How to Write Email Subject Lines that Work

You’ve crafted possibly the best email of your life and there’s just one thing that separates you from feeling that jolt of adrenaline rushing through your veins when hitting the ‘send’ button—that annoying subject line.

The afterthought. The thorn in your side.

As painstaking as it may be to summarize the details and importance of your email in just a few characters, it has to be done. Why? Because your subject line is your meal ticket when your audience is debating whether or not to open your email. And you’re hungry.

Let’s put it this way—64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line.

Here are some tips to write effective, professional and catchy subject lines as part of your email marketing strategy:

Be concise
Try to stay under 50 characters. Really want to challenge yourself? According to research, the sweet spot with the highest open and click-through rates is 30 characters or less. With more people opening emails from their mobile devices than ever before, you need to keep it short, sweet and to-the-point.

Be careful
Don’t use “spammy” words or phrases like free, act now, cheap, win, cash, credit, deal, discounted or buy now. Also, avoid excessive punctuation, using all caps, misleading information, or bad spelling and grammar. Even your subject line doesn’t stand a chance if it winds up in the spam folder—out of sight, out of mind.

Be direct
Offer your readers a preview of what’s inside. We recently sent an email with our infographic below to our email subscribers with the subject line “10 easy ways to increase email open rates” and guess what they found out when they opened the email? Promise something valuable to your readers and deliver.

Be urgent
Pull from the news or provide information that is top of mind for your recipients. If you have a promotion going on or an event quickly approaching, consider the difference in saying “Register for the women’s luncheon” and “5 days left to register for the women’s luncheon!”

Be actionable
People won’t act unless told to do so. Before sending your email out to the world, decide what you want your recipients to do and strongly communicate it. If you want them to RSVP, purchase, download or take action another way, make sure to tell them. We’re busy—but obedient. Just cut to the chase.

Bonus tip! Make sure you’re doing A/B testing to find out what resonates best with your audience and to keep them engaged with tailored messages. They’ll be checking their inbox constantly, just wishing for an email from you because you know them so well.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

About the Author