7 Tips for Writing Email Subject Lines

Thought tweeting was hard? Well you’re working with even fewer characters when it comes to email subject lines. But that doesn’t mean you have to be vague, shout at people – or just be plain boring!

Whether you’re sending a monthly newsletter or scheduling emails as part of a marketing automation program, take advantage of some of the following tips to stand out in your recipient’s inbox and get your email opened.

1. Keep it short

No one wants their clever or catchy subject lines to get cut off just a few words short.
What’s your magic number? Take a look at what email clients your email recipients are using.

Most mobile devices only display up to 40 characters. But, when on desktop, email clients like Outlook or Gmail in a browser will show up to 60 or 70 characters.

Check out the email client usage of your list and you’ll get a better idea of exactly the character length you’re working with.

2. Leave ALL CAPS and excessive exclamation mark use behind!!!

Hitting the Caps Lock or using more than one exclamation mark isn’t going to get your email opened. It’s going to get your email sent straight to someone’s Spam folder.

3. Instead, try verbs, numbers or questions

Like with calls to action, using action-oriented verbs will ensure your email recipients know exactly what to do with your email, whether it’s registering, donating, or finding your closest location.

Contrary to popular belief, including a number in your subject line will not send your email to a Spam folder. Instead, including percentages off, the number of items in your listicle, survey data or other numbers can help get your emails noticed.

Using a compelling question as your subject line is especially effective when sending an email to just one segment of a larger email list. That’s because the more relevant the question is to the recipient, the more likely they are to click through to find out the answer.

4. Hey [FIRST NAME], use personalization

Think about how many emails you get on any given day – or better yet in any given hour!

What better way to catch someone’s attention than to literally call them out by name?

5. Try emojis 💯

Using emojis is another way to help your emails stand out. Don’t be afraid to give them a try, regardless of your industry or your company’s guidelines around voice and tone.

While the majority of operating devices recognize emojis, I’d still recommend against using them to “replace” words and phrases in your subject lines, in the off chance they don’t display correctly. Instead, think of them as an enhancement or accent!

Take a look at these Liquid examples:

We went with “3 Major Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid 👎” instead of “3 Major Content Marketing 👎 to Avoid.”

We went with “Will AI 👽 Impact Your Marketing Strategy?” instead of “Will 👽 Impact Your Marketing Strategy?”

6. Support subject lines with preheader

Preheader is the line of text that displays just below the subject line in your email’s inbox preview. Put simply, it gives context to your subject line.

More and more email templates are including a space for preheader and more and more email clients are supporting it. Start taking advantage of it!

Check out these Liquid examples:

Subject line: “Did you try clearing your cache?”
Preheader: This is why we’re asking.

Subject line: Sh*t Happens
Preheader: It’s how you recover that drives the outcome

7a. A/B Test Your Subject Lines
7b. Use A/B Testing with Subject Lines

Curious about how your email recipients will react to emojis? Test it.

Not sure which stat is more compelling to include? Test it.

Are you generally stuck between two subject lines you think will both be effective? Test it! You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Bookmark, Pin, or print this list, and make sure you reference it the next time you’re writing a subject line for an email.

Thinking about getting started building an email list, creating an email schedule with a standardized template or setting up your first drip campaign?

Fill out our quick form to get some assistance from us!
Don’t worry, the auto-generated subject line is one that’ll catch our attention.