10 Things You need to know about email Subject Lines


As you understand from our attractive and teasing opening title, this post is about the subject line of emails or newsletters (in terms of marketing, obviously), and how you should write them to drive readers to open them.

Among the millions of emails being sent daily (most of which is trash), you want to be noticed, portray reliability and cause the reader to open yours. You already know that the subject line must be short, to the point, attractive and that it must drive to action. So far, no news.

But it appears that this is a more complex topic. The difference between the various types of emails (sales oriented, image portrayal, business oriented or personal), the form of address, the target audience and other factors affect the way you analyze and write the subject line.

Many studies have been conducted by marketing and advertising companies and by companies that develop platforms for preparing and sending automatic mailings or newsletters. So we read them, understood them and applied the principles – and now want to share the philosophy with you (thanks to Amanda McArthur, Megan marrs and Chimp.

Here are 10 tips that, if applied, may significantly increase the opening rate of your digital marketing content.

1. Item list (which we’re using right here) – it appears that sentences like “The 10 things you wanted to say and forgot” or “7 actions that will make you happy” or “3 reasons not to sneeze in the subway” have very high opening rates. Why? Because people need order in life and a list gives them that. It’s practical, it’s clear, readers know what to expect and what they will get.

2. Questions – “Do you think you’ll be able to buy your apartment this year?” “Would you like to become an engineer in two years?” These subject lines make readers pause (for a second), think, and in most cases also read the email to find the answer.

3. Line length – not more than 50 characters. It is true that a longer line sometimes conveys a sense of trustworthiness as well as information and visibility, but usually it should be short and to the point.

4. The line for people in the know – people don’t like to feel they are losing something, that they are outsiders or not in the know. Therefore, lines like “Don’t miss our sale next Monday” or “Only a few places left” or “All apartments in the project have been sold except for one” lead to very nice opening rates.

5. Does and Don’ts in word usage – there are definitely words that you should avoid. Seemingly innocent words that have a negative impact on people opening emails. Words like “free”, “help me”, “discount” “sale” and “reminder” may be considered spam by systems and sometimes convey lack of credibility.

6. Personalization – you know you have to address your reader personally and individually. But some focus groups showed that using the addressee’s name no longer has an effect and may even be considered too marketing oriented or even spam. On the other hand, using a location that is relevant for the reader, for example, “Coming to New York” or “Soon in Chicago” or other characteristics relating to them (hobbies, professional interests) have a significant effect on rates.

7. Straight forwardness – true, sometimes you want to pique the reader’s curiosity, write a vague but attractive teaser. But vagueness may ultimately harm you. In general, remember that people don’t have time and they want to know exactly what’s written in the mail and whether they should open it. A teaser can be suitable when the addressee knows the sender and their field of expertise.

8. Write at eye level – write in an understandable, not condescending language that is at eye level and not too ‘sales pitchy’, a language that generates empathy among your readers and is prominent compared to the hundreds of other incoming mails.

9. Know your audience – this is so important that we cannot stress it enough. The form of address, the tone, the style and the offer – all must be suitable for your audience. Do not underestimate them, do not make them feel they are wasting their time; respect them.

10. Last but not least – it seems that the From line is also important. This line must correspond with the subject line, be clear and even contain the full name of the sender. Just like the subject line, the sender’s information has a significant impact on whether your email will be opened or not.

Ready when you are!

Let’s work together to create game-changing experiences

To fully understand the value of going the Xtra Mile,
we suggest you talk to our clients!

Leave your details and we’ll set up a meeting with one of our customers

Apply for a job