When it comes to writing subject lines, many of us don’t know where to start or what will catch your customer’s attention. And then you add in the term “mobile-friendly” and forget it. Sometimes it just seems easier to string together random words, send, and hope someone opens your email. But don’t do this! That little subject line packs a lot more of a punch than you might think. Before you click “send,” make sure your subject line is up to snuff—because as good as your email is, it may never get opened without a great subject line.
Think of a subject line as your first impression. And we all know how important it is to make a great first impression. Your subject line is no different. But even further, your subject line is your elevator pitch. These short little buggers need to pack a powerful punch because they can often be the difference between an opened email and a trashed one.
So now that we know why subject lines are so important, let’s talk mobile for a minute. In June 2013, 44 percent of all email was opened on a mobile device, according to Litmus. What this means for you is that your subject lines have to be just as mobile-friendly as your emails.
Here are six helpful tips for writing mobile-friendly subject lines that will get your emails opened:
1. Follow the 2-2-2 principle
The 2-2-2 principle is something you should keep top-of-mind when crafting mobile-friendly subject lines. The first 2 stands for the two seconds you typically have to compel your customer to pay attention. The second 2 represents the first two words of your subject line that determine whether or not your customer will read the rest of the subject line. The third 2 stands for the “to” in today. Why does your email matter today?
2. Say no to spam words
Spam filters apply points to “spam words” (examples include “Free Offer” or “Call now”). If points exceed a certain amount, your email will go to the junk folder. But, using one or two of these “spammy” words does not mean that your email is automatically headed to the landfill. You can use the word “FREE” with an exclamation mark in your subject line, as long as the email itself is not chuck full of spam words.
3. Keep it short and sweet
This mantra is important for all types of writing but, when it comes to writing for mobile, it’s even more important. And as you saw above, you have even less real estate on a mobile device versus a desktop. At about 30 characters or so, your message starts to run off. Your customers also consume information differently on their mobile device because they’re usually in a hurry or on-the-go. For these two reasons, it’s incredibly important to keep your subject lines short for a successful mobile experience.
Keeping your subject lines under 30 characters is usually a safe bet for mobile.
4. Create urgency—but not all the time.
When you’re running a special promotion, don’t be afraid to use subject lines like, “Two days left to get your FREE pair of skates.” Creating urgency that inspires immediate action works well with customers checking email from their phones. But the key is to not overuse this type of subject line—your audience will become desensitized to this type of message. A special promotion should be just that, a unique and exciting offer, not used all the time.
5. Stay specific and relevant
If you were in an elevator with a potential employer and you only had a few seconds to sell yourself, I’m guessing you wouldn’t start with some long-winded monologue about where you grew up and how much you loved little league. Get to the point! The only way you’ll inspire your customers to open your email is if they know exactly what’s inside and are intrigued.
6. Ask questions
Asking a relevant question is a great way to create engagement. It sparks the curiosity factor. Often times, questions lead to a click-through because your customers want to know the answer to the question you posed.
And there you have it. With these six simple tips, you’ll be writing mobile-friendly, actionable subject lines in no time.
Related: 4 Common Misconceptions About Mobile Marketing
Editor's note: Not using email marketing yet? Or not happy with your provider? BusinessknowHow.com uses and recommends Constant Contact. (We are also a Plantinum Solution Provider and receive commissions for sales from Constant Contact. If you need help with your email marketing, let us know.)
Ellen Williams, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, New York and Southern Connecticut
Ellen has over 20 years of technology and marketing experience and has presented to over 4,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Her advice on best practices help organizations understand how to build great customer relationships that inevitable grow their businesses.