Email Subject Line Tips

Subject lines -do you start every email campaign with a subject line that encapsulates the message in one easy-to-read headline? Do you make it short, easy to understand, and most importantly, shareable? Or do you wait until the last second before you send your campaign and throw a subject in as an afterthought?

Either way (and you know which way you should be doing it), here are some tips that will help you reach the inbox and will help you get your emails read.

    • Stay away from popular spam words that spam filters look for.
    • Don’t use multiple exclamation marks, multiple dollar signs, or ALL CAPS.
    • Use less than 10 words; 5 is even better (the longer the subject line, the higher the risk of getting cut off by email client) – a good rule of thumb is keeping it to 30-36 characters.
    • Identify yourself – consider branding the email with your company’s name in brackets “[Net Atlantic] Quarterly Newsletter Sept 09”

According to Jupiter Research, “including the company name in the subject line can increase open rates by up to 32 percent over a subject line without branding.”

    • Always use a unique subject line.

  • Most email clients will not display subject lines beyond 40 and 60 characters, so put your most important point at the beginning (“7 Ideas to Boost…” vs. “Newsletter includes 7 Ideas to Boost…”.
  • Provide date or sense of urgency (“Only Three Days Left,” “One Week Left,” “Contest Ends Today”).
  • Promote a numbered list (“10 Reasons…,” “4 Ways to…,” “5 Steps to…”).
  • Make it relevant (the subject line should merely describe the content of the email).
  • Add personalization (adding recipients’ first name often boosts open rates).
  • Focus on the benefits (make sure your subject line relates to the content of your mailing).
  • Testing is the only way to determine what works and what doesn’t. So, refining your subject lines by testing content and length will ensure optimal performance.

In some instances, particularly if you have a long newsletter packed with offers and content, a long subject line can function as a preview to the email content. Most email clients will still cut off the subject line after 60 or so characters, but once the user opens the email the full subject line is displayed – and it’s suggested that this is what they’ll read first. However, it still makes sense to optimize the first 60 characters to include the most important content from the issue in each subject line.

Unfortunately, spam filters are not foolproof and sometimes they grab perfectly legitimate messages. It’s not always about the subject line used; it’s often about the content. Spam filters tend to work with formatting rather than words, so your text to graphics ratio is also important. The most essential thing to remember is that your email should be anticipated by the recipient (Are they expecting your email? Did they opt-in?); it should be relevant; and, lastly, it should offer value.

Happy sending!

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