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How To Write Subject Lines that Convert [Data]

How To Write Subject Lines that Convert [Data]

Creating great emails takes time. But, a lot of great emails go unread.

According to Vivipins, 35% of email users will decide to open an email based on the subject line alone.

In addition, Copyblogger states, 8 out of 10 people will read your subject line, but only 2 out the 10 will actually click on it.

That means that much of the time and resources you spent on crafting subject lines is being wasted.

Want to get more people to engage with your email campaigns? Then check out these subject line writing tips to increase the conversion rates of your headlines. 


What is Subject Line Optimization?

Subject Line Optimization is the process of improving the engagement rates of your subject lines by following best practices, testing and experimentation.

Start by comprehending best practices for writing subject lines in your niche.

Shorter subject lines that clearly communicate what your content is about tend to be more effective than longer subject lines.

Subject lines should also include a clear benefit for the recipient.

Website and email marketing tools usually have the ability to split test different headlines so that you can see which headline performs best.

Remember to experiment with headlines regularly to gain a better understanding of what resonates with your audience. Continuous testing will allow you to discover what types of headlines work best for your particular audience.

We’ve conducted some research of our own here at Atomic Reach and discovered some interesting data that you might want to incorporate while writing subject lines.


Subject lines with 1-5 words will generate a 15.9% increase in open rates

Some email marketers might think that longer subject lines with more detail would increase click through rates.

After all, long form sales letter copywriters usually use long headlines to grab attention and increase sales.

However, for email, our data shows that shorter subject lines are more effective

In fact, really short subject lines with anywhere from 1-5 words will generate an increase of 15.9% in open rates on average.

One possible reason that really short subject lines work better is the sharp increase of people engaging with emails on their mobile devices.


Mobile phones have smaller screens, and therefore users can view really short headlines with ease.

Short subject lines can also create an air of mystery as to the content of the email, while at the same time revealing just enough information to capture the reader’s curiosity.

Here are a few examples of really short, yet effective headlines:

  • Don’t Miss This Deal!
  • A Huge Thank You!
  • It’s Finally Here!

Subject lines with a personalization token will generate a 23.6% increase in open rates

Looking for another way to boost your email open rates?

Try using personalization tokens in your subject lines.

Our research shows that subject lines that include a personalization token get 23.6% higher open rates on average versus non-personalized subject lines.


A personalization token can allow you to add data to a bulk email message so that the email seems more personalized.

The most common way to personalize an email is to use the prospect’s name in the email. People are more likely to read messages when they feel like the message is specifically for them.

Using a person’s name in an email subject line is a great way to get a person’s attention and peak their interest.


Subject lines with no pronouns will generate a 52% increase in open rates

If you really want to boost your email open rates, try removing pronouns from your subject line.

We found that subject lines with no pronouns generate a 52% increase in open rates on average.

Print publications rarely use pronouns (including words like I, me, you, we, etc) in their headlines.

For example, here’s a screenshot of the front page of USA Today. Notice how most of the headlines don’t use pronouns:


So why don’t journalists use pronouns in their headlines?

Removing pronouns from headlines often produces shorter and clearer headlines. And shorter headlines tend to get more clicks.

If you’re testing subject lines for an email campaign, try rewriting your subject line so that it doesn’t contain any pronouns. You may see a significant boost in your open rates from this one simple tweak.


Contrary to popular belief, subject lines with a number only generate a 3% increase in open rates

One popular subject line hack is to use a number in your headline. Numbers make a message seem more specific and give readers a better idea of exactly what’s included in an email message.

For example, the subject line “5 Tips for Saving Money While on Vacation” is clearer and more specific than “How to Save Money While on Vacation”.

An old study by Conductor showed that people preferred headlines with numbers over any other type of headline.


But how well do headlines with numbers actually perform?

Our research indicates that contrary to what most people believe, subject lines with numbers only result in a 3% increase in open rates on average.

So while using a number in your subject line might help, don’t obsess over it and feel free to test out headlines without numbers in them. You may find that numbers won’t make much of a difference if you already have a strong subject line.


How Can AI Impact Subject Lines?

As technologies continues to develop, some marketers expect that AI will be able to write better subject lines and possibly even better content than human writers.

In fact, the technology is already being used by companies like Atomic ReachPhrasee and Persado to generate more effective email subject lines. These AI tools use Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) to understand and create copy that sounds like it was written by a human.

The tools also continue to improve their own performance through machine learning.

Rather than waiting on a copywriter to come up with headline ideas, AI can generate multiple subject lines in just a few minutes and also test these headlines quickly to find a winner.

Virgin Holidays experienced a 2% increase in conversion rates when using Phrasee’s AI writing technology to generate high performing email subject lines. This increase in email open rates resulted in millions of dollars of additional revenue.

Most businesses are still using copywriters to come up with subject lines. But as AI becomes more popular and continues to improve, we may see machines replacing humans (or at least helping them) to come up with better headlines that generate higher conversion rates.


To Sum it Up

To summarize, keep your email subject lines short and make the benefits as clear as possible. Use personalization tokens to create a more personalized experience and increase open rates.

Try creating subject lines without pronouns as they tend to convert better. Finally, don’t feel pressured to include a number in your subject lines as they only result in a small increase in open rates on average.

Consider using AI to generate subject lines for your business as AI tools can create subject lines faster and test them quicker than human writers. AI is just starting to grow in popularity, but in the future, AI tools may become commonplace when it comes to optimizing email subject lines for maximum conversion.

This post was created using Atomic Reach.

Published on November 2, 2018

Topics Email Marketing Email Marketing Metrics