Nine rules for your subject line

Continued from our e-mail marketing series and How not to spam


It’s early in the morning, and you just turned on your computer to start reading your e-mail. At the top of your in-box, something reads, “We have the best prices on everything.” Is it spam or is it one of the newsletters you subscribe to? If you’re like most people, the verdict is spam. You hit delete and move on with your life.

Now, you are on the other end of the message, creating content for your valued customers. You think they’ll read your message because it came from you. But, as you probably have guessed, people don’t always look to see who sends an e-mail. They look at the subject line and decide from there what to do next. It’s not unlike newspapers and their need for enticing, revealing headlines.

A subject line in an e-mail is as valuable, if not more, than the content—it’s the first thing most people see when they receive an e-mail. So time has to be spent crafting a catchy line that quickly identifies who you are and what you’re about. That’s the value of working with a company that is an expert in the interactive space. They focus on getting the message right, and capturing your audience’s attention. 

But if you’re constructing subject lines without professional help, here are some guidelines to consider. 

  1. Communicate your purpose – Tell readers what they’ll learn and how they’ll benefit by opening the e-mail.
  2. Lay the offer on the table – If you’re marketing a specific offer, say it up front in your subject line. 
  3. Provide a sense of urgency – If there’s a time limit on your offer, weave it into your subject line.
  4. Use your company name – People are more likely to open an e-mail from someone they know.
  5. Short is good – Edit, edit, edit. Aim for six words or less.
  6. Avoid looking spammy – Limit exclamation marks and unnecessary symbols.
  7. Make it personal – Use a vendor who can personalize e-mail subject lines.
  8. Keep tabs on others – Maintain a log of subject lines that compelled you to open and read e-mails. 
  9. Track your results – Determine which subject lines have the most success with your audience, and work to sharpen new subject lines based on your findings. 

With subject lines covered, my next e-mail marketing post will discuss how to write compelling e-mail content. Knowing how to craft your message and keeping the audience interested is vital and worth its weight in gold. 

–Rick Gramatges

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