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How to write a great Subject line

Great Subject lines capture the attention of your recipients and encourage them to open and read your email. They are engaging, informative, and set the stage for the benefit the recipient will gain by taking the time to read your content . . . all in fifty characters.

Writing a great Subject line is no small challenge. You only have a few words to make it compelling, urgent, and specific, without sounding overly “salesy” or misleading your readers. Here are some tips that will help you think about the types of Subject lines that get great results.

  1. Keep it short and sweet. Do your best to keep your Subject lines under fifty characters, including spaces, as most email clients display fifty characters or less. A study done by email monitoring company Return Path showed that Subject lines with forty-nine or fewer characters had open rates 12.5 % higher than for those with fifty or more. And that click-through rates for Subject lines with forty-nine or fewer characters were 75 % higher than for those with fifty or more. Want to have better open and click-through rates? Keep it short and sweet!
  2. Be specific. A vague Subject line is a waste of real estate. A great example of this is monthly newsletters with Subject lines such as “May Newsletter.” This tells the receiver nothing about what he will find when he opens the email and gives them very little reason to do so. A better approach for a newsletter like this is, “May Gardening: Five Tips.”3. Write it last. Many email marketing services (including Constant Contact) prompt you to write your Subject line first, as you are building your email. I encourage you to come back to it when you are done with your email content. It’s important to determine all the elements of your email first and then look for the most compelling topic to highlight in the Subject line. When you are done with the body of your email, read it over and pick the “nugget” that will entice your readers to learn more by opening.
  3. Take some time. Don’t just dash off your Subject lines. Considering how important they are, take some time to think about them and write several before choosing which one to use. Once you have a few Subject lines you like, run them by a friend or colleague and see which she thinks is most compelling.
  4. Test it! When you have two strong, yet different, Subject lines, test them. Split your list in half and use a different Subject line for each group. After a number of tests like this, you will have a very good idea of what works for those on your list. And as always, the better you know your audience, the more effectively you can communicate with them. To write a great Subject line, start with what is unique about the content contained within your message. What is the reader going to get out of reading your content? Craft your Subject line around that point. Here are several examples of subject lines that tell you what you are going to get:
  • Three tips that will straighten your slice Food donations needed for local families
  • This weekend’s openings—25% off
  • How to dress for an interview

Each of these Subject lines provides the recipient with the ability to immediately determine what the benefit is for them if he opens the communication.