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In the overcrowded email marketing space, where the average person receives 120 emails a day, standing out in the inbox is a difficult task. Your email's success depends on the first thing your recipient sees: the subject line.
It's your one shot to capture their attention, arouse their curiosity, and entice them to open that email. But what if we told you there's a psychological playbook for crafting subject lines that compel recipients to click?
In this article, we're diving deep into the world of psychological principles that transform ordinary email subject lines into irresistibly compelling ones. We'll explore strategies that resonate with the B2B SaaS audience, driving higher open rates and engagement.
From leveraging social proof to harnessing the power of scarcity, we'll guide you through the art and science of crafting email subject lines that stand out in crowded inboxes and make your recipients eager to explore what's inside.
So, let's get started!
Did you know that almost 47% of email recipients decide whether to open an email solely based on its subject line? On the flip side, 69% of recipients label emails as spam just because of their subject lines. That's the power of your email subject lines in email marketing, especially in cold emailing.
In other words, your subject lines are directly responsible for the success of your email campaigns.
Crafting compelling email subject lines boost open rates, which paves the way for improved click-through rates and eventually, conversions.
However, the significance of email subject lines goes beyond just statistics. Here's why they matter:
Your subject line is the first thing your recipients see when your email lands in their inbox. It's the make-or-break moment where you either grab their attention or get lost in the sea of unopened emails.
A well-crafted subject line acts as a sneak peek into your email's content. It offers recipients a glimpse of what awaits them inside, helping manage their expectations. Since email recipients receive so many emails in a day, a powerful subject line can make your message stand out from the crowd.
Certain words and phrases can trigger spam filters of ESPs (Email Service Provider), potentially flagging your email to the spam folder. Creating subject lines that avoid these problems is critical for ensuring that your emails are sent.
Although tracking email open rates is hugely debatable, open rates help you measure click-to-open rates and shows the potential of success for your campaign. A captivating subject line significantly enhances the likelihood of your email being opened, setting the stage for a successful campaign.
Your subject lines do more than just enticing recipients to open your email. They can also encourage recipients to engage with your email's content, whether it's reading further, clicking on links, or taking desired actions.
Social proof is a psychological principle that contributes to compelling subject lines. As social beings, humans are heavily influenced by others' experiences.
Social proof is a fundamental concept in psychology and marketing where people look to the actions and behaviors of others to guide their own decisions, especially in uncertain or ambiguous situations.
This word was coined in the 1980s by American psychologist Robert Cialdini, who wrote the book Influence. This book examined six main methods for persuading humans, and one of those methods was the concept of social evidence/social proof.
Social proof can be a game-changer when it comes to email subject lines. By incorporating social proof elements, you're essentially saying, "Hey, look at all these people who found our email valuable. You should check it out too!" This taps into the recipients' curiosity and the desire to be part of something larger. Here's why social proof is vital:
Here are ten examples of email subject lines that incorporate social proof to entice recipients to open your cold emails:
These email subject lines use various forms of social proof, such as user numbers, testimonials, case studies, and expert endorsements. They create a sense of curiosity and credibility, making recipients more likely to open the email to see what all the fuss is about.
In the overcrowded inbox, most emails get unnoticed because of boring/repetitive email subject lines. Crafting subject lines that stand out is an art. And the psychological principle of Endowment Effect and Loss Aversion, helps create eye-catching subject lines to drive more email opens.
The Endowment Effect is a cognitive bias that describes how people tend to overvalue the items they own or believe they possess. Essentially, it's the idea that we ascribe more worth to something simply because we have it. This principle suggests that people are more likely to act to keep what they already have rather than acquire something new, even if the new item has the same or greater value.
Loss Aversion is another psychological phenomenon that suggests people feel the pain of losing something more intensely than the joy of gaining something of equal value. In other words, the fear of loss is a stronger motivator than the potential for gain. This bias is deeply ingrained in human behavior, and it drives us to avoid losses at all costs.
Understanding the Endowment Effect and Loss Aversion is crucial for crafting email subject lines that resonate with your B2B SaaS audience. Here's why:
Here are 10 cold email subject lines based on the Endowment effect and Loss Aversion:
These subject lines create a sense of ownership and urgency, encouraging recipients to open the email to either safeguard their perceived benefits or avoid missing out on valuable opportunities.
One powerful psychological principle that can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your subject lines is the "marketing scarcity principle."
The marketing scarcity principle is a psychological concept that plays on the innate fear of missing out (FOMO - Fear of Missing Out) that exists within all of us. It suggests that people tend to desire things more when they perceive them as rare, limited in quantity, or available for only a short time.
In the marketing sphere, especially in B2B SaaS, where competition is fierce and attention spans are short, the scarcity principle can be a potent tool for achieving the goal:
Here are a few examples of email subject lines based on the marketing scarcity principle:
These subject lines leverage the Marketing Scarcity Principle by creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity, encouraging recipients to open the email to learn more about limited-time offers and opportunities.
Infusing the age-old art of storytelling in the subject lines can be a great hook. It's a psychological principle that has been captivating audiences for centuries and can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your subject lines.
Storytelling is the art of conveying a message, idea, or information through the use of a narrative or a compelling story. It's not just about sharing facts or data; it's about crafting a relatable and emotionally resonant tale that engages the audience on a deeper level.
By creating emotional connections, enhancing memorability, differentiating your emails, and engaging recipients with intriguing questions, characters, challenges, and descriptive language, you can make your subject lines more compelling and increase the likelihood of recipients opening and engaging with your cold emails.
Here are 10 examples of email subject lines that use storytelling as a tool to engage email recipients:
Another effective psychological aspect to consider when crafting compelling subject lines is the "autonomy bias."
Autonomy bias is a cognitive bias that reflects our innate desire for autonomy and control over our decisions and actions. It suggests that people are more likely to engage with content or take action when they feel that they have a sense of choice and control over the situation. In other words, individuals are naturally inclined to be drawn to options that empower them to make decisions on their terms.
When it comes to writing subject lines for cold email services, autonomy bias becomes a critical factor. Here's why it's essential:
Craft question-based subject lines, offer customization, extend invitations, provide content teasers, and seek feedback to tactically use the autonomy bias in your email marketing strategy.
Here are 10 examples of cold email subject lines leveraging the autonomy bias:
One potent psychological principle that can elevate your subject lines to new heights is the "Information Gap Theory."
The Information Gap Theory, formulated by George Loewenstein, suggests that curiosity arises when individuals perceive a gap between what they know and what they want to know. It's that feeling you get when you're presented with an intriguing question or statement and feel compelled to find out the answer. In essence, it's the psychological drive to close the gap between your current knowledge and a desired piece of information.
The Information Gap Theory holds tremendous importance because it taps into a fundamental human drive: curiosity. Here's why it matters:
Leveraging curiosity not only leads to higher open rates but also encourages deeper engagement with your cold email content.
Here are 10 examples of cold email subject lines based on the ‘Information Gap Theory’:
These subject lines provoke curiosity by hinting at valuable information or solutions that recipients don't yet have. This curiosity drives them to open the emails in search of answers, making these subject lines effective for engaging your audience.
One intriguing and effective aspect of writing subject lines is the use of "Temporal Landmarks" and "Temporal Discounting."
Temporal Landmarks are specific dates, events, or periods in time that people mentally mark as significant. These can include holidays, birthdays, the start of a new year, anniversaries, or any other date with personal or cultural importance. Temporal Discounting, on the other hand, is a psychological concept where people tend to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. It's the idea that individuals often prioritize instant gratification over delayed benefits.
Understanding and harnessing these principles are crucial for crafting subject lines that grab the attention of your audience:
Here are 10 cold email subject line based on this psychological aspect:
These subject lines tap into the urgency created by temporal landmarks and temporal discounting, encouraging recipients to open the email to learn more about time-sensitive offers and opportunities.
Follow these email subject line best practices to craft compelling and effective subject lines to grab your recipients’ attention. Increase email open rates, boost reply rates, and drive engagement.
While crafting an engaging subject line, make sure you:
Email marketing’s success essentially revolves around successfully conveying your message. A key part of this is how you present your message to your audience. The email subject line is like a short and catchy summary of your email. Its job is to grab people's attention and make them want to open your email.
Now that you know how important it is to make your subject lines appealing, it's time to take action. Choose one of the subject line examples I shared, make it your own, and consider using popular keywords to improve your email open rates. Start making these changes today to get better results from your email marketing efforts.
Including something in the subject line of an email is crucial because it immediately grabs the recipient's attention, sets expectations, and conveys the email's relevance, increasing the likelihood of it being opened and read.
An effective and appropriate subject line in an email message adds value by increasing the likelihood of the email being opened, read, and acted upon. It grabs the recipient's attention, sets expectations, and communicates the email's relevance, ultimately improving engagement and the chances of achieving your email's goals.
Subject lines that create a sense of urgency or curiosity tend to receive the highest open rates.
To ensure your subject lines are effective, follow these steps:
The best way to improve your email efficiency and scale your business is by using a sales engagement platform to send your cold emails. Smartlead warms up your email inbox and makes sure your email lands on the recipient's inbox. You can manage all your email accounts and conversations from the master inbox. This way, you can maintain high efficiency for your emails.
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Absolutely, one of our most popular guides can be found right here. It's been used by a large percentage of users to go from zero to cold emailing experts. Covering all topics from email infrastructure to copywriting and lead sourcing.
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