Crafting Effective Subject Lines

No one wants to be ignored. It’s imperative to craft effective subject lines for your marketing emails in order to get noticed in a sea of information overload. It’s not really too difficult. Follow a few simple rules that encourage people to open your email and take action to buy your products and services. Take the extra time to create dynamic subject lines that generate a sense of urgency, convey unique benefits and describe specific details. You’ll be glad you did.

Clear and Relevant

To start drafting your subject line, review the body of your email message and jot down a short sentence. Use proper English grammar, include a keyword phrase that’ll get your audience’s attention as they scan their inbox and add the reader’s location if demographic details matter to your business. Then, read the sentence aloud. Cross out all the unnecessary words. This makes your subject line crisp, clear, and easy to read. An eye-catching, imaginative subject line attracts readers. However, don’t be deceptive or misleading as that repels potential readers more often than not.

Call to action

Successful marketing email messages contain subject lines that include a clear call to action. This means telling the recipient what you want them to do. Include the recipient’s name in the subject line and details about products they’ve purchased before and other interests they have. Your aim is to provoke a positive reaction, so resist the temptation to start a subject line with “Bad News” or “Urgent” as these words tend to have the opposite effect. Instead, use phrases like “Last Chance,” “Ends Today” or “Don’t Miss.”

Short and Sweet

Keep your message’s subject line short and sweet — under 50 characters works best. To shorten a lengthy message, try using synonyms or symbols for long words. Insert Unicode symbols into subject lines to differentiate your message, but avoid using too much punctuation, like multiple exclamation points. Focus on telling people what the email is about, not trying to sell a product or service. Remember, the goal is to get people to open the email and read the whole message to improve your clickthrough rate.


Test your subject line. Try it out on colleagues and some current customers. This allows you to check your use of humor and cultural references to validate that they work in this context. Note that if you include a word like “free,” it may be filtered out by spam filters. Start every subject line with a phrase that identifies you to further prevent readers from treating your email as spam. For example, begin each subject line with your company’s name. After you revise, refine and finalize your subject line, monitor your results and maintain a list of successful ones. This helps you to spot and exploit trends in subsequent email headlines.
Taking the time to write great subject lines improves the results of your business’s email marketing campaign. Crafting an effective subject line allows you attract readers with a useful, specific, unique and urgent directive. Good subject lines help you establish a brand presence, trust and compelling influence. While it can be tricky, the effort typically generates a compelling return on your investment.