Writing an Effective Subject Line

January 3, 2012

When you're writing an email subject line, there are a few tricks you can try to have your email commanding your reader's attention.

Identify yourself

Recipients are more likely to open an email from a sender they recognize. Including your name in your subject line (or an abbreviated version) is one way to be seen in a crowded inbox. Display your agency name at the beginning of the subject line: ITC Agency: Your Online Quote for the most impact.

Be brief and to the point

Most email clients will cut subject lines off at 50 characters ("characters" include spaces). Compose a few engaging words and keep it under 50 characters so people see the full subject line. There are some schools of thought that suggest you can get the best results by reducing your email subject lines down to 35 characters.

Steer clear of spammer techniques

Your customers will keep an eye out for spam in their inbox to prevent identity theft and threats to their computer. Mimicking common techniques that spammers load their subject lines with is the fastest way to be deleted or end up in your recipient's junk box. Being flagged as spam could also have your emails blocked by a recipient's email client.

Spammer favorites to steer clear of:

  • Using ALL CAPS or RaNdOm CaPs.
  • Hard selling in the subject line will raise suspicions instead of creating interest.
  • !!! -- Exclamation points are easy to abuse and it's important to stay away from them in your subject lines.
  • Using words like "free", "save", "win", "call now" and "toll-free". Leave them out of your subject lines if at all possible.

Practice makes perfect

You won't come up with the right formula on the first try. Analyze your email marketing campaign open rates to see which subject lines earned the most opens. Timing is also essential when it comes to how an email subject line is received. Sending an email with the subject of "Merry Christmas" on January 4th won't get much traffic.

By keeping a close eye on open rates and having relevant content, you should hit the right combination that puts you ahead of the competition.

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