Email Marketer’s Key to a Healthy Subject Line

by | Sep 27, 2017 | Email Marketing

6 Min Read. |

Email, ever since its inception, has been the subtly effective leader as a marketing tool. Amidst the plethora of communication tools availablethere is nothing out there to challenge its effectiveness and its existence. Email is here to stay! Looking at it from the marketer’s perspective, it offers immense value in terms of returns on investment and the ease of customization.  Additionally, as it goes with all tools, email holds its own set of challenges. Obstacles lie in the refinement of its components. The component in question is the Subject Line.

Picture this, you have put in the effort to create appealing content for your email which is sure to grab the attention of the readers. But, what if the readers don’t open your email in the first place or what if the email doesn’t reach its destination at all instead ends up in SPAM. All that effort has gone to waste. Now you are left to wonder where did you go wrong, what could you have done better to get the readers to open it or why did it even land up in the SPAM folder. The key to avoid being ignored lies in a healthy subject line.

Ultimately, if the search is on to find that one perfect subject line to get all the emails opened with one subject line then that is an exercise in futility. Each reader is unique and so are their interests. To pique the curiosity and to get higher open rates, there are few workarounds that are open to being tried and tested. In addition, avoiding certain mistakes is necessary to stay away from being marked spam. Let us go through a few workarounds and potholes to avoid:

Subject Line: Workarounds

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Location connect

Location-specific email campaigns can take advantage of the subject line by using the location to add a personal touch. For example, “Reason to rejoice for people of Chennai”. Adding this little detail can pique the interest of location-targeted readers.

Spot on

The message sent across must be precise and obvious. Readers need to find the content relevant to them because there should be no room for confusion or beating about the bush. For a subject line to be spot on, it is paramount to be specific.

Be a genuine sender

The subject should not trigger any confusion or suspicion over the contents of the email. Adding the name of the product or the company in brackets at the beginning of the subject is a good way to calm the nerves.

Short and simple

Short and simple subject lines tend to keep the reader focused. Longer subjects can deter the reader from showing any interest, leading to higher chances of the email being ignored. For instance, 45-50 characters seem too long and they don’t work well with mobile optimization. 30-35 characters is a good range to maintain, considering the fact that about 35 characters are visible in a mobile inbox.

Urgency and include a call to action

To get the recipients to act, create a sense of urgency and include a call to action. A call to action can direct the recipients to their next step and ensure the recipient does not skim the email in the process of going through their inbox.

Build questions 

Questions prepare the mind for an answer. The need to answer works in a way that leads to opening up the email and read. A question performs better than statements.


Subject Line: Potholes

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All capital letters

Capitalization of letters does not go well with recipients.

  • Firstly, instead of communicating the idea, it seems like the sender is shouting out for attention. There is no need for a shoutout around the subject.
  • Secondly, capitalization could trigger the spam filter.

Lack clarity

The subject must be in line with the content it represents. The reader should be able to make sense of the contents by just looking at the subject line. People around could be of great help in landing up a good subject line. Ask them to read the subject and figure out its contents, if they get the content right, the subject is good to go. If not, the subject lacks clarity.

Do not mislead

Email is a great tool to build trust and gain the loyalty of your recipient. When the email becomes misleading, it puts the trust in danger, which is a big no for any marketer out there. This highlights the significance of the subject line.

Consequently, if the subject seems like a lie, the recipient will avoid the content. This will earn the sender a bad reputation and mistrust which will lead to the absolute avoidance of any further communication.

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SPAM trigger words

Emails could remain undelivered because of certain words which could trigger the SPAM filters. Some noteworthy words are:

  • Free
  • Clearance
  • Additional income
  • Cash
  • Guaranteed
  • Money back
  • Weight loss
  • Offer

These are a selected few, amidst many, that could trigger the filters. As a general rule, if a word sounds like a giveaway or an alluring trap, chances are it is a spam triggering word. Additionally, for the entire list of words, do check out Hubspot’s: The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words

Special characters and numbers

The usage of special characters (%, #, *, &, etc) carries a higher probability of getting the emails opened but there is no substantial evidence to show an increase in the click rate.

On the other hand, numbers offer the chance to increase the engagement levels and build up curiosity. But, the chances of the mail sounding like one of those spam emails is higher. In effect, it could trigger suspicion in the informed recipient’s mind. Even though it sounds like a small risk, it is an avoidable risk for a healthy subject.



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Being creative goes a long way in writing a good subject line. It helps by adding a personal touch, both for the sender and the recipient. To be effective, stay in tune with the market trends and update yourself with good practices. To a good marketer, each recipient brings along an opportunity for building a rapport, earning the trust, and gaining loyalty in the long run. Furthermore, for an email marketer, it is imperative to build on the good practices and be aware of the looming potholes. In addition, develop an eye for detail and look at each component of the email stringently.

Here are a few template examples to help you develop a perspective writing good subject lines.

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