Marketing

How to Write Engaging Subject Lines For eCommerce Email Marketing

Post by
Mehdi Boufous
How to Write Engaging Subject Lines For eCommerce Email Marketing


Headlines make people click on the Internet. Subject lines help you sell with email marketing.

The subject lines for your email are the primary trigger for your email subscribers to open emails in the first place.

No email opens. No reading emails. No clicks. No sales.

So, you should make a good first impression with your subject lines. While it's true that email marketing gives you a nice $42 per every dollar spent, it's not automatic.

Not every email warrants that kind of an impressive return. Striking off items off of your email marketing best practices checklist (while tweaking and improving), being regular and consistent with your emails, and of course, focusing on your email marketing subject lines.

Subject lines are so important that they can make or break your email marketing campaigns. According to OptinMonster, 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. More than 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line.

Here are some tips on how to write effective and engaging email subject lines for email marketing:

Email Marketing Basics: Start with what works

You don't have to spend years trying to master the art of writing subject lines. To start with, use what just works. These email marketing hacks have been working wonders for years now (and centuries before that, just without "email marketing".

A few types of subject lines (with examples) are as follows:

FOMO (Fear of missing out): Last 24 hours Left ⚡️ Get 25% Off Now

Induce curiosity: Here's a Surprise for You 🎁

Address pain points: Business Expenses Hurt. Cut them out Now

Use the name: Mary, we missed you 😪

Go boring: Weekly Newsletter | Week 3, Feb 6, 2021

[Note: Wondering if "boring" subject lines even work? They have an open rate of a whopping 60-87%. You can't beat that now, can you?]

There are several marketing and copywriting principles you can put to use to craft engaging, powerful, short, and effective subject lines. Don't send out an email campaign for your eCommerce business without reading through a list of best subject lines for eCommerce.

Use Emojis & Add Some Personality 

Emojis are fun. They bring some life into otherwise plain Jane text. You get to express more with emojis.

Emojis work great with Facebook Ads for a good reason. But why stick with just ads and social media content?

Use Emojis in your subject lines. Around 56% of brands using emojis in email subject lines saw higher unique open rates.

Make Emails Personal: Personalize your email marketing

Effective personalization is not just about using "names" or fancy {{first_name}} dynamic entries in your email.

Effective personalization starts with building segmented audiences (also called as email marketing segmentation).

Knowing who you are sending emails to (and the big "why") is the foundation of email marketing personalization.

Sort and segment your customers and email subscribers in a way that makes sense for your business. Then, craft email marketing messages that communicate directly to your audiences.

  • Retargeting email messages is not the same as general emails to your entire list.
  • Transactional email marketing messages are different from powerful, copy-driven emails created to make sales happen.

Subject Lines + Preview Text

Preview text is what shows up around your subject line to "hint" at what the email is about (most Inbox clients on desktop and mobile) show this to your customers.

Don't ignore preheader text. Your subject line along with the preview text (or preheader text) as it's also called work as a team.

If your subject line goes something like "New Drones. New Flight Plan", go with a preview text which says something "See what's new, get 10% off now".

Use a simple tool like Zurb's TestSubject to see how it all looks across devices.

Simple, yet effective.

Experiment with subject (but don't get too clever)

Copywriting is never about fancy words, playing too smart, or trying to be so clever that no one even understands. This is what makes copywriting so hard: it has to be simple (enough that an 8-year-old can understand) but effective enough to push through people's inboxes, right into their psyche.

Don't get too clever with things like word play, using 4-5 syllable words, or getting too smart with your subject lines.

Remember that your subject lines probably have 50 characters or less before they are cut off.

Experimental subject line examples:

140,000+ Customers said this 🔥

Christmas Came Early 🎅

The Joke is On You 🙃

However, this shouldn't stop you from experimenting, split testing various headlines, and tweaking subject lines all the time to see what works and what doesn't.

Retargeting & Cart Abandonment Subject Lines

Your retargeting and cart abandonment emails for eCommerce should never be the same as the general email campaign messages. They should address the fact that those email recipients have left the store without a purchase.

The goal is simple: Get them to buy now.

Using some of the principles above (such as fomo, direct offers, curiosity, emotion, or a combination thereof), you can tweak your cart abandonment subject lines and retargeting emails play on a level of their own.

Some best cart abandonment and retargeting subject lines can be:

"Hurry, only 12 slots left..."

"Get this, before they are gone"

"Buy now, & Get a special 10% off"

"You left this. Get it back"

Get creative. Experiment. Test. Win.

Make your Customers The Hero

Too many eCommerce brands try to sell all the time. You can take a break and let your customers take the centre stage once in a while. 

Your customers love it and you can't deny the power of vanity, self-interest, and the fact that we humans just love ourselves way too much.

Instead of "pushing" for sales all the time, take the angle of trying to "involve" your customers (and even potential customers) with eCommerce email marketing  messages trying to do what most brands don't: making individuals in your email marketing list or your customers the hero.

Vanity-based Subject lines:

"We want to tell your story"

"Want to be featured?"

"Can we take a picture together?"

"Hey! A Selfie? You and Me?"

Use Lists and How-to Subject Lines

People on the web? They just love lists -- they are clear, easy, and people can skim or skip. How-tos are just as good since they promise an informational journey from point A to point B and then solve a particular problem for them.

Use lists and how-to subject lines especially when you are sharing regular content sourced from your blog posts or other content assets.

A few examples of lists and how-to subject lines:

How to Crush Fashion Quotient This Summer

10 Winter Styling Tips, Just For You

8 Ways To Smarter Homes This Season

There are a lot of different approaches to crafting good subject lines for email marketing. The key is really understanding your audience and creating content that will resonate with them, so they'll want to open up the message in their inbox.

As always, there are no magic bullets. You can't just take a subject line and expect it to bring you straight to the bank.

You have to be thoughtful. You need to think about a subject line that speaks to the reader's interests, not just what you're selling or why they should give you money.

The good news is that there are plenty of examples to inspire, great resources to learn from, technology available to allow you to test and see what works, and direct data (from your own efforts) to see what works.

If you are in the eCommerce game, email marketing is your "go-to" strategy. Use subject lines to their full potential and you have a way to boost your bottom line without really spending more or draining more resources.

At La Hutte, we are Shopify experts and we  specialize in helping eCommerce brands on Shopify platform to drum up potential to sell more, to get more revenue, and to ensure a profitable presence for your Shopify stores.

If you are looking for help, check out our eCommerce services. As your new growth partners, we play matchmakers between you and your goals for eCommerce business.