Creating great email subject lines

Creating catchy email subject lines is essential to persuade your email recipient to open your email. How will your email stand out in a crowded inbox? Here are 14 tips to help your email avoid going straight to trash.

14 tips for email subject lines

1. Consider your audience

When you’re drafting your email, remember who you are communicating with and use language that is appropriate to them. Segment your lists so you can tailor your emails and make them more relevant.

2. Remember your goals

Decide what action you want the recipient to take (e.g. are you trying to make a sale or update them on some latest news?) and draft accordingly.

3. Keep it short and sweet

If your email subject line is too long, it will get cut off, particularly if viewed on a mobile. Restrict your subject lines to a max of 50 characters. The more clear and concise your subject line is, the better.

4. Personalise

Adding the recipient’s name or location to your email subject line will make the email feel more personal.

5. Use a familiar sender name

Avoid using generic email addresses (e.g. info@) and send the email from a real person. Personal email addresses look more genuine.

6. Begin with action-oriented verbs

Email subject lines that start with action verbs tend to be more enticing and engaging, e.g. “Enjoy a relaxing facial for less.” is more appealing than, “Low price facial offer.”

7. Don’t make false promises or claims

Encouraging a recipient to open an email with a false or misleading claim is not only disingenuous but will annoy them. Your subsequent open rates will take a hit as a result.

8. Avoid SHOUTY capitals

Capital letters in an email subject line make a recipient feel like they are being shouted at, which is a not a great start to a conversation!

9. Convey a sense of urgency

Where appropriate, use urgent language so your recipient feels they must open your email immediately, or else they’ll miss out, e.g. “One-day sale.”, or “Sale ends today.”

10. Restrict your use of exclamation marks!!!!!

One is sufficient, any more and you will turn people off. It looks cheap, unprofessional (as grammatically you should only use one) and spammy.

11. Ask a question

Asking a relevant question helps draw people in as it piques interest, e.g. “Are you feeling the heat?” could be the subject line from a company offering air conditioning units (best sent during a heat wave!).

12. Include numbers

Using numbers in your subject line encourages people to open your email, e.g. “6 reasons why..” or “Hear from 7 inspirational speakers in 1 day.”

13. Make people feel special

An element of exclusivity makes people feel special, e.g. “An exclusive offer for you.” or “Your private invitation.”

14. Use a pun

Clever puns can make your emails more interesting and fun. Don’t overdo it, however, and consider if it’s appropriate for your audience first.

Writing good email subject lines can take practice. If you analyse the open rates on your emails, you will start to build a picture of what works best for your audience and product.

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