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Best Practices for Email Subject Lines

Date: 18/04/2023

No matter how great the content of your email is, if your subject line doesn’t entice your subscribers to open it, you won’t benefit from the effort you put into it.

Therefore, your subject line should be the most thought-out and finely crafted phrase of your email to grab the attention of your recipients.

And once you’ve done that, you will be able to share your the full content of your email.

BEWARE – it is very easy to include words or phrases that cause spam issues with your email – and decrease its delivery to your audience.

The main culprits are FREE, order, buy, deal, £££, #1, offer, additional income, earn extra cash, cash, credit cards, stock, no purchase necessary, no obligation (and similar no ….), call now, apply now, access.

You may feel you really can’t think of another alternative.  It is tricky sometimes…

You can always test what impact using one of these words has…

Just remember not to add lots of exclamation marks or other punctuation either!


What makes a good subject line?

Good subject lines are often personal or descriptive, and give people a reason to want to read your content. If you collect personal information such as people’s names or birthdays, you could use merge tags to include this information within your subject lines. This could then make your recipients feel like the email is specifically aimed at them and make them more likely to want to open it.

Keeping it short
For many recipients, especially those reading your emails on mobile devices, shorter is often better as subject lines that are too long, could get cut off.

You should try to stick to 50-60 characters or less so that your email subscribers are able to quickly get an idea of what they can get out of reading your email.

Including call to actions
Call to action phrases can immediately gain the attention of your recipients, as it gives them an idea of the purpose of your email and what they will need to do before they even open it.

The call to action could be to watch a video – mentioning video in your subject line can potentially increase curiosity and lead to more opens.

Creating a sense of urgency in your subject line is a good way to encourage people to read your email content – eg about it being the last few days of early bird ticket prices for an event.

Asking questions
Asking questions in your email subject line involves your subscribers in the conversation. Subject lines that include questions can quickly give the impression that the content of your email relates to your recipient making them more likely to want to read the content.

Being descriptive
Sometimes, it’s better to make your subject lines direct and descriptive rather than trendy. Slogans such as “Sizzling summer bargains” can be popular, but don’t offer a specific hook, or make your recipient want to read on. Instead, try to communicate the benefits of your promotions, or call attention to specific content from your email.

Using emojis
Using emoji in your email subject lines can be an effective and attention-generating technique to increase your email open rates. Make sure you test any emoji in your email subject lines before sending to your recipients to avoid it looking like a ☐ in their inboxes. And don’t overdo it… one or two is enough or it could raise spam concerns and your email won’t get delivered.


Comparing subject lines

A good way to compare whether a subject line works well or not is to undertake A/B testing.

A/B testing is a way of comparing how version A of something, like your email subject line, performs compared to version B, within an audience, like your contact list. Usually version A is sent to half of your audience and version B is sent to the other half – often this can be half of just a segment of your audience, and then whichever subject line leads to the most opens of your email (the winner of the test), is used for the email that is sent to the rest of your audience for that email.


Do you use Mailchimp as your email platform?

Mailchimp’s subject line helper, which usually appears when writing your subject line, can be super helpful…

Need help?

If you would like help with your email marketing we’d be delighted to help from our office near Eastbourne in East Sussex or via Zoom, so why not get in touch?

We also offer Mailchimp Training if you’d prefer to learn how to use Mailchimp yourself, rather than use our ongoing email marketing services.


More blogs you might enjoy…

Using Emojis and symbols in your email subject lines!
How to Optimise your Exhibition Marketing
Changes to Google Analytics – Vital Steps You Need to Action Now

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