Newsletter headlines: Subject lines vs. preheader text
EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!
A stock phrase that was keyed in the 1800s used to denote breaking news. When you saw this in the newspaper headlines and two things ran through your head: 1) Something just went down and 2) Where can I get my hands on today’s paper?
Why? Because the headline grabbed your attention. It made readers want to keep reading.
Newsletter headlines work the same way. Except they’re broken into two types of headlines: subject lines and your pre-header text. Subject lines are what will get your reader to open your email, while your preheader text will an extra punch to their inbox.
I want to show you how to write newsletter headlines that will boost your open and click through rate.
Newsletter headline: Subject lines
Arguably, the most important newsletter headline is your subject line. How important do you ask? Research from Convince and Convert showed that 35% of recipients open email based on subject line alone whereas 69% report email as spam based solely on the subject line.
What do those numbers tell you? They tell you that don’t want to screw this up.
For you subject line, you have to grab your audience’s attention. You want to introduce some serious FOMO. What are they missing out on if they don’t open and read this email? That’s the question you want them asking themselves.
There’s no sure-fire method to writing subject lines, but try these 5 pointers.
Use their first name
By using the first name of your recipient, you can significantly increase your open rate.
Marketing Sherpa conducted a study testing the effect that personalized subjects line had on open rate by industry. It showed that with consumer products and services, personalized subject lines produced a 41% increase in open rates.
Something to keep in mind is that this might become stale if you use it too often. Make sure not to overdo it with the personalization. Too much of a good thing is very real.
Segment your lists
Sending the same message with the same subject line might hit home for some of your subscribers, but it might also confuse and annoy others. It might make them ask questions like, why is there an email in my inbox about cats when I own a dog?
By segmenting your list based on the information you know about your subscribers, you’ll be able to get personal with each and every one of your subscribers.
Be creative with your headlines
Again, the point of your subject line is to grab your reader’s attention, giving them a reason to open and read your email. Personally, the emails that I get that are creative and thought-provoking are the ones that I open most frequently. A couple ideas you can try:
- Ask a question: Give them a reason to open your email. That reason being the answer to your question.
- Cut your sentence….short: Again, a simple way but creative way to your reader to open.
- Get punny: Who doesn’t love a good pun?
- Use incentives: Include a discount or giveaway
Count your characters
According to research from Informz, shorter subject lines with 10 characters or less had a 10% better open rate than any other subject line length.
This might have something to do with mobile, as 54% of emails are opened on mobile according to Litmus. Many email providers limit lines to a certain number of characters.
This doesn’t mean that you should always be limiting your subject lines to 10 characters. When in doubt, test.
DON’T USE ALL CAPS or special characters
Using all caps may get your subscriber’s attention, but in the wrong way. Think about it. When you get a text or email in all caps, it feels like you’re being scolded or yelled at. Is that the message you want to send? I don’t think so.
It’s also a sure-fire way to land your email in the spam folder – where emails go to die.
Newsletter Headline: Preheader text
“Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view it in a web browser.”
Probably the most common preheader text out there. Yes, helpful if they’re not able to view your email, but honestly, how many times have you had to view an email in a web browser? And if the email doesn’t open, what are the odds that you’re going to view it in a separate browser anyhow?
Your preheader text should be the peanut butter to your subject line’s jelly – used in unison with your subject line to entice your reader to open the email.
Here are 5 things you can try in your preheader text.
Play off your subject line
Your preheader can be used to expand on your subject line. It gives you a chance to go more in depth on your subject line without compromising its length. If you’re running a promotion, then your preheader can give a little more information about the promotion.
Entice your reader with an offer
People are always looking for deals. Give them one. You can offer free shipping, a discount, or even some free content.
Put a deadline on that offer
Add a sense of urgency by making your offer “limited time only.” Instead of waiting to think about it, this will give your tempted buyers the push they need.
Tease your content
If you have some great content that you know your readers are going to like, use your preheader text to give them a taste of what’s inside.
Yeah, I said it. Emojis. Add a little bit of creative fun to your email that will help grab the reader’s attention. Now I wouldn’t recommend using these in every send but it’s worth testing.
Remember, what works for some companies might not work for others. These pointers are a great place to start, but it’s all about figuring out what works best for your specific audience.
You might actually find out that longer subject lines work best or that using emojis isn’t resonating with your audience.
That’s alright. Test and figure out what’s right for your business.