The Bottom Line on Subject Lines

Subject LinesWhen you send out an email, you want people to open, read, and respond. The key is super subject lines. “Not only can they make or break your email campaign in terms of open rates, they (possibly more importantly) directly impact your deliverability,” says AdStation in its “Pretty Great Guide to Subject Lines.”

Hubspot says, “If you’re reaching out to a prospect via email, you’re either responding to their demonstrated interest (for example, they’ve visited your website, or engaged with your company on social media), or you have a solid reason to believe you can help them…” In fact, research shows that, “35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.”

Subject lines that click

A really terrific subject line must be creative, interest-provoking, and informative… without giving too much away. Over the years, I have found that writing the perfect subject line is no small feat…it takes hard work.

That’s why I’m offering my own tips and tricks for subject lines that can help your open and response rates skyrocket.

Keep them short, sweet, and to the point

Email subject lines get cut off if they’re too long (especially on mobile devices, where 40% of emails are opened first). That’s why I recommend writing subject lines with 50 characters or less to make sure the people scanning your emails read the entire subject line. Some experts recommend 4 to 7 words…or even just 3 words.

Longwinded marketing-speak usually bombs. Remember, a subject line is just a teaser, not the main course. So, get rid of extraneous or distracting words, and cut, cut, cut.

Don’t worry so much

How long do you spend on subject lines? I admit that sometimes I’ve spent hours. But you don’t have to!

What I’ve learned agrees with ContactMonkey’s research suggests, that we are all wasting our time. There is no perfect subject line, so just be simple and personable. When you’re unsure, TEST!

Consider personalization

Using a person’s name or location in the subject line adds a connection, a bond, an affinity…increasing the click-through rate. Just don’t go overboard with the personalization here. That can be a little creepy. But little personalized touches here and there show that you know more about your recipients than just their email address. Consider that you can also personalize by product, local customers, and by offer.

Use a familiar sender’s name

“If the ‘from’ name doesn’t sound like it’s from someone you want to hear from, it doesn’t matter what the subject line is,” explains an article in Litmus.

The amount of spam email people get these days means most people hesitate to open email from unfamiliar senders. Never use “” I repeat: Never use this email address. Not only does it make it look less personable, it also stops people from adding your email to their address book. Instead, avoid using a generic email address and send the email from a real person. For instance, HubSpot found that emails sent from “Maggie Georgieva, HubSpot” performed better in terms of opens and click-through rate than emails sent from just “HubSpot.”

Tell them what’s inside, without false promises

Your email subject line makes a promise to your reader about what you will deliver. Make sure that you make good on that commitment, but do not make any false promises. This will piss off your audience, who will not trust your subject lines (resulting in a lower open rate and a higher unsubscribe rate).

Speaking of making promises, it’s a great idea to use a subject line that says exactly what to expect…like, “get your new ebook inside” or “open for your 7 tips free gift” This works because it makes it clear that something is waiting inside the email.

Use action-oriented verbs

Subject lines that begin with action verbs tend to be a lot more inviting, and your emails could be drastically more clickable by adding a tempting verb at the beginning.

Actionable subject lines will make people want to click on your email by instilling urgency and excitement.

ALL CAPS and exclamation points (!) suck in subject lines

A subject line that says, “OPEN NOW AND RECEIVE A FREE TRIAL” or “50% off coupon!” isn’t going to get you an email open. In fact, it’ll probably get your email ignored. People don’t like to get yelled at, and using all caps and/or a lot of exclamation points can really rub people the wrong way and they look spammy. In fact, according to a study by the Radicati Groupmore than 85% of respondents prefer an all-lowercase subject line to one in all caps or initial caps. 

Have fun with puns and numbers

Most people love a good pun. It’s a great way to surprise and delight your recipients. If you’re the least bit punny, think about small ways you can slip them into your emails when it’s appropriate. Just don’t overdo it. Sprinkling numbers (like percent of savings, relevant statistics, etc.) in your subject line can also set
your email apart from others.

Make it urgent…and exclusive

Stop readers in their tracks with urgency. Using deadlines like “today only” or “24-hour giveaway” will encourage your reader to act now instead of putting it off until later, when there’s a chance of them forgetting it.

Also make them feel special…that they’re getting an exclusive offer. This not only can get them to open your emails, it will also build loyalty. Try using:

  • “An exclusive offer for you”
  • “My gift to you”
  • “You’re invited!”

Be sure to A/B test subject lines

Have more than one perfect subject line? That’s fantastic. With so many strategies and opinions for building the perfect line, it’s easy to see how you could end up with multiple options. A/B testing provides an excellent solution. Once your open rate and click-through data is returned, you can compare the success of the two groups to determine which subject line performed best. The discovery can be used to guide future subject line decision-making or to determine which line to use for mailing your message on a larger scale. (Read this blog post for an A/B testing checklist you can bookmark.)

If your emails aren’t getting opened, they’re not getting seen. You have awesome content to share, you just have to prove it in your subject line. For help, simply talk to the email experts at Solamar.

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