Write Better Subject Lines: 6.5 Tips

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You painstakingly craft your email message, use a spectacular design, and decide on the strongest CTA. You’re poised for success.

But nobody reads your email.

There’s one little insidious element that can hamstring even your best email marketing intentions: the subject line. Write an effective one, and your email will be opened by many. Write a bad one, and not only will your message go unclicked, but your email list might even see some unsubscribes.

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To help you on your quest to create powerful subject lines, here are 6.5 tips that are designed to drive clicks.

1. Lead with the benefits

Readers know what their pain points are; what they want to hear about are solutions. For example, instead of describing the escalating noise of your new alarm clock’s snooze function, try leading with what that noise will do for your readers, like “Never be late for work again.”

2. Quit rambling 

Mobile devices frequently truncate longer subject lines, so to play it safe aim for no more than 50 characters. According to the latest email statistics, more than half of those who open your email (55%) will do so on a mobile device.[1]

3. Explain the actual contents of the email

Don't worry about being tricky. Readers know what they’re going to get when they open the message. If they think they’re getting one thing when they open the email but then find something altogether different, they’re likely to feel misled (and less likely to open your next communication).

4. Lead with action

“Join us for an evening at Fenway Park” is warmer and more alluring than “Evening presentation at Fenway Park.”

5. Speak conversationally

Skip the fancy, multi-syllable words in favor of shorter, more conversational options that make you seem more relatable. Don’t “obfuscate” the reader when “confuse” will do.

6. Ask a question

Put yourself in your readers’ shoes, visualize their daily challenges, and then ask a relevant question. For example, “Is the possibility of your site going down keeping you up at night?” could introduce an email about how your product ensures greater site reliability.


It’s 2016, and we shouldn’t have to say this anymore, so it only deserves half a number. Caps are annoying to read and tend to be perceived as yelling. Plus, your readers will think you’re a real novice.

Give your subject lines time, too. The more thought you put into creating them, the more likely your email message will get in front of your reader and result in the desired action. Even the best-written emails are only as strong as their subject line.

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