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How to Write Effective Subject Lines in Email Marketing


Ever get sick of all the spam emails that 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!

Research shows that 69% of people will hit the junk mail button based solely on the email subject line(Email Sender and Provider Coalition), and marketers only get an average of 2 to 5

seconds to engage an email recipient with just that (JupiterResearch). 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
    Adding your brand name to the subject line can increase open rates by 60% (JupiterResearch). Recipients skimming through subject lines are much more likely to click on the email if they can clearly associate it with a recognizable brand.

  2. Keep it short
    A typical inbox will show 30-40 characters of an email subject line. It’s best to aim for 5-8 words maximum (Marketing Sherpa). Don’t neglect the large market of mobile users as well; typical mobile devices only show about 15 characters of an email subject line; you don’t want mobile users to miss the important keywords in your subject line.

  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 EXCESSIVE 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. Also 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
    It’s a great idea to do some experimenting. Send out the same email with different versions of the subject line and analyze what’s working and what’s not. Lots of email marketing websites like ConstantContact make A/B testing very easy to do and this can be a very useful tool.

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 noticing 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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