Posted by Bethany Handy ● June 13, 2016

The Art of Creating Killer Email Subject Lines

Over 205 billion emailsare sent and received every day according to Radicati, yet many of these never get opened.

This is especially true of emails marketers and businesses send to prospective customers.


One of the key reasons many emails are abandoned in mailboxes is an uninspired, unengaging, or spammy subject line. In fact, 33% of recipients open emails based on the subject line alone, according to HubSpot.

Even if your emails contain valuable content and enticing offers and are sent at the right time, if your subject lines are not optimized for your audience, your email campaign will likely under perform. Learn how to create killer email subject lines that will improve your email open rates.      

  1. Keep your subject lines short and to the point. Emails with subject lines containing 30 or fewer characters have the best open rates. What’s more, 40% of emails are opened on mobile first, where the average screen fits a maximum of 4 to 7 words, which makes short subject lines more effective for mobile users as well. While 30 characters may prove too low for certain subject lines, you should always aim to use as few characters as possible.
  2. Avoid including the words you, quick, meeting, newsletter, monthly, cash, quote, and save in your newsletters. Email marketing research shows that these words decrease open rates. Subject lines that include the word you, so abused by email marketing spammers, are opened 5% less.
  3. Add to your subject lines, when relevant, the words tomorrow, free, alert, sale, new, video, daily, and weekly, which have been shown to improve email open rates.
  4. Build a sense of urgency and exclusivity. Emails that include a limited offer, talk about an exclusive event, or include words like tomorrow, today, or 24 hours enjoy better open rates.
  5. Personalize your subject lines to improve open rates. Personalized emails that include the recipient’s name are more likely to get opened than those that don’t.
  6. Build your subject lines with action-oriented verbs rather than descriptive words, as these are more engaging.
  7. Make your exclusive value proposition clear in your subject line. If your email is offering a free report or e-book, a special offer, or any other unique opportunity, make that clear in the subject line.
  8. Be specific. If the purpose of your email is to educate recipients or to share with them tips and tricks, promise them specific results.
  9. Focus on clarity. For most emails, a clear subject line that makes a hard to resist promise is the best approach to getting your recipients hooked.
  10. Avoid boring details. If you want to confirm that you have received a customer support ticket, don’t just email them “Ticket #34252456435 has been received.” Go instead for a more personal approach to show that you really care: “Joe Black, your ticket has been received.”
  11. Consider turning your subject line into an enticing question. This works only for certain subject lines, but it can be highly effective, especially when it comes to educational content. Subject lines in the form of questions like, “Are you making this marketing mistake?” can contain the word you.

In the end, remember that creating highly-effective subject lines is a continuous process. It requires testing, creativity, carefulness, and above all, persistence. And don’t forget to track and compare your open rates constantly, to see how you perform.

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Topics: Email Marketing