First impressions matter, and yes, love at first sight does exist. Your subject line serves as the initial interaction customers have with your email – yet for a lot of marketers and copywriters, it’s still only an afterthought. While we agree that the email itself is the star of the show, that doesn’t matter if people don’t make it past the subject line. 

Make no mistake; your subject line is the most important element in your email campaigns. But you don’t have to take our word for it. 

Harsh reality – your perfectly curated, carefully designed, and strategically written email is worth nothing if it ends up in a spam folder.

To make things easier, we’ve taken our favorite subject line tips and listed them below. They’ve worked for us, and they’ll work for you too:

1. Keep it Short

Reminder, a majority of people are now reading emails on a mobile screen. So make the experience easy for them by keeping the subject short and to the point. Yes, you can absolutely be creative – but avoid being complex, or you’ll drive people away.

If half of your subject line gets cut off, you risk creating the wrong impression and distorting the meaning. We recommend keeping within 50 characters, though you actually have about 75 characters to play around with (and you thought Twitter was hard). 

2. Personalize

Personalizing isn’t only about including the names of your recipients. Get creative with your subject lines using other tactics – like retargeting data to pique a prospects’ interest. Segment your email list to create subject lines that have specific information which will strike a chord with your subscribers. Send birthday emails and special offers, or use geographical tags to make your emails relevant on an individual level. 

  • Example: Today’s your birthday. And here’s a treat from us.  

3. Insert a Popular Brand for Mega-Targeting

Make no mistake, brand names in subject lines work. The best part? You can create ultra-targeted email campaigns based on what your recipients bought in the past. For instance, if you’re having a sale on shoes and you have three different brands on sale, you can segment your email list based on which customers have bought what. If one part of your list has purchased Kenneth Cole shoes in the past, your subject line for this group should feature the words “Kenneth Cole.” This gives your customer the opportunity to stick with the brand they like best.

  • Example: These Kenneth Cole loafers have your name on them.

4. Use Emojis

More and more people are using emojis to express themselves. Keep in mind not all subject lines will be fit for emoji use. If your message can be paired with emojis, your audience might be able to relate better to your email, resulting in more opens.

Avoid replacing words with emojis. Instead, use them to compliment your text in case your chosen character doesn’t display in your recipient’s inbox.

4. Don’t Be Spammy

There are two hurdles your subject line needs to cross – spam filters and busy customers who don’t want to receive marketing emails. Coming across as pushy, loud, or overbearing can easily put people off and can even make them mark you as spam.

But there are also other ways of falling into the spammer category. Promising something in your subject line that you don’t deliver in your email, for example. Or, having a subject line that’s completely unrelated to your email. Broken links, using spam trigger words, outrageous offers, spam-like design, and bad UX/UI are some other red flags to watch out for and avoid.  

5. Use Customer Faves to Sate Curiosity

Most human beings are at least curious about what other people are buying. If a product has a huge audience and gets tons of good marks from customers, most likely, your recipient will be more inclined to buy it. For this reason, we believe that a “customer favorite” product featured in a subject line is an easy sell.

  • Example: They’ve sold out three times, but they’re back. 

6. Test

The Midas touch of email marketing. A/B testing your subject lines will give you real-world insight into whether or not your emails are working. Send out only two versions at a time so you can compare – and don’t forget to record your learnings for future campaigns.

  • Test 1: You don’t want to miss this sale. 
  • Test 2: All our t-shirts are 50% off. 

7. Ask a Question

Asking a question is a subject line technique that works well because it gives the customer something to think about. Your question should be something on almost every customer’s mind. Even if you answer the question in your subject line, recipients will be inclined to open your email to learn more. 

  • Example: Need a cool backpack for Fall? We’ve got ’em.

8. Make It a List

A list is an easy way to offer something of value, sell a product or service, and not seem too obvious about it. A list gives a customer a subconscious message that your email is organized in a way that makes it an easy read. They’ll be more compelled to open your email if they know ahead of time that they’ll not be facing a wall of text. Add products or services to this list, and you’ll not only get them interested in opening your email, but you can showcase various products at the same time. Here are some good examples:

  • Example: 10 products to take with you on vacation. 

There are so many more types of subject lines that you can explore with your campaigns. Collect data over time to see how best you can use this prime real estate to stand out in your customers’ inboxes – and minds.