Top 7 Best Practices for Email Subject Lines


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How would you define a successful email? In most people’s books, this highly depends on specific metrics like the number of opens, clicks, and conversions. However, one of the best determinants of these metrics is your email subject line. 

A 2021 study found that 64% of consumers decide to open emails based on the quality of their subject line. In another 2020 study, it was found that 33% of email recipients open emails just because the subject line catches their attention.

Getting creative with your subject line will never go out of style. You could write the perfect email copy but if the subject is not compelling enough, only a tiny percentage gets to see the gem embedded within.

If you have ever wondered what to do to encourage email open rates, then you are at the right place. In this article, we will highlight 7 best practices for email subject lines. 

7 Best Practices for Email Subject Lines

1. Know What makes a Good Email Subject Line

When writing your email subject, there are a few things you must consider. It shouldn’t just be a random line that you feel makes sense. It must spark something in the recipient’s mind. Here are some quick questions to answer:

  • Does it spark curiosity?
  • Does it sound urgent and important?
  • Does it showcase relevance and timeliness?
  • Is it personalized – catered to the recipient?

These points might seem basic but they go a long way in determining what a good subject line is. 

2. Write the Subject Line

As much as we emphasize writing a subject line, a lot of people tend to forget about it. Never make this mistake! Leaving your subject line Untitled can either leave your email unread or it ends up in the spam box. 

More importantly, you have a brand and a reputation to protect. So, go ahead and write that subject line first. You can eventually tweak it before you hit the send button but you need to have something there. 

Modifying the subject line becomes easier when you already have a rough draft to work with. Sometimes, it’s one word, and other times, it could be a phrase or a sentence. 

3. Keep it Short

The average inbox won’t reveal more than 60 characters of your email subject line and a mobile phone reveals only about half of that. Over 41% of emails are opened on mobile devices, so you should work with about 30 characters to reach a wider audience. 

email subject lines statistics from HubSpot
Source: HubSpot

If your subject is too long, chances are that your recipient won’t see the whole thing. This defeats the purpose of convincing them to open the email with the subject. 

If you have a long subject and struggle to keep it short, consider rephrasing it. Take out unnecessary filler words and bank on your keywords to do the magic. Get creative; have a list of options and choose the most appealing one. 

4. Add personalization

Sometimes, the difference between two perfectly written emails is in how well they are personalized for the recipient. And although personalization is beyond [First Name], using this tag alone can make a huge difference. 

Email subject line personalization
Source: NewOldStamp

Following reports from Marketing Dive, it is found that personalized email subject lines can increase your open rate by 50%. On the other hand, non-personalized subject lines had open rates of 14.1% compared to 21.2% for emails personalized with names.

So, the next time you try to write a catchy subject, consider inserting the recipient’s name. Don’t force it but only insert it in a subject line that you’re sure it fits organically into.

5. Use a Sender’s Name

The subject line is beyond the subject itself and includes everything else surrounding it. When a recipient gets your email, they see the subject line, the sender’s name, and a preview. 

Never use a “no-reply” email for a newsletter, if you intend to gain engagement and increase conversions. Use a functional email that anyone can respond to and be deliberate about the Sender’s name. 

Preferably, use a human name that anyone can relate with. Rather than sending it directly from your company, you could have [Name] from [Company] as shown in the example below. 

email sender's name
Source: SendInBlue

Using a sender’s name further encourages recipients to open their emails because they have an idea who is sending them. In the long run, if you are consistent with the name, they will get familiar with it and probably look forward to your next email.

6. Segment Your List

As you put effort into your email subject lines, it’s important to note that some emails aren’t meant for the same audience. If you have a huge email list, chances are that no matter how captivating the subject line is, some people on this list are simply not interested. 

This is why email segmentation is important, as it helps you segregate your list and personalize your email content. Every email sent to each segment will be tailored to them and this increases their chances of opening the email. 

7. Test Your Subject Lines

While the tips shared here have been found helpful on a global scale, your company or brand still has its specific needs. A/B and Multivariate tests are encouraged, as they show you how the tiniest differences can impact the results you get. 

If you have a list of options to choose from when writing your email subject line, you can perform the A/B test and modify the wording based on your results. 

This test can sometimes seem tricky but it’s not so difficult. HubSpot explains in detail how to A/B test your marketing email and this can be a great place to start. 

Bottom Line

Getting your email subject lines right is important and this article already highlights the 7 best practices to guide you. If you are just starting and need a template to work with for your email marketing strategy, fill out the form below. 

If you also need to talk to one of the experts in our marketing team, feel free to contact us and we’ll attend to you.

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