5 Tips to Make Your Email Subject Line Stand Out

Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. You can talk more intimately with your subscribers than on social media allows and it builds trust. However, your audience needs to open your emails first. That’s what we’re going to dig into today—how to get your audience to open your emails so that you can build a deeper connection with them. And guess what? It all begins with the first impression your email gives—the subject line.

Your subject line draws your audience in and determines whether or not they even want to click on your email. In only a few short words you’re telling them what your email is about. In a world where everyone’s inbox is cluttered, your subject line needs to immediately capture their attention.

Before I get into the five tips to make your email subject line stand out, you can download a list of subject line starters specifically nonprofits and associations at fiveones.com/subjectline.

Use words that convert

We know the goal of your subject line is to get the receiver to open it. So, elicit emotions with your words—they hold a lot of power. You can make someone excited, curious, or feel good about themselves all through your words. 

Do this by utilizing words that convert so that they need to know what is inside your email. An example of this is “An exclusive look at our recent donor event.” By phrasing it like this, you are making someone feel special and included, while also showing them what it’s like to be a donor. Remember: emotions drive action.

Personalize it

When capturing emails, be sure to ask for more information than just their email. Start with first and last name, location, and job. Then, personalize your emails by using names in the subject lines. You don’t want to start throwing out their names left and right when it’s not needed, but when done sparingly it can feel personal and direct. If you don’t have their names, using “you” or “yours” adds an element of personalization, too. 

Let them know what’s inside

Here’s the thing: everyone is busy. I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy! In order to entice someone to open an email,  get straight to the point. Identify the purpose of your email: why is your email being sent and how can that inform your subject line? Let this be the foundation as you describe what is inside.

Don’t be dramatic 

We’ve all received those emails where the subject line is written in all caps with no shortage of exclamation points. That isn’t going to get someone to open your email. In fact, they will probably think it’s spam. There’s no need to write in all caps or use a lot of punctuation. Reduce the aggression and instead, articulate the importance of your email with action-oriented verbs and a specific call-to-action. 

Use all available space

This one is technically about preview text (the snippet after your subject line), but it’s all related and equally as important. You are given very valuable, yet very limited real estate when you send emails out. Use it all wisely. Don’t simply repeat your subject line in your preview text. This section gives your reader even more of a peek into your email, so be intentional and write something that will draw them in. If you don’t add copy, it will automatically pull in text from email, which can look messy. 

Ultimately, if your emails aren’t being opened, then they aren’t serving their purpose. By using some of these tips, I hope you will come up with new and creative ways to make your subject lines stand out. Get an email with a subject line that made you click recently? Leave it as inspiration in the comments below!

Thanks for joining me for today’s High-Five Nonprofit Marketing Ideas! If you have any email questions, you can always email me at julia@fiveones.com. Just make sure you’re subject line is catchy.