5 Easy Tips to Make Your Subject Lines Stand Out in a Crowded Inbox


Crafting email subject lines can be a trying experience. You’ve tested like crazy, and you’ve made sure to personalize your emails, but you’re still not getting the open rates that you were hoping for.

The truth is that your email marketing campaigns live and die by the quality of the subject line. Some loyal customers will open anything that you send, but the rest you might lose by the second word.

So how do you get more eyeballs on your emails? Let’s go over a few quick tips that should get you more clicks!

Put the offer/information up front

The further back in the subject line your offer is, the less chance it has of being read. Position is everything and subject lines on mobile devices get cut even shorter than their desktop counterparts.

So if you’re offering free shipping on your product for a week, make sure that that the words “free shipping” appear early in the subject line. Promo codes can wait for the body of your email.

Keep your subject line short

You probably know this one already. Nobody is going to read a brilliant 20 word-long subject line where you rhyme and make an allusion to a popular piece of fiction.

What will they read? Short 8-10 word lines that give them the information they need to know.

Give it a sense of urgency

Along with the offer, you want to make sure that your customers know that this deal isn’t going to last forever. Nothing spurs people to action like the thought of missing something. Time restraints make people take action right now instead of getting to it later.

Having a longer sale? Advertising a month or week-long sale might not sound as urgent, but your follow up emails certainly will!

Make it personal

You need to dig deeper into your customer data to determine the different kinds of email subscribers that you have. Then break down your email marketing into those different groups.

If you sell social media marketing solutions to clients, the needs of a small business are going to be different than those of a large brand. So tailor your subject lines to those particular individuals. Small business owners would be delighted to read “Let us handle your social media while you focus on your business” while large brands would be more interested in “Our software lets you monitor and reply to your fans in no time!”

Triple check your spelling and grammar

Easiest way to ensure your potential customers don’t open your email? By misspelling words or using incorrect grammar. Your and you’re can be easy to switch when you’re working quickly. We’ve all used the wrong they’re, their, or there.

But when clients read the wrong word or the wrong spelling, that looks like you don’t have the time or interest to check the work you present to the world. And if you’re not going to take an interest in your own company, why would your email recipients?

Bonus tip: Be clever

Asking a clever question, adding a graphic, or mirroring presidential email marketing campaigns can have varying degrees of success. But the need to be clever should never overshadow any of these other tips.

Consumers are getting savvier about their emails and want to clean out their inbox as quickly as possible. Make sure you test your emails, but a short, to-the-point subject line can outshine even the cleverest questions.

Which would you click: “Free shipping on all apparel– this weekend only!” or “Don’t you fancy a new sweater?”

Do you use any of these tips in your email marketing campaigns? Any you’d like to share?


Mandy Kilinskis is a Content Developer for Quality Logo Products, a longtime WhatCounts client. When she’s not writing content for their homepage or promo blog, she’s helping craft subject lines for their email marketing. Feel free to say hi to her on Twitter or Google+!

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