Writing Subject Lines that Patients Will Actually Open: With 9 Examples to Get You Started

Posted on Sep 25, 2017 by Lori Boyer

Every practice should learn how to write effective subject lines

You've written the best email/newsletter in the history of the healthcare industry. It's informative, educational, and even a little bit witty. You just KNOW that it is going to be an awesome way to connect with patients and keep that schedule full. 

You shoot out the email, feeling a little giddy inside. As the week goes by, however, that feeling starts to sink. Nine percent? Seriously? You achieved an open rate of a measly 9 percent?!? Your brilliant writing was seen by hardly anyone.

This is an extremely common scenario. Thousands upon thousands of great emails are lost to the world because no one ever sees them. Why? Your subject line. 

How can you write subject lines that people actually open?

Rule #1: Keep It Simple. We all want to be clever. But the truth is that your subject line doesn't always have to beCuriosity doesn’t open emails. A clever, creative subject line does not necessarily mean anything. Instead, keep your subject line straightforward. Let people know what they should expect from your email. 

As a topic that has been studied multiple times, experts have discovered this: a subject line should be just that- a subject line. Just a basic summary of your email’s subject. I know. That's lame. Boring. But still true.  So, keep it simple. 

Rule #2: Avoid the Spam Folder: We've all experienced it. Your totally legit email gets sent straight toAvoid the spam folder when writing subject lines spam, never to see the light of day. How do you avoid such a trap? Start by staying away from ALL CAPS and lots of !!!!!!! There are also some words that frequently trigger the spam filter.  Try to avoid these words (and words like these) at all costs:

  • 100% (or any % over 100)
  • Opportunity
  • Free
  • Act Now
  • $$$

Rule #3: Go Short and Sweet. Studies have shown that short email subject lines have much higher open rates than longer ones. For this reason, try to have a subject line with LESS than 50 characters. When trying to cut back a long subject line, look for any extra words that you can cut (they're nearly always there!). 

Rule #4: Try some A/B testing. You should always A/B test subject lines wherever possible. Send the same email out but with two different subject lines. You will quickly see what types of subject lines your audience responds to. Continue tweaking from there. 

Rule #5: Personalize. Many systems today allow you to send group emails while still personalizing the subject line. Putting a patient's name into the subject line significantly increases the chance that they will open the email. 

Need some help? Here are a few subject lines to get those juices flowing:

  • Antibiotics...What You Should Know
  • Meet Dr. Jones
  • Alpine Clinic's 5K is Oct 3-register now!
  • 3 Ways to Reduce Backpain
  • Heartly Dental Loves Fall
  • And the Contest Winner Is...
  • (John), Quick Question
  • Burton Medical Now Offers In-House X-Rays
  • Avoid Tooth Decay

Want more ways to look great to your patients? Read the "9 Steps to Awesome Online Reviews."

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Lori Boyer

Lori Boyer

Lori Boyer has spent over a decade developing content and customer strategy for a wide variety of companies. She especially loves "walking a mile" in the shoes of her target audience. At Solutionreach we focus on relationships - building and maintaining them. She does the same. Lori Boyer is a lover of crisp fall mornings, a good book, and just about anything Beauty and the Beast related.

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