Subject lines in email

What gets your email opened? The subject line, of course! Just like a newspaper headline, the subject line has to be curiosity-provoking.

Winning subject lines include “Top 5 Tips For…” or “7 Need to Know Strategies…” or “Best Ways to…” These subject lines imply that the content of your email will be valuable, brief, and to-the-point.

You can increase the likelihood that your email will be opened if you add a little recognition of your company or organization to the subject line. For example, you could include its name or acronym, such as “Fletcher Prince’s Quick PR Tips.”

Because people are reading email on their Blackberries and cell phones, keep your subject lines under 40 characters (about 5-8 words).

There are a few words that can send your email right into the bulk or spam folder, however. Never, never use these!

These words and symbols may put your email right into the bulk (or spam) folder. Do not use the words free, sale, or advertisement in your subject line! Avoid them in the body of your emails, as well. Also skip using the “$” sign, all caps, or lots of exclamation points or question marks.

Instead, substitute these words for “free:” “our treat” or “on the house” or “be our guest.”

It’s also actually against the law to promise something in your subject line (such as a free recipe) and then fail to deliver on that promise in your email.


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on May 27, 2009, in Email Marketing Tips. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Mary,

    I like the points you make here.

    The ‘from line’ also gets emails opened. There’s one ezine in particular I subscribe to and the reason I open this guy’s emails is because I know the author always presents interesting ideas inside.

    Also, I have a list that gets an average open rate of 19% regardless of what the subject line says.

    Of course, I do work hard to create compelling subject lines. And a real good one gets a 43-47% open rate.

    But the relationship between the list members and list owner is paramount.

    Take away: Never underestimate the power of a good relationship.

    It’s probably comparable to caller-ID on your phone. All you see is the name of the caller. But you still answer if you like the person even if you don’t know why they’re calling.

    Something to think about.


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