January 13, 2012

8 Rules to Writing the Perfect Email Subject Line


It is of utmost importance to start every story with a hook that reels your reader in and makes them unable to stop reading. This goes for all types of stories; sci-fi, romance, and yes, even emails. The subject line of an email is parallel to the first paragraph of a news article; it must catch your reader's eye and entice them to read more, all in fewer than 50 characters. It is a sad but true fact that many people read the subject line of an email to decide whether they open it or delete it. Because so much rides on your email subject line, here are 8 rules to aid you in crafting the perfect one.

1. Read the newspaper

News articles often start with very effective "subject lines," highlighting the articles most important points in a limited space. Your subject line should incorporate what your reader can expect from your email, why it's important for them to read on, and what you want them to do. Emulating how news stories use headlines can be a good place to start.

2. Know your overall objective

What is the end goal of your email? This answer should guide the formation of your subject line. Consider writing your subject line first and using it to guide your email, keeping you from straying off point.

3. Use the "From" line

Research has shown that readers often look at the "from" line first when deciding whether or not to open an email. If the "from" line hosts your company's name you will not have to repeat it in the subject line, thus, freeing up space.

4. Keep key information front and center

It is important to list the most significant information first. The subject line is your opportunity to compel the recipient to open your mailing. If you know what would make your readers care about opening your email, put it into a 50 characters or less subject sentence.

5. Personalize

Personalization will secure reader interest. Using the recipient's first name, interests or preferences can accomplish this.

6. Don't be "spammy"

Spam is annoying to everyone and the last thing you want your emails characterized as. To avoid this do not write in all caps, use excessive punctuations, or words such as "free," "make millions," "only 24 hours left..." etc. There is a fine line between catchy and "spammy".

7. Make sure you are reflecting the email content

Do not stretch the truth or make promises in an email subject line that do not hold up in the rest of the email. Remember, it is the teaser to the email body and must express only what can be found upon opening. You don't want your readers to distrust you, after all.

8. Test it!

Constantly testing and reworking your email subject lines is the most sure-fire way to ensure its success. Testing gives you better data, and thus, a better campaign result.

The subject line of your email must focus on the needs of your audience and connect it to the purpose of your email. Remember to stay relevant and on topic, while also being creative, practical, and believable.