How to write effective email subject lines

There’s no denying the power of email marketing. But while it should be a crucial part of any business’ communication strategy, how do you make sure it’s working successfully?

If you went back 20 years, you would probably see businesses using phone calls and direct mailing as their main methods of contacting existing and potential customers.

While both of these are still valid options, email has risen significantly in importance. And despite other digital solutions becoming available, email has remained a crucial method of mass communication for most businesses.

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Many though overlook the importance of the email subject line. They say don’t judge a book by its cover but many consumers will, so if the subject line you’re including on emails isn’t effective and engaging, your messages could be deleted immediately, eradicating all the effort you’ve put in.

Here’s some top tips to consider when drafting your next marketing email – to help get your start-up results.

Get to the point

Many consumers are busy people, working for most of the day themselves, so they may only get a few moments during their day or once home in the evening to check personal emails. As people quickly scan their emails, if a subject header is too long, they may not make the effort to even read it properly and just delete it without even opening the email.

Try to make subject headers punchy so readers know exactly what’s within them quickly and simply.

Make it personal

A marketing campaign should always feel personalised, as it’s something that has been especially sent to a targeted person – your prospective or existing customer.


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So try and make it matter to that person. Include their name or a topic relevant to them like their home city in the subject of email, show the recipient that you know them and you want this relationship to grow.

Sales aren’t made in one line

It would be very rare for someone to see a subject line and immediately decide to buy something. The aim of a subject line is to get the reader to open the email, and within the email is where you should make your sales pitch.

If you throw too many words like ‘sale’ or ‘free’ into subject lines the reader might feel they’re being pressured into something. But worse than this, filters may actually think these emails are spam and move them to junk inboxes.

Be wary

Everyone is different and so are their reactions, but the words below should generally be avoided, no matter to whom your messages are going:

  • Days of the week – if you send a message out containing the word ‘Monday’ and it isn’t read until later that week it gives off the impression of being dated and irrelevant, even if the content is of importance.
  • Needless adjectives – is your product ‘perfect’? It’s not for you to decide, and the user may struggle to do so if they feel you’re pushing them to. Equally if you use ambiguous words like ‘good’ this doesn’t really deliver anything to the reader except more characters to read.
  • Technical terms – just because you understand details about your products doesn’t mean the reader does. Don’t be tempted to throw acronyms and jargon into a subject just to make it snappier, as a lack of understanding could lead to an increase in clicking the delete button.

Where’s it coming from?

Maintaining a professional image and establishing credibility are both very important to businesses of any size. The risk of using a free email address is that your business may come across as unprofessional or that you don’t care about your brand – both turn offs for a potential customer.

Establishing a personalised business email address is very simple and can be done with minimal investment using a domain name registrar, the company through which you get your domain name.

Here is a helpful additional guide if you want to find out more about setting up your own personalised business email address: 3 ways to set up a business email account.

This article is a part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign.

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  1. Nice info. I guess the best approach is to keep it simple, to the point and using call to action words. What do you think how much images should be used withing email content, do they make any good impact?