Screwing Up the “Oh-So Important” Email Subject Line

Published by: Mira Martinez    |   Category: Blog, Email Deliverability, Email Marketing    


Email Marketing Success

At Email Answers we manage and deploy quite a few email marketing campaigns for our customers on a daily basis.  Some of our customers rely on us to design their email ads/creatives and come up with enticing subject lines, while other customers choose to take on the task themselves and depend on us to deploy their campaigns and deliver their messages to the user’s inbox.  While some customers understand the importance of a good email marketing subject line, others simply don’t get it or have a clue. It’s more difficult than you would think trying to explain to a customer that using 25 words is not better than using 5 or 6. Using keywords such as; 50% off, SALE, Discounts, Act Now or using ALL CAPS simply won’t cut it. Explaining to a customer that “Not Selling” in a subject line and simply tweaking a user’s interest is the correct way to get a user to open your email and see what it is you’re offering.

Decisions about an email are made in just seconds. Think about how long it takes to decide to open and read an email or just delete it.

What is a good subject line?

The best email subject lines are intriguing, interesting and tempting. They scream “I’ve got an important message for you” and all you have to do is open me to find out what it is. Don’t hide the subject of your subject.  (You like that huh?) Keep your subject simple, concise, to the point and direct.

What is a bad subject line?

Using a terrible subject line is worse than not sending an email campaign at all. A poorly crafted subject line will only act to get your email deleted faster than it was received. Your objective is not to sell in the subject line, but to peak someone’s interest in your email and get them to open it, which will take them to your website and hopefully lead to a sale.

  1. Spelling Errors: Don’t misspell words in your subject line. Take the time to check your spelling.
  2. ALL CAPS: Don’t use all CAPITAL LETTERS. Be smart and use proper capitalization.
  3. A Fake Reply: This isn’t 2005. Don’t add Re: in the subject line to make it appear as though it is a continuation of a previous email conversation.
  4. Excessive Punctuation: Don’t make your subject line scream spammer with!!!!!!!!!! .
  5. Don’t Cry Wolf: Using URGENT or IMPORTANT MESSAGE in your subject line is bad. Don’t do it unless it is truly urgent, and then still don’t use all caps.
  6. Pre-Header: Don’t duplicate your subject line in the pre-header. Is there a purpose to have a duplicate subject line appear?
  7. Sneaky Subject: Don’t be sneaky or misleading. Can-Spam (A Federal Law enacted to ensure you don’t spam) say’s; your subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  8. Length: Your subject line will perform better using 4-6 words versus using more. In this case more is less. Try and keep it short and to the point.
  9. News: Don’t call it news if it isn’t news or newsworthy.
  10. Spammy Words: Try and avoid words like; Free, Discount, % OFF, etc.

As with most things in life and email marketing, using common sense and sticking to the rules of rational behavior will take you pretty far. Be smart about your marketing initiative and follow the rules. Remember, everything you do has consequences.


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One Response to Screwing Up the “Oh-So Important” Email Subject Line

  1. Larry Shore says:

    Good article. It really does only take a second or so to delete an email or decide to read it. Thanks for the insight.