convey subtle emotions with an emoji which are not possible with text.

Thanks for 💌

The above subject could be used instead of a regular “Thanks for subscribing”

Product Hunt uses emojis to a great effect in all their emails.

Examples of how ProductHunt uses Emojis

If a recipient feels there is some value for him to unlock inside the Name, Subject pair of an email then — he will open that email.

As I said before just internalise this one line and then write your email subjects and all the tips will just fall in place.


That’s it for Part 2 folks. If you liked the post consider sharing it :). Click to Tweet

Also, we are currently running a 50% promotional off at SendX. You would be eligible to avail this discount for the next 1 year. Keeping up with the spirit of the post, all you need to do is send an email to hello@sendx.io with the subject “Hey mayank, add me in to the 50% SendX promo :)”.
P.S. — This subject encapsulates a bunch tips from above, so I wouldn’t miss your email :)

I would soon be writing Part 3 of the series which is about the content of your email. Having the right email content will finally make the user engage with your email. If not done right, all efforts of Step 1 and 2 go in vain. So, stay tuned!




About SendX:

SendX is a 360° Email Marketing Automation that can help you:

  • Convert Visitors to Customers
  • Engage with Customers
  • Outbound Prospecting

Write to us at hello@sendx.io