Tips, Tricks and the Importance of Subject Lines

By OctaneGo, October 7, 2013 | Tips & Resources

As email marketers, we all know that subject lines are one of the most important drivers for getting email campaign ‘opens’. Users only get compelled to open an email based on two factors: The ‘from name’ and the ‘subject line’. Now, there is not much one can do with ‘from name’ but subject lines can be used extensively and creatively to drive forward your email campaign’s success.



                                    Examples of two different subject lines for the same mailer

Many online marketers maintain that one should spend twice as much time on reviewing subject lines than the main body of the email. So let’s talk a little bit about the do’s/don’ts and experiments you can do with subject lines. Now there are 2 important rules to keep in mind for finding success with subject lines in email campaigns:

Rule 1 – Always keep experimenting

Rule 2 – Never forget Rule 1


Personalisation and Location Reference: A lot of blogs and ESPs across the world (including us) have seen that personalising the subject line works; but if you include local area details in the subject line, it works even better with improved open rates. This can be of great use for daily deal sites and e-commerce websites.

Be brief: It is widely believed that longer subject lines tend to disengage the customer. Keeping the subject line character count under the 50 can help on desktops and mobiles (where we already know that only about the first 35 characters are visible in the subject line).

Use questions: A recent study (by Litmus) states that subject lines that are written as questions tend to do better in against the normal ‘statement’ subject lines.

Be specific: Your subject line should never confuse the subscriber; it should clearly state the content and intent of the email and intrigue the subscriber to open it. Adding a call to action can also prove helpful.

Use A/B testing: Use A/B testing… a lot… to find out what kind of subject lines work better for you and your subscribers. We also have a blog about A/B testing if you want to learn more about it.

Your Identity: While subject lines are very important, they won’t help you much if your subscribers get confused by your ‘from name’. Hence, it is strongly recommended to keep the ‘from name’ consistent always.


All Capital Letters and Special Characters: The use of special characters and Capital Letters can make your emails susceptible to landing in the spam folder. Avoiding special characters (!,@,#,$,%,?,/,*,&,) and all capital letters (FREE! SPECIAL OFFER ONLY FOR YOU!) might help your email land in the inbox and give it a better shot of getting opened. There are however some experiments being done with other kinds of special characters like ‘hearts – ♥’ and ‘smiley faces – ☺’ without hitting the spam folder.

Spammy Words: There are a few words that have been done to death by spammers and their use can negatively impact an email campaign’s performance. Examples of such would be: Free, Sale, Offer, %OFF etc. Instead, you can use different words/phrases like – complimentary, on the house, only for you etc.

Misleading Subject Lines: There are many campaigns that are sent out with something interesting mentioned in the subject line but the main body of the mailer has no reference of the same. That is, there is little or no correlation between the mail and the subject line. This is not only misleading the subscriber into opening the email, but it also hurts the overall reputation of your initiative and your brand. The subject line should always be relevant to the mailer.

These are just a few of the things that you can consider/keep in mind when creating subject lines for your campaigns. Proper implementation of a few things mentioned above alone can help you can take your email marketing to the next level.

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