Optimizing Your Email Subject Line

Email-Subject-Line2“Are you getting my emails?”

If you’ve ever seen a subject line like this and cringed, you understand how an email can leave you cold – even if it’s from a company you have an established business relationship with.

The subject line is the first thing anyone sees when they get your email – usually before checking who it came from. It needs to grab attention, but forget the bait and switch: The sun has set on subject lines like “I really need your help” that push users’ panic buttons.

All that does is cause prospects to say “You tricked me!” and move on.

Luckily, there are plenty of positive, effective ways to optimize your email’s subject:

Keep it Short

Different studies have gotten different results when it comes to subject line length. Still most experts are in agreement that “shorter is better.” Keep the subject line between 40 and 50 characters: It helps the user scan quickly and won’t get cut off on the screen.

Put the Incentive Up Front

Being cute or quirky could make your campaign less successful – users want to understand “what’s in it for them” when they open your email. Incentivize with your offer. If your products are 10% off or your big sale starts tonight, your subject line should say so.


Go for Deep Personalization

Personalizing an email subject with the user’s name is an important first step, but most people are used to this by now. If you can personalize with things like location or a product you know the user has considered, do it! It’s also important to always test emails … getting a message that starts “Hey, $NAME$ …” will torpedo your future open rates with that reader.

Use Emojis Carefully

Emojis can be an effective way to spice up your subject line, but take it with a grain of salt. Younger, tech-savvy users are more likely to approve of emojis and enjoy them being used well. Today’s spam emails are rife with tons of emojis, so overusing them can land you in a filter.

Design Your Email for Optimal Preview Text

Most email clients pull in the first text after the subject line as the preview text. Think of this like the meta description of a Web page: If it’s focused and descriptive, it can improve click-through, but if you forget about it, it will usually just be a mangle of text. Make sure that the one to two sentences you want to use as the preview are the very topmost thing inside the message.

Commercial email is here to stay. Messages to your subscriber list can yield huge ROI. Before you click “Send,” though, give real thought to your subject!