Email Subject Lines: Dos and Don’ts

Email Subject Lines: Dos & Don'ts

Email marketing is the preferred communication channel for promotional messages across EVERY demographic. It has an ROI of 4,300% and it’s the most direct line of communication for conversation sales. But it won’t you do a darn bit of good if people don’t open your emails. Thus the value of a powerful email subject line.


You only have a chance to convert the people that open your email, so let’s talk about some dos and don’ts when writing email subject lines.


Keep it Short & Sweet


Your email subject line should be 50 characters or less. Creating a snappy email subject line that’s clear and direct has been shown to engage readers more than lengthy sentences. Keeping it short is also practical; more than 50% of email is now being read through mobile devices and only so many characters can fit on a mobile screen.


Be timely & create a sense of urgency


If there’s a sense of urgency about your email make sure to tell your readers about it (One-day sale; Tickets Available for the first 50 people). Follow this up with a strong call to action in your email and you’ve got a winning combination.


A word of caution: if ALL of your emails tell you readers that they must ACT NOW, the sense of urgency wears off. Don’t cry wolf and compel your readers to hurry when there isn’t a real reason.


Newsletters & Recurring Emails


If you’re sending out an email newsletter on a schedule than hopefully your readers look forward to your email and open it because you’re putting out great content. Keep them engaged with fresh subjects lines.


That means your subject line should not be the same every time as no one gets excited about
Acme Newsletter Digest Editions #17.


Take advantage of spam checking software


There are a number of words that can trigger spam filters and make your email less likely to land in the inbox. Many marketers are aware that using the word “free” in your email subject line is a trigger, but a MailChimp study also revealed other words including help, percent off and reminder could also trigger spam filters. This doesn’t mean you can’t use these words. It just means you need to be aware of the risk and the rest of your email should be top notch.


Since it can be hard to remember all the dos and don’ts save yourself a headache and use the spam checker. Most email programs have one, so take advantage of it.




All of these points add up to the same thing: write clear and concise subject lines. Tell your recipients what’s in the email and don’t promise or oversell.




Nicole Krug is a marketing strategy consultant specializing in digital brand management, social media, web development and email marketing. Since founding Social Light in 2009, she has helped clients hone their digital marketing strategies to bring more exposure to their brands and boost their bottom lines.

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