Email Subject Lines Best Practices – Your Ultimate Checklist
Email subject lines are the window into your offering. They can determine the success or failure of your email marketing campaign and can be the catalyst for a mountain of enquiries or a molehill of silence.
Most people will determine whether your email is worthy of the coveted open based soley on the email subject line. A great email subject line can make or break you and its worthwhile taking your time to craft the perfect prose when you’re trying to capture an audience thats constantly bombarded with messaging.
Want to create and send emails that get opened? Start here with our 10 tips for creating successful and engaging email subject lines.
Email subject lines best practices
1. Keep your email subject lines short and sweet
7 words. Thats the ultimate number of words to use in your email subject lines to get people to click your email!
Keep it short and sweet and to the point. You’ll notice above that after 7 words, open rates and click rates start to diminish.
Also, think about how people receive your emails? Do most of your customers or leads read your emails on a mobile device? Up to 46% of emails are open on a mobile device! That’s definitely a stat to take notice of!
Remember that a mobile device will cut off a subject header- so make sure you have your main message in those first few words.
2. Avoid clickbait words that’ll get your email caught in spam
It’s so tempting to use catchy titles and punny, pithy writing when given the chance. But don’t get caught in someone’s spam filter just because you were trying to be too clever!
Around 14% of emails get caught up in spam filters. You want to be avoiding certain words if you want to increase your chance of actually hitting the right folder in someone’s inbox, let alone having them open you email.
Avoid catch, pithy or punny buzzwords and over-promising claims such as “act now” or “Get in quick”.
Pushy or manipulative keywords will have your email headed for the bin.
Some of the worst offenders to exclude are:
- Buy now
- Act fast
- Be in quick
- Finishing soon
- Limited time
- Exclusive deal
- Increase sales
- Obligation free
You want to be smart and fun, but never spammy. Make sure you’re not making claims that atre far fetched and stick to making your brand stand out for the right reasons.
Check out this great list of 475 spam trigger words by Automational for a deep dive into what to avoid.
3. Numbers are your best friend
Using numbers in your subject liens can create authority, capture attention fast and be easily browsed by your reader.
Emails with numbers in the subject line tend to have higher open rates than those that do not include a number.
Plus, you’re appealing to a persons base sense of logic! Our brains love numbers and lsits nad when we see a number is a sea of text we tend to zone into it. A sure fire way to get noticed in an ocean of inbox copy!
Whenever we’re scanning the environment for nothing in particular, our visual system is arrested by the things that don’t fit—features that suddenly change or somehow stand out from the background.The New Yorker
4. Use a personal sender email name
You want to make sure your email has the absolute best possible chance of being opened!
Choosing an email address that is personal, like Sarah@yourcompany is far more likely to be opened than sending an email from hello@ or info@ … Your email is also way less likely to go to their promotions or spam folder and get lost in the email quagmire.
5. Test your email subject lines
This ones a biggy for me and I do it every single time! I use ConvertKit for all my emails and they have a handy AB testing feature that allows me to send out 30% (15% for each subject header test) of my emails first with a split test on the subject header. Testing your subject line leads to better ROI. It’s a vital step towards you ramping up success.
The cool thing is- this is all automated. Once the AB test is over (4 hours), ConvertKit then automatically sends the remainder of the emails out to the winning subject line. The winner is the subject line that has the highest open rate.
Thats pretty cool, right.
Open rates are not the be all and end all of email success. I actually prefer to go by click rate as my measure of success. But, getting people to actually open the email is the first step!
6. Personalise your message by segmenting your audience
You can also personalize your email by segmenting your audience down into meaningful chunks.
Segmenting simply means that you capture info form your audience that enables you to put them into groups that are meaningful. For example, you might tag certain audience members with a country specific tag, or a city. Or, you might tag them with the relevant form that they signed up to your list with.
You can easily segment and tag your lists using an email marketing platform like ConvertKit, which is my preferred option, and they have a free plan option for beginners ❤️
Did they sign up via your general subscribe form? Or, did you capture their email via a very topic specific niche product offer? Tag them accordingly, then personalise each segments email subject line to that specific audience.
So, now your Christmas email – for example… might go to various segments depending on the season in that particular region.
You don’t want to be sending an email with “let it snow ❄️” in the header text, when they are having a Xmas BBQ on the beach ⛱!
7. Use questions to your advantage
It’s human nature to want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. We like to feel normal… or special… or that people get us. We like to feel part of the pack.
When you use a question in your email subject line you’re often drawing the reader into a sense of camaraderie. You’re telling them.. “hey, I get you”… or you’re signalling to them that they are not alone.
Questions can also create dissatisfaction….
Are you making this simple mistake in your emails?
The reader may think… am I??? what is it??
Are you among the top 10%?
Your audience may question… Perhaps I am? or … How can I get there?
8. Use familiar, conversational language
Talk to your customers and leads like they are friends. I never open emails that sound selly or pushy. If the tone and messaging in the header and pre header text is inviting and warm Im far more likely to open- and ultimately click on- their email content.
In my day job, I’m forever correcting copy that doesn’t use familiar and conversational language. For instance. I’m should be used, over I am. Or, You’ve over You have.
An overly formal tone sounds unfamiliar and sterile. You want to make sure you’re warm and friendly with your audience. But in line with your brand tone.
Write like you’re speaking! Use your personality, be yourself, be warm….and your audience will thank you by opening that email.
9. Be precise in your messaging
Tell people what it is that you are giving them.
What value is in it for them to open your email. Be precise!
People want to know why you are popping into their inbox. Do you have an offer? If so, what exactly is it?
Do you have tips and tricks to offer them value? Tell them the outcome of that advice.
Do you want to update them on a new product or a new feature? Lay out what’s in it for them!
If you can somehow help them increase their revenue, enjoy their life more, eat better, feel fitter, get a job… whatever your niche is… outline in your header what they will gain.
Don’t make false promises or steer people wrong when it comes to your claims.
Do give them a sense of what they will gain.
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10. Use emojis smartly in subject lines
Who doesn’t love a good emoji?
Along with the use of numbers in your subject line, emojis can help you stand out and create a sense of fun. The use of some emojis in the subject line can also actually help boost your read rate.
Use only one or two per email subject line. Too many and you’ll look kinda desperate, plus your email may get caught up in the spam filter.
Be mindful of the message your emoji sends:
A ☁️ is cute and probably not going to offend anyone.
A 🍆 however, not so cute.
Using emojis in your email subject line can increase your open rate by a whopping 29%. But tread carefully! Keep your brand and messaging in mind. And pick wisely.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach your ideal audience with offers, information and education about your brand and business. But you want to make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance of getting that email actually opened!
Take 5 minutes to run through this checklist before you hit send and enjoy the benefits an improved ROI.
18 thoughts on “Email Subject Lines Best Practices – Your Ultimate Checklist”
Awesome tips! I know I really need to work on my email marketing so I will take these tips on board
Email marketing is always the last thing on everyones list! But it’s so easy and so powerful!
This is really straightforward excellent advice! Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome Barbara!
I’ve just started my email list and I’ve been needing some inspo for my subject lines this guide has been beyond helpful. Thank you
Oh yay Leena! so pleased it was helpful for you! There’s just so many little things for us all to remember when running our blogs right! ANd email marketing often gets put on auto or not at alL!
Thoroughly fascinating! The things we don’t even think about until someone calls our attention to it. I’m going to use this checklist often I think, thank you!
So many little things to remember that can level us up right!
great reminder for all
Thanks for the suggestions! I am definitely going to keep them in mind
Thank you so much for sharing this, very helpful! I am about to create my first newsletter, so will use all your tips right away 😉
I always need more ideas on email subject lines.
I learned a lot from this post. Just what I needed. Thanks a lot.
Such amazing tips! Definitely going to be using these. Pinning so I can go back and reference. Thank you so much for sharing!!
These are fantastic tips, I have bookmarked your page, thank you so much for detailing this information.
My pleasure Jeanine!