8 Tips for Writing Subject Lines That Get Your Newsletters Opened

newsletter typewriter
Aside from SEO, our number one traffic driver is the IFB Weekly Newsletter (it'll be coming out tomorrow). Over the years, it's been such a consistent traffic driver, and eventually income driver, that even though the newsletter costs money to maintain, it's worth the investment.

We aren't the only ones who have seen great results from newsletters, ecommerce sites get twice as effective results from newsletters than from social media, even ProBlogger reported that a single newsletter for his site Digital Photography School generated over 10 times the traffic as his social media efforts.

That's pretty old school, no? All these new social networks and strategies, and newsletters are still killing it?

So how do you create effective newsletters? The tactic we are going to focus on today is getting those newsletters opened.

The subject line.

Whether you have 10 subscribers or 10,000, the subject line is the gateway to your content. Like the post title, the subject line only has a fraction of a second to capture your reader's attention, and it can make the difference between a successful newsletter and one that gets sent to the trash.

Short and sweeet

Email subject lines get cut off after a certain amount of characters depending on what email service your recipients are using.  To make sure they get the most important information, make sure your subject lines are no longer than 60 characters. You can make them longer, but put the least important stuff at the end.

Identify yourself

Make sure your newsletter recipients know where your email is coming from. Sometimes your name will work if your readers know you by name, other times, it's good to stick to your blog's name. “IFB” gets more opens than “Jennine Jacob.” Maybe I need to do less “behind the scenes” type work. Heh.

Earn Trust: make sure your content is relevant

The quickest way to undermine your open rate is to pull crazy tricks to get opens without delivering in your content. Make sure your subject line always reflects the content of your newsletter, and they both reflect the type of content on your blog.

Ask a question

Asking a question is a wonderful way to pique someone's curiosity. Your questions can hint that the solutions are in your email, for example:

Is your blog traffic growing fast enough?

Then the content of your newsletter should have either a link leading to where they can find out how to grow blog traffic quickly, or offer those tips directly in the email.

Use Power Words

We've talked about power words before, words like “easy” and “free” are compelling words. For example:

DIY Summer Trends You Can Do For Free!

If you publish a lot of DIY's this can get your reader's attention.

Offer Exclusive Content

One way to get readers to look forward to your emails (and even drive subscriptions) is to offer content and services not available on your site. We used to run our “Blogger Spotlight” feature in our emails which drove a lot of opens, people looked forward to seeing who would be featured in each newsletter. You could offer deals, downloads, special content you don't offer anywhere else… the sky is the limit!

Numbered Lists

I have to tell you the numbered list post thing is like crack. Take the title of this post for example.  Time and time again, we get not only better results, but MUCH better results from numbered lists. It's hard to do anything else, but hey, it works.

Test with A/B split testing

You can't know what works without testing. One way you can test, is to see how many people open your newsletter, but the most useful tool I have used is A/B split testing. Mailchimp has this with their newsletter service. It sends out two different subject lines to a small portion of your subscription list, then which ever subject line gets the most opens gets sent to the rest of the list. It's great for honing in on what exactly will resonate with your subscribers.

So now you have a few tips to get started, all that's left is getting subscribers for your newsletter!


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5 Responses

  1. Erin

    Such awesome timing! Just did a blog revamp challenge for my readers, and creating a newsletter was one of the topics. I covered the basics, and this post good a little deeper into the process. I’ve used Feedburner and Feedblitz, but found that MailChimp is the winner for me.

    Thanks for posting, I’ll be sure to share and try some of this out!

  2. Daria Burkova

    Thank you! These all are really helpful points.

    But… would you write a post about ‘how to make a newsletter on different platforms” ))


  3. Kyle

    Some wise tips there. It’s amazing that no matter how good your content is, it all rests on the subject line to get that email opened up in the first place.