As a webmaster, you’ve undoubtedly hear the cry of the importance of growing your email marketing list. And not only is list building important, but cultivating a relationship with that list so that the continue to open, read and be responsive to your messages. If your email headlines are broken, your email is worthless. In a land of information overload, this is too risky to mess with.

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The subject line is not just the first thing that your subscribers see, it’s what many people will make their decision to read, ignore or trash your email on. Too much hinges on your subject line not to pay attention to what is working.

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With this in mind, here are some best practices for writing killer headlines that make sure your emails get read.

1: Personalization

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Everyone responds better to their name than, Dear Friend. Okay, so you probably don’t use that exact line, but you get the point. Personalization definitely works, so use it.

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2: Raise The Curiosity Meter

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Be the National Enquirer… get them so interested as to what’s in the email that they actually open it. Use incomplete thoughts or give away a damning admission or mistake you made. People love that kind of drama.

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3: Stay In The Moment

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Get your subscribers while they’re hot, meaning use follow up emails when someone first subscribes or buys from you. Don’t let the list go cold by not incorporating an autoresponse sequence.

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4: Warm Them Up

If you have let the list go cold, warm it back up by putting on an “event.” Tell them about something that coming, build some excitement to it and give updates as you get closer. Ideally, give away great content along the way or as the payoff and you can reinvigorate the list.

5: Test and Track

Be sure to occasionally split test your subject lines. See what’s performing best and don’t always go with instinct, but it can be wrong. Let your readers tell you what they prefer, so use the data.

6: What Else

While I’ve stressed the importance of subject lines, there are actually other factors that may play into your email open rate. By this, I’m primarily pointing to the other things that are visible before opening an email. In many email clients this would include the sender’s name and email address — make sure they’re accurate and credible. An actual person works better than a generic company and “info@abcgroup…” for the email address.

Also, the first line in the email will display in many email clients. Make that line worthwhile and think of it as a continuation of the subject line.