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5 Best Practices for Email Subject Lines

August 9, 2022

Yes, we’re judging emails by their covers. Or, in this case, their subject lines.

Try to recall the most recent brand email you received in your inbox. Did you open it, and why or why not? Was the subject line attention-grabbing? Did it sound too clickbait-y? It might not seem like the most important factor in a branded email, but the subject line is the receiver’s first impression of the message, and it could very well be the make or break of whether the email is opened or not.

Read on for our advice on how to craft the best subject lines for emails in your marketing campaigns.

Know your purpose

What is the purpose of the email? What action do you want readers to take? These two questions are essential to know when drafting your subject line. The purpose of the email will help guide what tone your subject line should take. 

If you want readers to make a purchase before a limited-time sale is over, the subject line should take on a sense of urgency. If you want them to register for an event, the line should offer the benefits of doing so.

Keep it short and sweet.

If you don’t listen to any of our other advice, at least take this one piece with you. Keep your subject line short and sweet. 

According to HubSpot, 46% of email opens take place on mobile devices. Not only does the subject line get cut off on mobile devices if it’s too long, but the appeal of the email should effectively grab the attention of the reader in as few words as possible. 

We recommend keeping your subject line under 50 characters. Check out some of our effective examples below.

Check out even more examples of short and sweet subject lines from HubSpot here.

Cut the clickbait

The subject line of an email is like a promise to your readers of what will be waiting for them when they open the message. It can be hard to resist, but it’s important to not be tempted to use clickbait in order to get more opens. You want the subject line to be enticing but not misleading. 

For example, if you’re only offering a 15% off deal, the subject line shouldn’t say “Get ready for our BIGGEST markdowns of the year!” Readers will be expecting larger sales than you’re offering, and while it may hike your open rate, it could leave people disappointed and disillusioned toward your brand.

Don’t overuse punctuation.

This one is simple. Not only should you be concise with your words, but you should be concise with your punctuation as well. Using one exclamation point conveys an exciting message, but two or more exclamation points feel unprofessional and forced. Similarly, using more two or more question marks doesn’t convey any more mystery than using just one.

Offer exclusivity.

People love to feel special. And when they feel special, they’ll keep coming back to your emails for more. Some examples of subject lines with this tone include: 

A gift for you

Your exclusive offer awaits!

You’re invited!

Bonus Tip: Write engaging preview text.

The preview text that displays next to the subject line is almost as important as the subject line itself. It can give further context to the subject line or provide more information about a sale, event, or download. The readers who might not be convinced by a short subject line can be pulled in by the preview text. Not customizing your own preview text is a missed opportunity to engage more readers. 

See some of our effective examples below. 

Need help launching your email marketing campaign? Connect with us by sending a message below! 

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