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5 Tips on Writing A More Effective Subject Line

Email marketing is an essential marketing tool that grows your business. It puts you in direct contact with your ideal market and places your products/services directly in front of them. However, a poorly designed subject line can drastically affect the success of your email marketing campaigns.

The subject line is the very first thing a person will see when an email lands in their inbox. It plays a crucial role in deciding whether or not you open the email or delete it. We have all been in the situation where a questionable looking email full of symbols in the subject line has somehow crept into our inbox. The last thing we want is to click on an email full of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics or annoying emojis!

If your subject line fails to impress, your email marketing campaign is doomed to fail from the start. As there is such a small window of opportunity to impress, we have comprised a list of 5 key tips that you can use to improve your subject lines on your emails.

1. Personalised Subject Lines

An email containing a recipient’s name helps build a relationship with that person. Research has found that personalised emails have higher click through percentages than generic emails. It sounds vein but people love the sound of their own name. This also translates to text and including the name in a subject line is a key way of improving the number of opens and ultimately, clicks onto your website.

Examples include:

  • David, we have an exclusive offer just for you
  • Mr Jones, a new restaurant is coming to your town
  • Only 3 days left on our summer sale! Take a look today, Steven

Personalisation is a key tool in building a successful subject line. It goes an extra step by communicating with people on a personal level, rather than a generic statement that goes to everyone. Depending on the industry or the message you are trying to get across, it may be more appropriate to use a title and surname rather than a forename.

As we have years of experience with this, we can advise on what works best in your industry and advise on the right message.

2. Language and Key Words

The way you word your subject line is crucial. Poor English, grammar and spelling is almost certain to lead to a poor response rate. A good subject line is never too long. Most people scan through their emails quickly. Having a long subject line will lead to it either being ignored or deleted as you fail to capture the recipient’s attention in the short window you have.

There are a number of key words that when utilised properly, can increase the opens an email receives. These are more enticing and powerful words, leading to more opens and clicks. This also helps in distinguishing your email from the others, making it stand out in the recipient’s inbox.

For example, words such as; Introducing, Exclusive, Increase, Successful etc. have shown to be more effective when used in a subject line. Recipients are keen to learn more and so they open the email to read on. The email is displayed in a positive manner, having the positive psychological effect on the recipient.

3. Asking a question

A key way to engage with your ideal market is through asking questions. When adopting this principle to an email, the recipient will read the question in their head and automatically answer it. This means they are more engaged and more likely to open your email as a result.

This is especially true when the question you ask is relevant to the industry you are broadcasting to. For example, if you are targeting finance managers, asking a question about saving money for the business will lead them to think about what they currently have in place and whether it can be improved.

The email content itself must always be related to the question posed in the subject line. If it is completely irrelevant, people will feel they have been tricked into opening and will most likely delete the email at that point.

4. Creating a sense of urgency

Subject lines that include an element of urgency encourage the recipient to act quickly. Research has found that urgency leads to higher open and click through rates.

If you are having a sale, try a subject line such as “Hurry! Sale ending this week” or ‘Don’t miss out before it’s too late’. With the possibility of missing out on lower prices or the business running out of stock, recipients act faster so there is less risk of an email sitting around being forgotten about.

5. Beware of symbols and caps

A bad habit that spam emails have is the tendency to overuse exclamation points and capitalise all words in the subject line. Wording such as “ACT NOW!!!” is annoying and quite frankly, unprofessional. As a result, emails with subjects like this are often ignored and immediately deleted. It is a bad practice to capitalise a subject line as it comes across as if you are shouting at the recipient.

This comes back to what we mention above regarding symbols and emojis. The right message is not conveyed and more often than not, subject lines such as these score higher on spam testing software. This means the email is more likely to land in an junk box or not get through at all. A large percentage of the target market won’t see the email if it lands in a junk box.


Overall, these are 5 tips that will help you improve the quality of your subject lines, ultimately leading to better performing email campaigns. The goal is to create a unique, intriguing subject line that delivers what it promises. This will lead to higher engagement and more traffic coming through to your website. As the subject line is the very first thing a person will see, it is one of the most important weapons in your arsenal.

Adopting a combination of all 5 tips in the same subject line will not necessarily work. Different subject lines and tactics work for different industries and products and so it depends on what you are trying to promote and to whom.

At Impact Marketing, we specialise in high quality email campaigns. For years we have been providing services for both the business to business and business to consumer sectors. Our knowledge and experience means that we can build an email for you that lands directly in the inboxes of your ideal target market. We are able to design an email from scratch if need be or work with one provided by you.

Get in touch today and a member of the team will be happy to discuss your email marketing requirements with you.

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