Tips for Writing Email Subject Lines

The email subject line is the primary driver for someone to either open your email or simply delete it. So what works with subject lines?

  • Clarity: Tell recipients exactly what they can expect when they open your email. Be specific and clear.
  • Relevance: Incorporate subjects or grades taught so recipients know the message specifically pertains to them. Or incorporate hot topics and buzzwords that are likely top-of-mind with educators.
  • Keep it short: 50 characters or less, including spaces, is ideal. Keep in mind that mobile devices display just 20-30 characters.
  • Front load: Your subject line will likely be truncated for many people so make sure your most compelling and important information is at the beginning of the subject line so that even if it is cut off, readers will know what you’re offering and why they should open your message.

Subject Line Dos:

  • Use “Free” and “Save”: While these words are spam triggers, using them once or twice won’t automatically send your message to the junk folder. Words like “Free” and “Save” are compelling reasons for people to open an email and are worth the spam risk.
  • Ask questions: Questions can engage recipients and prompt people’s curiosity. Think about your audience’s needs and interests and how your content helps them address their biggest concerns and pain points.
  • Be visually interesting: Consider using [brackets] or other {interesting characters} to make your subject line stand out.

Subject Line Cautions:

Emoticons: Those little faces and symbols do grab people’s attention and can put a smile on their faces — but only if they render properly. Many email programs and browsers do not support emoticons so be careful how you use them.

Subject Line Don’ts

  • ALL CAPS: Avoid all caps on every word. Putting one or two words in all caps can be an effective way to make your subject line stand out in an inbox but too many all cap words can be a spam trigger as well as look like you’re shouting in someone’s inbox.
  • Waste space: Your company and/or product name can appear in your “From” line. Don’t waste valuable subject line space restating what is already in your “From” line.
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