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I get this question all the time: “Does the subject line of my email affect the open rate?”

Ding. Ding. Ding. Of course it does! If you write a great subject line, they’re going to open your freakin’ emails. It’s that simple. Now, here’s the skinny on how to make that happen.

The Subject Line is Like a Door

The subject line of an email is similar to the door of your business. A good email subject line get brides to open your email, thus opening the door to doing business. A subject line that falls on the not-so-good side keeps the shut (slammed shut).

When it comes to email marketing, you have two opponents: the spam filter and the bride. The good news is that when you know how to write effective email subject lines, you can win over the spam filter and the bride reading the email.

The Rule of KISS Comes into Play Here

The first rule of thumb is to write email subject lines that are short, intriguing and straight to the point (KISS—keep it simple stupid). In fact, you only have 50 characters (or less) to compel the email recipient to open your email.

Keep in mind that it is 50 characters, so it does include letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation. It’s akin to cramming all the 4-1-1 into a tweet! You gotta get it in there, but you better make it good.

The majority of email providers only permit 50 characters for subject lines, so anything after the fiftieth character goes unseen. The lesson is to make the most of the 50 characters you have, ensuring it packs a powerful enough punch to get them to open your email to see what the body of the message contains.

Choose Words Wisely

Some words trigger the spam filter, which sends your email straight to the junk folder, where it tends to remain unseen (unless someone trolls their junk folder now and again). Learn what the top words that trigger the spam filter are and STOP using them in your subject lines. Some of the top words are:

  • Save
  • Free
  • Weight loss (if you’re trageting brides trying to fit into their dresses by go time)

Bust out your thesaurus to find replacement words with a similar meaning, if you have to, but avoid using these words at all costs (the cost to you is an unopened email and business lost=loss of money for you).

Learn from What Works

Go through your own email inbox. Peruse the emails you have saved in your various email folders. Review your trash folder.

Identify emails you opened and ones you deleted without opening. Review the word choices, length of subject line, or other characteristics that made you take the action you did.

Use your own behaviors as guidelines for writing email subject lines that make brides want to open them rather than delete them.

State the Benefits

One of the best ways to write a subject line that increases open rates is to show the reader how it benefits them to open it. It all goes back to the “what’s in it for me” rule? They want to know upfront what they get out of opening and reading your email.

On the flipside, scaring the Bejeezus out of them works too. You can turn it around and use negative and scary subject lines that can be just as effective, if not more effective, than positive and cheery subject lines.

Test, Test and Test Again

Don’t be a dumb-dumb. If something works, do it again and again! In order to figure this out, you have to run some tests.

  1. Split the email list in half.
  2. Create one subject line for the first half of the list.
  3. Write a different subject line for the second half of the list.
  4. The body of the email is the same for both groups.
  5. Monitor the open rates of the two different groups to see if one subject line receives a higher open rate than the other subject line.
  6. If you do have a higher open rate with one group, try to mimic the characteristics of that subject line when writing subject lines for future campaigns. Rinse and repeat, dangit!

When you write effective subjects lines, you can increase the open rates of your email marketing campaigns. Usually, I’m not a stickler for “writing rules,” but…in this case I make some exceptions. When you can overcome the challenges of writing great subject lines, you can increase open rates and boost your booked weddings.

BTW: I wrote the original post (this is a revised and updated version) eons ago. I was inspired by an email I received today from one of my subscriptions that talked about how oddball subject lines have higher open rates than your run-of-the-mill subject lines.

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