It doesn’t matter what’s inside your emails if your subject lines are a massive fail. You could be giving away gold-plated iPads in a basket full of golden retriever puppies, but if your subject line doesn’t persuade recipients to open, engage, and act, the message is lost.

Let’s get one thing clear – no one’s reading your subject line. Instead, they’re skimming every subject line in their inbox. You need to establish a connection with the reader, invoke confidence, and create a sense of urgency.

Subject lines serve as your first impression to email recipients. In order to be successful, keep the following ideas in mind when designing your email subject lines:

  1. It’s a glimpse into your email’s message and tone: If your email is lighthearted, such as holiday hour details or a customer newsletter, your subject line can be, too.
    • However, don’t introduce heavy topics, like service updates or monthly bill with a zany and quirky subject line.
    • Your tone has to match your body content – any differences between subject line and email message can be seen as breach of trust between you and your recipients.
  2. It’s a platform to experiment with personalization: Subject line personalization has a heavy focus on the recipients’ first and last names. While this is a great personalization tool to master, try customizing your subject line with the recipients’ city or state.
    • Locations grab readers’ attention and is a great way to publicize an upcoming Lunch and Learn or live event.
    • Whichever personalization option you choose (name, location, company, title) never implement the same one twice in a row – instead rotate so your subject lines don’t seem recycled.
  3. It sparks reader curiosity: Let’s say you send a monthly newsletter to customers. If each email has the same title (January Newsletter, February Newsletter…) your engagement will drop each month.
    • Instead, introduce a topic that will be covered in the newsletter or make reference to an upcoming announcement to spark interest.
    • Make an exclamation, ask a question, create urgency – just not all at the same time!
  4. It tells, not sells: No one ever converted a lead into a customer from subject line alone. You only have 50 characters (best practice wise) to persuade readers to continue learning.
    • Don’t write a subject line so long it induces insomnia or introduce gimmicky, spam tactics such as funky symbols, caps lock, etc.
    • Avoid typical sales words (Free, Limited time, Best deal, etc.), as recipients can tell when subject lines are trying too hard to make up for a poorly constructed email body.

As always, test your subject lines. Each subject line you create should be different than the last. Your email recipients are bombarded with messages all day (and night) long. What is it about your subject line that is going to stand out on a screen with hundreds of others?