The Problem With Subject Lines

December 1st 2015       Sally Ormond       copywriting, email, Email marketing, subject lines

subject lines

The subject line for your email marketing campaign is probably the shortest thing you’ll have to write, but it is also the most important.

It’s hard enough coming up with killer content for the email itself, but trying to find something succinct and attention grabbing can be a real nightmare.

Let’s face it the simple truth is if your subject line doesn’t grab the reader’s interest straightaway, your email won’t get read. Bummer.

At this point I would love to provide you with a simple template that will guarantee powerful subject lines every time, but I can’t. However, what I can do is outline some tips that will give you the best chance possible.

Forget your name

A lot of companies will start their subject line with their name. Don’t. You’re wasting your time. The recipient will know it’s from you by the “from” label.

Create something that teases them into opening your email, but make sure your subject line accurately reflects the content of your email. If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of falling foul of CAN-SPAM compliancy.


The vast majority of people view their emails on their phones, so write your subject line with that in mind.

Long and short subject lines work, but for mobile I’d recommend being as succinct as possible.

Use urgency sparingly

A tactic often used by companies is using terms such as “last chance” in their subject line to get recipients to open their emails. For B2C companies that will probably work, but for the B2B crowd, it’s unlikely.

Be different

Depending on your industry and your audience, why not try something a bit edgier than normal? Be cheeky, topical, or a bit vague anything else that springs to mind. The best way to work out whether this works for your or not is to…

Run A/B tests

The best way to discover what works best for your audience is to run a split test. Using different subject lines in this way will help you identify what type of thing generates the most opens.

Getting your subject line right is difficult. One month you might hit it right, the next you could be way off the mark. The main thing is that you identify what is working and repeat and enhance.

Tags: copywriting, email, Email marketing, subject lines
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