You’ve got mail

We’ve come a long way since carrier pigeons.

290 billion emails are sent each day and email marketing is big business. With easy access to open, click through and conversion rates, it’s one of the most measurable channels. But one thing is very often overlooked… Subject lines.

They can make or break your email campaign. Get your first opportunity to speak wrong and you’ll be heading straight for the trash folder, meaning all the nice stuff that you did spend time on is wasted.

The world’s greatest email content is worthless if it’s never opened. So, here are our top tips for creating subject lines that deliver.

Subject lines aren’t just an intro to your content, they’re billboards in disguise. And just like billboards, you’ve got to make an impact fast.

That’s why you should stick to the 40-character sweet spot. 46% of email opens take place on mobile, meaning a long subject line could be cut off before you get to your point.

And don’t forget about their sidekick either, the preheader. It will appear beside your subject line and at the very top of your email, giving you the opportunity to add an additional message.

The number of words isn’t the only thing you need consider. The type of words you use matter too. Watch out for spam filter triggers like ‘guaranteed’ and ‘instant’. Try some of these power words instead.

Forget about writing names on coffee cups. By paying a visit to individual inboxes, email gives you the power to get up close and very personal.



Including a first name in your subject line immediately adds the human touch. But remember to leave it until the end as long names can cause your main message to drop.

It doesn’t end there. Personalisation can go well beyond a first name. Take advantage of customer behaviour and insights like geolocation or past purchases to make each experience bespoke.

Whether it’s a well-timed sales message arriving in their inbox at the right point in the customer journey or a mention of their nearest physical store, the personal touch can help you humanise your brand, make a connection and be that extra push you need to get them to click open.

It’s all about making people feel special. So, take that customer data and make it work for you.

Don’t be afraid to use emojis, they stand out, they make your message more expressive and can help save some of those precious text characters.

There’s a library of options to add that extra something to your subject lines. But not all emojis will appear properly on different mobile devices and email clients render differently. Just make sure they’re not too obscure or you’ll be dishing out a fair few of these ▢.

We’re not saying to throw one in every time, only when appropriate and when they add to the message. And if you’re looking for the emoji with the highest read rate in subject lines, it’s 💩. Probably best to avoid that one unless it relates to your content.

We’re busy people. That’s why we choose the quickest path to reading emails and clearing out our inboxes.

So, how do we grab attention? There’s two easy ways to do it, by adding mystery or being clever.

Curiosity is a valuable tool. Pique the recipient’s natural nosiness with a leading sentence. Or use the allure of FOMO to make what you have to say too hard to resist.

A catchy subject line can also help your email stand out among its many dull counterparts.
Think about how your email will benefit your recipients, what makes them tick, use questions and add a dash of humour to entice them into the main event.

With these tips in hand, you’re on the way to finding your email mo-jo. It’s something that takes time, especially as you find your style and what works best for your audience.

The most important thing is to test your subject lines. 47% of marketers say they test different email subject lines to optimise performance. Try out some options and take note of what’s performing best. Email is your chance to use real data, not your gut.

Want to chat about email? We respond to all sorts of subject lines. So, make it creative and get in touch.

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