8 Simple Rules for Writing Stellar Email Subject Lines

Writing Stellar Email Subject Lines

How to Write Email Subject Lines That Will Get Your Email Read

The average person receives over 100 emails a day.

Most of them are deleted without ever being opened. If you want to make sure your marketing email isn’t sent straight to the trash folder, then you need a solid email subject line.

The email subject line is what determines whether your email is read or simply deleted. Having a good email subject line is actually more important than the email itself. If your email subject line is subpar, then it doesn’t matter how amazing your email is because no one will read it.

Here are 8 simple rules for writing attention-grabbing email subject lines that will get your email read.

Rule #1: Keep It Short

A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line.

For several years, the common rule of thumb has been to make sure your email subject line is 50 characters or fewer. However, mobile phones usually show just 25 to 30 characters of an email subject line. Did you know that fifty percent of emails are read on mobile phones? If you want the entire subject line to be viewable, keep it short.

Rule #2: Say the Important Stuff First

This rule is related to rule #1.

Since you may only have 25 or 30 characters to grab a person’s attention, say the important stuff first. Otherwise, essential details might be cut off.

Rule #3: Get to the Point

Your email subject line should communicate exactly what the email is about.

Let the recipient know right off the bat what’s in it for them. This is not the time for longwinded prose. Save that for your blog. (Just kidding! Here’s what you really should be doing with your blog.)

Your email subject line needs to give the recipient a reason to open it. It should provide specific, useful information. You can also convey a sense of timeliness or urgency with your email subject line. For example, “Only one day left …” People are more likely to open your email if they feel they’ll miss out on something if they don’t.

Tweet thisRule #4: Avoid These Words

Protect yourself with these important rules.

When writing an email subject line, here are a few words to avoid if you don’t want your email to be mistaken for spam:

  • Free This word is often a spam trigger. Use it thoughtfully and sparingly.
  • Help Since a plea for help is a common spam tactic, people are growing wary of opening emails with this word in the subject line.
  • !!! OK. That’s not exactly a word, but you should still use exclamation points sparingly. One well-placed exclamation point is probably fine. But three is definitely overkilled.
  • Recipients’ Names Another common spam tactic. Using a recipient’s name (especially first and last name) in the subject line may seem like you’re adding a personal touch, but it actually comes across as impersonal. Everyone knows it’s automated, anyway.

Rule #5: Steer Clear of the Caps Lock Key


Rule #6: Don’t Reuse Subject Lines

When you send out similar email messages over time, it may be tempting to reuse an email subject line that really soared. While it may have worked will the first time, repeated use of the same subject line decreases open rates over time. After all, if the subject line seems familiar, your recipient will probably assume they’ve read the email already and delete it.

Rule #7: Be Clever, But Not Too Clever

You want your email subject line to grab the recipient’s attention, but you don’t want to come across as another sleazy marketer. If your email subject line contains a lot of jargon or sounds like a sales pitch, it will probably be ignored.

However, it can good to include puns, rhymes, alliteration, or other word tricks that grab attention, as long as they aren’t too cheesy.

Want another tip for writing email subject lines that convert? Ask a question. Email subject lines that contain a question generally have higher open rates.

Rule #8: Know Your Audience

You can write the most clever, informational email subject line in the world. But it will fall flat if you’re sending it to the wrong audience. The most important rule of all when writing email subject lines is to know your audience – and tailor your message to their interests.

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