Capture Your Email Audience: Subject Line Best Practices

Tonya Gordon
Jul. 17, 2015 by Tonya Gordon

150x150_SubjectLineBP2The first thing a subscriber sees from you is the Subject line. It is imperative that a subject line catches the attention of your subscriber and compels them to open your message. Below are seven email subject line best practices to keep in mind when you are trying to capture your audience’s attention.

  1. STAY AWAY FROM SPAMMY WORDS/PHRASES. If you use words like Free, Act Now, Limited time offer and overuse special characters like !!!, $$$ and …! Your message will not even make it to the inbox for your audience to see.
  2. BE CARFUL TO AVOID SPELLING ERRORS OR ALL CAPS. Misspelled words can often look like you are avoiding spam filters for “spammy” words and will be caught anyway.
  3. USE A SUBJECT LINE REFERRING TO THE MOST INTERESTING SUBJECT IN YOUR MESSAGE. If your email has multiple subjects, first run subject line tests with a subject line for each of the different subjects in your email. Once you determine what subject garners the most interest to a sampling of your list you can use that Subject Line on the remainder.
  4. SUBJECT LINE LENGTHS DO MATTER. Often the shorter the subject line the more opens you get. However, the opposite tends to be true with Clicks. This is another subject line test you may want to run to see how your subscribers will respond. For example, B2B emails do better with 20 words (less than 80 characters), whereas, B2C do better with 6-10 words (less than 50 characters).
  5. PERSONALIZATION IS EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE. However, rather than using first name, you may consider using the region or the area they are in. Seeing the City/County name often catches their attention creating a feeling of importance.
  6. BRAND YOUR MESSAGES. Create a subject line that will tell the reader who you are as well as what to expect when they open the message. For example, always using the words {Your Brand} Bulletin and then what subject they will encounter when they open. Another option would be to use the words {Your Brand} Bulletin as the friendly From Name leaving the subject line to tell them what subject they will encounter when they open.
  7. TEST TEST TEST!!! The best way to know what works for you and your subscribers is to test everything! First, send your messages through spam filter tests. There are quite a few Subject Line/Content Testers available. For example, Email on Acid, Litmus, 250ok and Return Path are great tools for testing your email subject lines.
    Finally, pull out a small sampling and perform an A/B test. Create two or more subject lines and determine a winner using the winner for the bulk of your send. Testing against filters, as well as a sampling of your subscribers, will help you get the most out of each send.

Want to learn more email best practices? You might like:

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