How to write an email subject line

Sales Content
September 26, 2022
How to write an email subject line

Let’s face it, the email subject line is often an afterthought to the email itself. And perhaps it should be. But a good email subject line can determine the success of an email campaign. Or perhaps more accurately, a good email subject line won’t make your email campaign successful, but a bad one can make it fail. It’s the first thing your recipient will read. Their reaction to it can determine whether or not they decide to open the email and continue reading. Therefore, without hyperbole, it is one of the most important determinants as to whether your email will get read.

A good email subject line should first and foremost pique the interest of the reader to the extent that they are moved to open the email and start reading. The text should be relevant and should not deceive the reader using “click-bait”. A sensational subject line or one that promises some unreal benefit will quickly lead to the reader deleting your email in anger.

While crafting the perfect email subject line may have limited benefit, it’s important to avoid writing one that’s bad. Here are some guidelines for writing quality email subject lines:

  • Keep it short – A short subject line can pack a stronger punch. It doesn’t need to be the most descriptive or complete text - it needs to get them genuinely interested. Keep in mind that many people are checking their email on their phone. A long email subject line will get cut off on the phone or at best will be hard to read.
  • Personalize it – Just like the email itself, personalization goes a long way in standing out. A simple use of the recipient’s company name using a custom variable {{company}} gives the impression that it was crafted with intention. A reference to something recent about the company can have a similar impact.
  • Make it relevant – Think about why the recipient would be interested in what you have to offer. Naturally they’ll be more likely to open the email if they see it’s something that pertains to them personally or their sector or company.
  • Keep it (somewhat) casual – This one is tricky, but a casual writing style can make you as the sender seem more human. Coming across as human makes you relatable and therefore harder to ignore.
  • Reference their pain – Similar to relevance, if you have a good sense for the pain they likely encounter in their role or as a company, you can craft an email subject line that makes it clear that you get it. It’s quite likely that they’re regularly thinking about their pains. A reference to their pain combines relevance with empathy - a powerful combination.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. By following these guidelines you can give your email a chance at success. If your emails don’t get read, it doesn’t matter how good they are. Focus on making them readable, short and relevant.

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