Email Marketing Tips – Subject Lines


Recognising the importance of subject lines is a key step for any email marketer. The subject line represents your opening gambit, your chance to grab the recipient’s attention and encourage them to not only open your message, but to take the time to read your email. Many believe that the subject line is the most important element of an email marketing campaign as if it fails to convert (achieving an open) your email will not be read and the money invested into content, design, testing and sending will be wasted.

Email subject lines must also help your email to avoid spam filters, ensuring that your communications land within the largest number of inboxes as possible. It must also grab the attention and give the recipient an indication of the content within your message. As such subject lines should be crafted; they are worth investing time in and should be considered from the outset, not purely rushed just before the email is sent out.

Below there is a collection of subject line writing tips. As a regular crafter of subject lines however, it is important to point out that with subject lines there are no hard and fast rules, what works for one business may not work for the other. Subsequently the advice below is merely intended as guidance, a collection of considerations to ponder before putting pen to paper, or should I say fingers to keyboard.

Email subject line tips

  • Keep your subject lines simple and straightforward; you have but a fleeting moment to attract your recipient’s attention so make the most of it.
  • Don’t make it too long, a subject line longer than 50 characters (including spaces) is unlikely to be displayed in its entirety within the inbox.
  • If your email campaign has a local emphasis then ensure your subject lines reflect this.
  • It’s an age old tactic within advertising but where appropriate use urgency to encourage opens.
  • Summarise the email content succinctly, if possible in 5 words or less. Put simply; make it clear what the email is about.
  • Including a brand name can be worthwhile and in some instances can improve open rates
  • If sending an email to a subscriber base make it exclusive, treat your subscribers as “members” to emphasise this exclusivity.
  • Don’t regurgitate old lines. Keeping your subject lines fresh is particularly important when sending to a subscriber base.
  • It’s not always about the hard sell, for some business, addressing a problem or providing a solution within your subject line will be key to success.
  • Depending on the audience, consider comedy. A humorous subject line can grab the attention just as well as an outstanding offer.
  • If you’re using numbers don’t spell them one, two, three – 123 has greater impact, can be scan read quickly and also hauls back some precious characters.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or be intriguing with your subject lines, one of the best tactics when creating a line is to inspire curiosity in your recipient.
  • Never mislead your recipient with information or an offer that is not concurrent with the messaging in the email.
  • Try not to go OVERBOARD with caps or punctuation!!!!! Nobody likes to be shouted at.
  • Plan the objective of your subject lines with the goals of the wider email marketing campaign.
  • Prioritise which elements deserve the greatest real estate and to be placed right in the reader’s eye line.
  • Of course you should consider spam filters, but as they become more advanced using words like ‘free’ may become less of a taboo.
  • Try to take calculated risks where possible to advance your tactics.


If you consider these points when writing your subject lines you are setting a good foundation for success. Take your time to write them and of once they are created ask yourself these questions?

Is it useful?

(Does it present a useful message to your recipient?)

Is it relevant?

(Is it relevant to the subject matter and your target user?)

Is it interesting?

(Would you open it if it landed in your inbox?)

Finally, never underestimate the importance of your subject lines and the crucial part they have to play in the success of your email marketing campaigns.

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