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3 Emails Worth Opening: A Personal Case Study on Subject Lines

I’m not one of those people who has thousands of notifications for unread emails on their phone. Even if I’m not going to actually read my emails, I make sure to mark them as read or delete them to avoid obnoxious red notifications at the corner of the email icon.

These are some examples of the types of emails I receive: an order update or confirmation from Amazon, an invite request from LinkedIn and a notification for a Venmo payment. These are called transactional emails – an email sent as a result of an action that a user has taken (i.e. making an online purchase).

But for this personal case study, I want to focus on emails that market to a larger list of people who probably opted-in by sharing their email address: product marketing emails and e-newsletters. If you’re like me, you receive a ton of these emails. So, what’s the first thing I’m looking at before I start deleting these emails? The subject lines. Ding! Ding! Ding!

The subject line of an email is the first thing that grabs readers’ attention. It’s one of the deciding factors in determining whether or not an email gets is opened, so it's of monumental importance when building an email marketing campaign. I’m going to analyze three different subject lines from my own inbox that successfully drove the intended action. 

Email #1: 🍕Free Delivery: All Day, Every Day (Postmates)

I will probably open any email if there's a pizza emoji in the subject line. I think including emojis adds a little spunk to an email. I don't normally see a ton of them in my inbox, so when I come across a subject line that has one, it stands out from the others. According to an Experian report, 56% of surveyed brands reported increased open rates for emojis in subject lines. However, they should be used sparingly and in the right context. In this case, I think the pizza emoji goes hand in hand with a food delivery service.

Another element I’d like to call out is the offer. Free delivery? These food delivery apps are my kryptonite. People love the words “free” and “discounted.” Calling attention to specific deals right off the bat can convince a user to open up that email and place an order.

Source: getemoji.com

Email #2: Starting soon: Chicago Restaurant Week (OpenTable)

Relevance and localize. These are key factors for a successful email marketing strategy. I live in Chicago and I love checking out new restaurants. Now that I have opened this email, I realized Chicago Restaurant Week is indeed starting soon. Adding a user’s city to the subject line makes the email feel much more relevant to them.

Email #3: Daily Skimm: You are tearing me apart, Lisa (Skimm)

Thanks to one of my co-workers, this e-newsletter has been part of morning routine on my way to work. This subject line went the extra mile for me. The first thing I thought of was that this is a line from The Room, which is a pretty funny and awesome movie. I immediately chuckled to myself. According to best practices, humor is welcomed, but it should not be overdone. A subtle joke like this one can be appreciated.

Also, it so happens that my name is Lisa! This is obviously a coincidence. However, personalization in emails is proven to increase open rates for most users and works well when combined with targeted automations.

Due to the amount of spam people receive every day, a lot of emails get ignored or deleted. It’s important to know your audience and send emails with subject lines that are relevant to them. Although they may not work in every situation, these tips and best practices can help your chances.

The great part about hiring an agency to help with your email marketing efforts is the experience they have dealing with different issues. If you have questions or are looking for an agency with experience to do the heavy lifting, we would love to hear from you