4 must-know tips on writing the perfect email subject line (and why it’s important)


Imagine your email content is a brownie.


With a gooey, soft centre and extra chocolate chips. Mmm. Irresistible, right? But what if your readers don’t know that the brownie is there? What if their eyes miss your aforementioned godlike brownie to peruse a strawberry tart or cheesecake instead? Tragic, right?

Now, imagine your email subject line is the sweet, chocolate-y smell that wafts through the air once you’ve heated your brownie up. There’s no missing it now. Mouths will salivate. Heads will turn. People will be sure to notice it – and once they have, it’ll be hard to resist taking a bite.


That’s why – when you’ve written a great email – you need a great email subject line, to boot.


Without a compelling hook (the “smell”) to compel your readers to engage with you, they’ll never get to your content (the sweet, sticky heart of the brownie). A brilliantly-written subject line is paramount to your email’s success, then – here’s our tips on how to make yours shine.


1. Use the right amount of words


Your email subject line is not the place to practice your Dickensian writing. In fact, it should be no longer than six to ten words, according to a study reported by Inc. The study, which sampled over 260 million emails from across 540 campaigns, says that email subject lines with that amount of words generated a 21% percent open rate, whereas those with less words were opened only 16% of the time and those with more, 14%.


Write an email subject line


2. Lean on the power of “FOMO”


FOMO. The name of our first studio album, and also the acronym for “Fear of Missing Out”. This is a valuable tool to lean on when you want to inspire clicks. You should make your readers feel that, if they’re not opening your email, they’re losing an opportunity – whether that’s in the form of an offer, learning something new or feeling enriched emotionally. Show them that there’s something in it for them if they read your content… and make them feel as though they’ll regret it if they don’t (in the most non-threatening way possible).

There are a couple of ways you can inject a little FOMO into your subject line:


2a. Make it “urgent”

Your email is something that needs to be read now. One of the most effective ways to establish this is by adding a time sensitive factor to your subject line, using phrases such as “ends in 24 hours” or “last chance” (obviously most persuasive when describing an offer or deals).

When done well, a sense of urgency will compel your readers to engage with you. However, make sure you use this kind of language sparingly, and only when relevant. If you start dressing up non-urgent emails as urgent all the time, you’re more likely to lose subscribers than gain them.




2b. Give ‘em something for their trouble

If you’re a brand, deals, offers and discounts are likely to be your audience’s sweet spot. Just like shoppers flock into a store that has huge “SALE” signs in the window, your subscribers are likely to click on your email if it promises a bargain in the subject line. And it doesn’t even have to be too much. According to a study by Adestra, which analysed over 2.2 billion emails, those with subject lines that included the phrase “free delivery” garnered the most clicks. Top stuff.


Subject line


2c. Curiouser and curiouser…

While we’d most often opt for a clear message in your email subject line, sometimes it can be fun (and effective) to use more evasive language. This can pique your readers’ interest and compel them to click on your email so as to find out more about whatever your subject line is alluding to, wanting “in” on the mystery.



3. Aaaaanddd… ACTION!


When you only have a split second to grab your audience’s attention, it’s important to be clear (unless you’re being enigmatic, as just discussed in 2c). Using concise and compelling language is your number one way to do this – though beginning your subject line with an action verb helps, too.

A study by Smart Insights, which sampled over 700 million emails, cites that “introducing”, “celebrate” and “buy” were the three top performing subject line keywords. We’d guess that this is because they encouraged readers to envision themselves doing something beyond reading your content – and if your reader can see a real world benefit from engaging with you, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to say.


How to write the perfect email subject line


4. Throw in an emoji or two (if it’s appropriate)


According to a report cited in a Medium article, emojis (when used well) result in a 29% increase in your email’s open rate and a 28% increase in its click through rate – even better if you use the “correct” emoji on national holidays. On Valentine’s Day, those who used the lips emoji in their subject lines increased their open rate by a further 4%, while on St Patrick’s Day those who used the Irish flag emoji by 6%.

While this is good news, you must ensure you’re using emojis the “right” way if you want your email to be successful. Not all audiences are fans, and if it doesn’t fit the tone of your brand, you could distance them. It’s also important to remember that an emoji doesn’t detract from the quality of your subject line. If it’s written poorly, the best an emoji will do is decorate it.



A final note


As with everything digital marketing-related, you need to test things for yourself to find out what works for your brand. Though – as well with everything digital marketing-related – you don’t have to do it alone. At Jammy Bear, we can help you craft the perfect email (and indeed, the perfect subject line) and roll out a variety of tests to find out what email practices work best for you. That brownie ain’t going to eat itself, after all. Give us a bell today to find out more!

Posted By

Laura Demaude