Perfect Email Subject Lines

How many emails do you get a day? 

A fair few I’d warrant. It’s the same for everyone else. And it’s the reason why you need to make your email stand out. How? An absolutely incredible subject line. It’s the first thing your recipient will see, and ultimately the decisive factor over whether your email gets opened or binned. Getting the perfect email subject lines can feel like a fine art. But like any fine art, practice makes perfect, with the help of a few hints and tips along the way.  

Tip #1 –Short and sweet 

Typically, an inbox will display roughly 60 characters of a subject line, whilst on a mobile, it’s even less. That means you have about 6-8 words to convey your message, or as few as 3-4 for mobiles. Get straight to the point, writing briefly, but informatively at the same time. I mean, that sounds simple, right? Be sure to test your subject line too, to make sure it doesn’t cut off at an awkward place. Yes, it can happen to the best of us. And yes, it has happened to us. See the mistake we made before here… 

Tip #2 – 9 out of 10 people like statistics in subject lines… 

Ok, this may not be 100% correct, but in our experience including numbers and statistics do help boost email open rate. Think along the lines of ‘54% of people…’ or ‘8 ways to…’. This helps let the recipient know what they can expect when they open the email. Plus, it’s an immediate way of showing effectiveness, rather than trying to explain how great your product is in a convoluted paragraph of text.  

Tip #3 – Get personal, you email connoisseur 

Adding personalisation to an email can make it seem like you are speaking directly to the recipient. You immediately engage them in your email. This is really easy to do with the use of merge fields. Add data such as recipient name, company name or renewal date to your subject line. It depends on what data you think important, to how advanced you take your dynamic content.   

Tip #4 – What about questions?  

Questions are another great way of engaging the customer. Make them relevant to your target audience, giving you a higher chance of piquing your recipient’s interest. By doing so, you are likely to at least be granted an open. It doesn’t have to be a hard question either, just keep it in line with your audience’s interests.  

Tip #5 – Show your true colours 

Adding personality to your subject line is a great way to show the ethos of your company.  If you promote yourself as a fun-loving company, make your subject lines reflect that. Perhaps puns are the way forward, and maybe you can adapt your tone to better suit the image you’re going for.  

A side note on puns: use in moderation, and if in doubt, always ask a co-worker! 

Tip #6 – Be informative about your email’s subject 

Whilst your subject line still needs to be reasonably short, it should also be explanatory of what your email covers. You are aiming to offer an insight into your email, what your reader can expect when they open it. So, be clear on the topic! This also allows your recipient to prioritise the email’s importance, in amongst the others they’ve already got.  

Tip #7 – Incite Action 

We’ve already discussed using questions in your subject line to engage your reader, but they can also help signify that you’re expecting a response. Using action verbs is also a great way of inciting a response, or sign up, or click, whatever you’re looking for. By including an action verb (preferably at the start) you place a particular image into your contacts head. They are more likely to imagine themselves there, doing what you’ve proposed.  

Tip #8 – Don’t overcomplicate 

Your email should have a singular focus, and so your subject line should focus on communicating this aim.  Emphasise one thing in your subject line, and one thing only. Keep it simple, and clear what action you desire. So if it’s an event you’re promoting, make it obvious. You get the idea.  

Tip #9 – Quick! Create urgency 

By including a timeframe, your recipient will be inclined to respond quicker. There’s a sense of importance behind the information now. If you don’t act fast, you could miss out altogether. Phrases such as ‘limited space’ or ‘seats are running out’ can create this urgency.  

Tip #10 – Check, Test, Perfect 

Our final tip is to check your work! Chances are, you’re already doing this, but we wanted to make sure. Reread your subject line to make sure there’s no spelling or grammatical errors (unless that’s intentional). It’s a sure-fire way to guarantee at least one response. Trust us, if our spelling mistake split tests have taught us one thing, it’s that people will respond simply to correct your grammar. Sounds like a good thing at first glance, but it doesn’t always end with the outcome you want!  

But on the topic of split tests, they are a great way of identifying what works for your audience. Test different variations such as spelling mistake vs. no spelling mistake, long vs. short, and my personal least favourite: subject line vs. no subject line. Use the outcome of your testing to influence future subject lines.  

Use the tools available to you to make your email the best it can be. Use an inbox checking tool, and our deliverability plug-in, SendForensics, for peace of mind that your email will look great in every inbox (and make it there in the first place).  

And finally, don’t forget about your super subject line! Alongside your subject line, you’ve got an extra 50 characters which typically display below your subject line in the preview pane. Make use of these to add even more detail to your email.  Perfect your subject line to boost your open rate figures, and throw in a couple more changes to achieve an even higher open rate if you’re feeling brave.


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