How to Write Great Email Subject Lines

Published Wednesday, April 28, 2010 9:14 AM

Ensure Your Subject Lines Get Attention

One of the hallmarks of our ever-connected, 24-7-365 world is the overloaded email inbox. This ReadWriteWeb post on information overload nicely captures the point by citing these statistics:

  • Average employee receives 350 messages per week
  • Average executive receives over 300 messages per day
  • Employees spend about 20 hours per week managing email

With all the messages competing for the attention and time of our customers, prospects and coworkers, we need to think about ways to make our emails stand out as important, useful and relevant to the recipients.

One key way is to write great email subject lines.

According to the experts at the email marketing service provider Mail Chimp, the best email subject lines are short, descriptive and give the reader a reason to further explore your message. The entire subject line should be 50 words or less and, unless you want to trigger the spam filter or chill open rates, those words should not include:

  • Free
  • Help
  • Percent off
  • Reminder

To give you some context for these rules, you can refer to this study of subject lines with the best and worst open rates.

According to this post from the getting attention! blog, readers also respond well to subject lines that:

  • Ask a question
  • Offer a teaser
  • Convey the facts
  • Include the word "you"

Similarly, a post from copyblogger shares that readers respond to subject lines containing emotional triggers "because they speak to underlying desires and fears that nearly all of us have."

For a quick tutorial on two Google tools that can help you create and pick the best subject lines for your next email campaign, check out this post from the blue sky factory blog.

Do you have any tips on writing great email subject lines? Share them in the comments area here or at our Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers


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