The most important part of any email marketing campaign is the subject line of each email. That subject line will determine whether or not the email will ever be opened; if your subject line can’t convince the majority of receivers to open your email, then what’s the point of coming up with great content?

Before you start writing a subject line, think about a few of these characteristics:

  1. Size – The subject line should be neither too long nor too short. It’s hard to know exactly how long it should be, however, because different email programs cut it off at different lengths. MailChimp, a program that helps manage email campaigns, recommends about 50 characters. In order to figure out the optimal length, the best thing to do is test out different ones.
  2. Spamming – Many email programs know to look for the word “free” and send it right to the spam folder. Similarly, words like “help,” “percent off,” and “reminder,” will get past the spam filter, but come across as spam to the reader. Avoid using caps lock, exclamation points, and cheesy promotional phrases for the same reasons.
  3. Target – Generally, email recipients no longer fall for their name in the subject line. They understand that it’s not actually personalized – just a program. Instead, use their specific location. This tends to get a better open rate.
  4. Timing – Instilling a sense of urgency does tend to generate more opens.
  5. Frequency – Sending emails too often can absolutely turn your customers off. LinkedIn is notorious for this. Make sure you aren’t annoying your audience!
  6. Transparency – Tell the reader upfront the point of the message. Be clear and direct.
  7. Leave them wanting more – Give the reader a reason to open up the email. If all of the information is in the subject line, they won’t need to read the contents inside. A good example of this is “Your Account Info” or “Monthly Stats.” It’s direct and clear, but still leaves the bulk of the information inside of the email.
  8. Entice! – Writing email subject lines is a lot like writing headlines for articles. Some of the same rules apply: list posts and asking questions of the reader tend to do very well. Use strong and exciting buzzwords. Mentioning news or trending topics is also a good idea.

It’s small and simple, but the subject line can make or break your email marketing campaign. Each one should be written with the utmost care. Test out different strategies and see what works best for your email campaign. Let us know about your findings in the comments!


“What are some best practices in writing email subject lines?” (22 Oct. 2013).

Ugi, Joy. “5 Easy Tips to Make Your Subject Lines Stand Out in a Crowded Inbox.” (22 Oct. 2013).

Smith, Shanelle. “8 Tips for Creating Effective Email Subject Lines.” (22 Oct. 2013).