Writing subject lines that get your e-mail opened

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There's no doubt that e-mail is one of the most effective marketing tools available to any business. But did you know that your entire campaign will ultimately hinge on just four or five words?

It doesn't matter how incredible your offer is. Your promotion will bomb if people delete your e-mail message without ever reading it.

And there's a good chance they will - unless you immediately answer the two questions at the top of every recipient's mind: "So what?" and "What's in it for me?"

Good subject lines will answer these questions by…

• Making an announcement or sharing news,

• Making the reader curious,

• Creating a sense of urgency, or

• Emphasizing how the reader will benefit from opening your e-mail.

These approaches work because they don't try to sell anything; they just create enough interest to get your e-mail opened in the first place.

But how your subject line looks matters, too.

For instance, a subject line that reads like personal e-mail from a friend or colleague is much more likely to be opened.

So format your subject lines like a sentence, not a headline. Compare "Want to see a movie?" with "Want To See A Movie?" or even worse, "WANT TO SEE A MOVIE?"

Which one would you open?

It's also crucial to write subject lines that your recipients can scan easily. To do this, here's a cool formatting tip you can use:

Make sure to include a balance of ascenders (letters like t, l, k, h, etc., that are higher than letters like o, m, s, etc.) and descenders (letters like g, p and y, that stick out below the other letters) in every subject line.

Your subject lines will pop out to your readers and they'll be more likely to open your e-mails.

Take a look at these ones for instance:

OKAY: Bob, seminar schedule here

GOOD: Bob, your schedule for today

As you can see, the "GOOD" subject line has a balance of ascenders and descenders, which makes it easier for your eyes to read.

Finally, make your subject lines short - 50 characters or under - so your carefully constructed subject lines aren't cut off mid-word when they're displayed.

To make sure your e-mails get opened, think like an e-mail recipient: busy, impatient, and dealing with an avalanche of e-mail every day. Don't waste their time. Write short, punchy subject lines that let them know immediately why this e-mail is worth opening.

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