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How to Write Effective Subject Lines in Email Marketing


Have you ever been annoyed at how of all the spam emails make it into your email inbox and wonder how many minutes of your life are wasted on hitting a junk mail button a few times a day? On the other hand, have you ever found out about a great shopping deal, networking event, or other opportunities through email that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise? You’ve probably experienced the good and bad of email marketing, and it seems that despite the dark side of spam, email marketing still works!

40% of consumers say they have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox. (HubSpot, 2020) For that reason, subject line design is a huge topic in the area of Internet marketing, as organizations of all kinds from large corporations to small non-profits try to master those few seconds of engagement to secure high email open rates.

So how do marketers make their emails stand out among others, and how do they avoid being marked as spam? Here are a few things that can be done:

  1. Include brand name
    People are hesitant to open email from unknown senders because they are swamped with SPAM. Use your brand name to ensure that recipients recognize you as the sender. Bonus Tip: Send the email from a genuine person if possible. A personalized sender name and email address are more likely to be trusted by recipients than a generic one.
  2. Keep it short
    Keep in mind that the ideal length of an email subject line differs between mobile, desktop, and tablets when crafting the perfect subject line for your sales email. The maximum subject line length is usually around 60 characters before the email provider cuts it off. To ensure that each word appears on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices, we recommend a subject line of 41 characters.
  3. Avoid spam terms
    Certain words and terms automatically jump out to recipients as spam including “free”, “sale” and “win” as well as the use of CAPS, ca$h $ymbols and excessive punctuation!!!!! If you really want to advertise something free, try using alternative words like “complimentary”, “on the house” or “giveaway”.
  4. Include exclusivity and personalization
    Reminding recipients that the email is “exclusive” or “for select customers” increases open rates by making them feel valued. Including the recipients’ names or words like “you” and “your” helps make a more personal connection with the reader.
  5. Do some A/B testing
    Brands who incorporate an A/B test in all of their emails see a 48:1 return on investment. (Litmus, 2019) Send out the same email with different versions of the subject line and analyze what’s working and what’s not. Companies like Litmus provide email marketing tools to help you increase your ROIs.

Subject line design can be an easy thing to master with the right knowledge and practice. Once you’ve learned these 5 tips and put them into practice, you’ll start analyzing the emails in your own inbox that fail to get your attention and the reasons behind that; perfect opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes!

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