Creating a Winning Subject Line

You have 2 seconds and less than 50 characters to grab your reader’s attention with the subject line of your email marketing campaign, so it is absolutely vital that you optimise this space.

Your email campaign's subject line significantly influences your open rate. The most successful subject lines are straightforward and benefit-focused.

Subject lines which accurately represent the contents of the email will have a positive cumulative effect. It will erode your subscribers' trust if your subject lines routinely over-promise and your emails under-deliver.

There's no need to get overly creative with your subject lines. Subject lines that are overly creative or vague are often mistaken for spam. Here are a number of ways of maximising your subject line's impact.

Clearly and accurately state what the email is about

Whether you're promoting a sale, a special promotion, a donation drive, or sending a regular newsletter, use the simplest, most direct words for what you are doing in the subject line. If your subscribers can't immediately grasp what the email is about – because they have to decode a pun or remember what 'sesquipedalian' means – they are less likely to open it.

Arouse curiosity in your subscriber

While you don’t want to mislead your subscriber as to the content of your email and leave them disappointed, you do want to try arouse a certain amount of curiosity. You want them to read the email because they are drawn in by your subject line and want to find out more.

Personalise the subject line with your recipient's name

Using your subscriber's name in the subject line can help to grab their attention. This is especially useful if they are skimming through a large number of emails. "Alice – check out our new stock" is better than "Check out our new stock" alone.

Create a sense of urgency

People are more likely to open an email if they think that there is a risk of missing out on something if they don't. "Sale – today only" or "Limited stock left" will get more people to open the email. Only do this if there is in fact a time limit on the information in the email.

Crafting a winning subject line isn't easy. It will take a certain amount of trial and error before you can do it consistently. Don't be tempted to think that your copy will compensate for a weak subject line. Without a good subject line, fewer people will open your emails to read your copy.

Always aim to write clearly expressed subject lines which highlight the benefit of opening the email to the subscriber


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