HomeAdviceThe old subject header line conundrum

The old subject header line conundrum

Published on

What is the best email subject header line and does it really matter?

This question comes up time and time again and everyone has strong opinions on the subject.

So how important is it?…….It is really important, changing your subject header line will have a massive effect on your open rates.

Many people often spend ages finely crafting the perceived perfect email newsletter and simply plug in a quick ‘November Newsletter’ as a subject header immediately before pushing the send button, this key phrase often determines whether your recipients will ‘click read’ or ‘delete’.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick hit list of key areas to bear in mind when composing the perfect subject header line:

#1 Don’t use too many words

Keep your text brief and punchy, remember that most email browsers will only show the first 30 or 40 characters – even fewer with mobile phone email browsers.  The last thing you want is for your subject header line to be cut short with the dreaded three dots.

#2 Make your first three words count

If your subject header is longer than three words, then make sure that your important words are right at the beginning.  Remember your message must be understood in under a second, to much waffle means an early consignment to the trash box.

#3 Know your market

Use words or phrases that have been market tested and proven to be successful.  For any particular product their will always be a bunch of phrases that push the right buttons with your target audience.  Use test lists to try and discover what these are for your products or services.  Learn what works and unlock the potential of your database.

#4 Ask a question?

The most successful subject header lines will always ask a question, the right question will plant the seed within your reader, it is human nature to want answers and nothing is more frustrating that an unanswered question.  If your header asks a question that is relevant to your target audience and it is answered by prompting the viewer to read on then your open rates will really rocket.

#5 Avoid spam words

Always avoid using phrases that a spammer would use, no-one likes to receive an email that uses phrases that also occur in unsolicited mail from ‘online pharmacists’ and similar.  The last thing you want is for your well thought out email newsletter to be confused with a once in a life time offer for some kind of wonder pill.

#6 Never repeat subject headers

Always make sure that each email you send to the same recipients offers a new reason to read your communication.  If your mailings are all identical then you wont be offering any new reason for your recipients to read your new newsletter.  Without a fresh look each time, you will see open rates drop and unsubscribes increase.


In order to stand out, so many newsletters use caps lock and question marks.  In terms of electronic etiquette this is the ultimate faux-pas.  Your recipients will see this as rude and aggressive, this is commonly regarded as the expressway to the trash can.

#8 Read it, read it and then read it again

Make sure that your header line is grammatically correct and free of typo’s.  It is such as easy mistake to make, but all too common.

#9 Understand local spam laws

Make sure that you are aware of differing spam laws and guidelines for each market that you are mailing.  It is all to easy to fall foul of differing regulations for different countries.  As well is the legal requirement, always go the extra mile and try to understand what is regarded as ‘fair play’.

#10 You can’t have a top 9

Like all great lists and countdowns – you must go to ten.

Email marketing UK

Latest articles

What incentives should you use to get more subscribers?

Attracting more email subscribers involves offering compelling incentives that provide value to your target...

SMS marketing techniques

SMS marketing, or text message marketing, involves sending promotional messages to customers via SMS...

What exactly is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions...

How to write the perfect sales email in 2024

Writing the perfect sales email in 2024 involves a blend of personalization, brevity, value...
- Try Email Blaster for free -spot_img