The Subject is…Subject Lines

by Donna Vassallo, MarketingWorks NY

And how they get your emails opened and read.



I’m sure you’ve all seen articles on how to write a killer email that will inspire your readers to take action—whether that’s buying your products and services, making a charitable donation, signing up for your newsletter, or filling out a form to learn more.

But what happens if your readers don’t even open your email?

Then all that wonderfully written text will be wasted (a topic near and dear to this copywriter’s heart). That’s why subject lines are so important but, sadly, so often overlooked. If the subject line fails to grab the reader’s attention, the email won’t even be opened, let alone read.

So here are 4 simple tips to writing effective subject lines:

  • Make it interesting & relevant
I know, easier said than done. But here’s a secret—simply pretend YOU are your target audience and think about what would inspire YOU to open the email. Obviously, this will vary per company, but be sure you appeal to the needs and “pains” of your readers
  • K.I.S.S. – Keep it short and simple
The subject line should be no longer than 50 characters, including spaces and punctuation. Use short words vs. long words, don’t use ALL CAPS, and avoid twitter-speak and acronyms unless they are easily understood
  • Mention a specific benefit
Free shipping, price discounts, helpful tips, free report…whatever appeals to your target audience. Adding an expiration date (i.e. “Limited time offer…”) also helps
  • Add some mystery
Sometimes it helps to simply pique the reader’s curiosity. Entice your readers to learn more: “Want to save money? We’ll show you how” or “Do you make these marketing mistakes?” But again, make sure the “mystery” resonates with your target audience

Think of subject lines as the outer envelope to your email campaign. A short, catchy subject line will arouse your readers’ interest and get them to at least OPEN your email. It is an important first step to any successful email marketing campaign.

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