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Email Subject Line Best Practices

2016-10-28 17:41:15

Email subject lines may seem like minor details within a much larger picture, but in fact, they are one of the most important aspects of an email. They are the first impression, the line between intrigue and dismissiveness, the reason someone will mark the message as spam without a second thought. Even though it might come as a surprise, email subject lines are nothing to scoff at. In fact, 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject lines. And as if that wasn’t enough, 35% of email recipients won’t even open an email based on the subject line. These statistics may be intimidating, but they emphasize the importance of email subject lines and getting them right.

Emails are one of the most utilized methods of communication for such a large variety of purposes; it’s no wonder email overload has become such a reality in this day and age. For any and all reasons and purposes, inboxes are receiving a surplus of emails that are all looking for the time and attention of the recipient. Which means that it would be quite easy for said recipient to completely ignore the message you are trying to send out, no matter what the message may be. 



Photo Source: The Horizons Tracker


This is where the email subject line comes into play. The email subject line is used to help filter out the unwanted or unnecessary emails so that the recipient can effectively and efficiently utilize their time. They’ll judge the subject line in a matter of seconds, and if it fails to capture the necessary attention, the email will be thrown away without a second thought. This means that even if the main body of the email includes important or valuable information, it may all go unseen if there is no subject line to catch the intended reader’s attention.

This may all be overwhelming for someone to learn; it puts a lot of pressure on the sender to create an email subject line that will grasp the necessary consideration. However, there are guidelines that can be followed to assist in creating the subject lines needed to grab hold of the recipient and effectively get your message across.


  • Short and Sweet
    • Long subject lines create a sense of disinterest for the reader. What the sender wants to work toward is a catchy subject line that will quickly summarize the nature of the email without overloading the recipient. Not only this, but the email subject line will most likely get cut off if it is too long, completely thwarting any benefits that may come with length. Try to keep the subject line less than 50 words, and focus on putting your best foot forward rather than cramming as much information as you can.


  • Pique Their Interest
    • In order to create a successful subject line, what you choose to say needs to be both interesting and unique. This means staying away from the clichés of email subject lines and focusing more on a hook that captures attention without coming off too strong. Bottom line, use a unique phrase that will entice the recipient to learn more by opening the email. 


  • Convey Importance
    • Subject lines that stand out as important for the recipient are more likely to be clicked than ones that don’t. Try to offer a promise of value, one that benefits the lives or the businesses of the recipients. 


  • Create Trust
    • For those who understand the importance of subject lines, they understand that trust and credibility are essential aspects. Make sure the information in the email is actually consistent with the promise made in the subject line. Additionally, it is crucial that there are no spelling or grammatical errors, as this could immediately discredit your message and deter the reader. 


  • Do Not Mislead
    • This is a key element of a successful subject line. If the sender of an email uses a subject line that is inaccurate and poorly or wrongfully reflects the content of the email, the recipient will immediately unsubscribe or even complain. To prevent this from occurring, make sure your subject line is as specific and accurate as possible so your audience knows exactly what they are about to read. 


Hopefully, these guidelines will assist in creating the perfect email subject line to entice the recipient into reading your email. Remember the basic rules of thumb for proper email subject line etiquette, and you should be sending out emails left and right – no problem! Good luck and happy sending.

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