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5 Ways to Improve Your Association’s Email Subject Lines

Marketing Audra Hopkins

According to statistics taken in January 2017, around 269 billion emails are sent every day. But, how do we determine which emails to open and which to discard? Often times, it all comes down to the email subject line.

The subject line can make or break the open rate of your association’s emails. So, how can your association ensure your subject lines attract members to open your emails? We’ve compiled a few subject line tips to enhance your email marketing efforts.


What’s the purpose of your association’s email subject lines?

Think of the subject line of your email as the selling point of your association’s brand. Without an enticing offer, members are less likely to open or click through emails. Having a weak subject line leads to less opened emails, a decrease in traffic on your website, and possibly lower renewal rates.

A study done on the Hubspot blog shows that 33% of email recipients open emails based on subject lines alone. You need to keep your members clicking on your emails. Your emails contain important offers and links for members that give them access to exclusive content, ebooks, guides, and many more incentives.

Let’s move on to some tips to writing captivating and success driven subject lines.


The message matters more

In most cases, less means more when it comes to email marketing. However, subject lines are the exception to the rule.

While many reports will tell you to keep a subject line short and sweet, studies prove otherwise. In a benchmark report done by GetResponse, results show the number of characters in a subject line do not significantly impact open rates.

Ignore length of subject lines in order to get the point across to readers. In fact, the highest open rate result came from subject lines within a 210-219 character length.

According to research done by Return Path, the optimal character count for an email subject line is 65 characters. While a 65 character count is ideal, your association’s email subject lines will vary in length depending on the email content.

Your readers will stay hooked on a long subject line if it’s compelling enough. Just make sure to let readers know what they can look forward to reading in the email.

Now that we know the proper length for subject lines, how do we make them stand out?


Personalize your subject line

Personalizing your association’s email subject lines is an easy way to make your emails stand out among the rest in a recipient’s email inbox. According to the Hubspot blog, emails with personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened. Even better, personalized tokens are simple to implement.

A personalized token is something simple that your association knows about your member. It could be their name, location, or even their birthday. Anything personal that connects your member to your association is a great addition to a subject line.

Here’s a great example of a personalized subject line: “(your member’s name), we think you’d really love this…”. You’re inviting your members by name to check out content inside the email.

This method of subject line writing strengthens the trust your members have in your association. By speaking to them in a personal and conversational tone, you’re providing them email content that they can relate to.


Change up your punctuation

There’s been many studies on how to end a subject line. Should you ask a question to your readers? Should you convey excitement in your subject line? Or should you keep it simple with a full stop? Quite simply, they’re all the right answer.

According to Touchstone subscribers, adding punctuation to an email title does have positive effects on open and click through rates. When used in a subject line, the full stop provides a heightened open and click through rate of 10-20% for Touchstone subscribers.

Take your readers by surprise and switch up the punctuation in a subject line. A switch in punctuation keeps things interesting and different. Punctuation also adds variety to subject lines.

Readers will stay on their toes with a smart change of pace in punctuation. For example, if you typically tend to end subject lines with full stops, try using a question as a subject line. Using question marks intrigues members and pushes them to find out more.


Put the offer in the subject line

Your association’s content is helpful and members should know about it. But how do you make sure your content offers are being viewed by all members?

Why do members open emails with content offers like ebooks and free guides inside? Well, think of it this way– an offer is free information for members. When members see the word offer, they can expect exciting content that is tailored to their interests. Most members will not miss the chance for a free offer.

Make sure your subject line reflects the promise of an offer. This way, members have a harder time passing over exclusive offers meant for them. Your members chose your association for a reason, so don’t let them miss out on exclusive content!

Try using loyalty incentive offers in subject lines for top-performing members. Loyalty incentive offers can lead to higher click to open rates than regular offers, according to research done by Yes Lifestyle Marketing. Reward your members with email offers for being loyal to your association.


Use time sensitive offers

Punctuation isn’t the only way to freshen up your subject line pattern. You can use time-sensitive emails to create a sense of urgency with email recipients.

What is a time-sensitive offer? Something your members can only receive for a certain amount of time. If your content or web offer is only available for a limited time, this would classify as a time-sensitive offer.

Time sensitive subject lines create urgency, which is a psychological principle proven to increase open rates. And it’s not the only one– other psychological principles that affect increases in conversion rates are scarcity and social proof.

Warby Parker has a great example of a time sensitive subject line. When emailing its audience, Warby Parker used the subject line, “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring.” This subject line alerts customers that an offer is about to expire, which creates a sense of urgency to renew their offer.

Lead your association’s emails with tag lines like “today only” or “a limited time offer for you!” This gives readers a time constraint to view your email. The urgency created by a time sensitive subject line can produce a 22% increase in open rates.

Your members will love receiving emails with creative subject lines from your association. With these tips and more, you can ensure your members will keep opening your association’s emails and clicking through to your email content.


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