Ten Tips for Email Subject Lines

Effective Email Subject Lines

The subject line of your email can make the difference between whether a subscriber opens your message or deletes it. It is the first thing your supporters will see. Pack your subject lines with details about what’s inside, emphasizing the benefits to the reader of taking a few extra seconds to see what’s in the body of the message.

It is important to have not only a subject line that is effective for email openings, but also one that does not get filtered into the spam folder. Reference the below tips to learn the best ways to capitalize on your subject lines and avoid having your emails deleted or filtered as spam.

Ten Tips for Email Subject lines

1. Keep your subject lines to 35 characters or less (open rates drop from 24% to  17% on average when the subject line goes over 35 characters). Never go over 50 characters.

2. Include the name of the newsletter (if your email is a newsletter) and date/issue number in the subject line and use a different subject line for every issue.

3. Tell the reader what to expect inside the email.

4. Keep it straightforward and to the point. Don’t try to be overly creative!

5. For fundraising emails, be direct and put the request in the subject line (if you want your reader to take action) – Although the open rate may be smaller for direct subject lines, people are more likely to act on a direct message as opposed to an indirect one. Subscribers to nonprofit emails expect this.

6. For newsletter emails, avoid telling people what to do (If your goal is to increase open rates). Telling your reader what to do can hurt your open rates, because it’s so easy to decide, “No, I don’t want to do that now. Delete.” (Keep in mind, however, that, although it can hurt open rates, using direct words, or “telling people what to do” has been shown to improve conversion rates. So, using direct words can be beneficial for fundraising emails. For newsletter emails, refer to the above and to Tip number 2).

7. Provide localization, such as city names, when applicable.

8. Pose your subject line as a question – these emails tend to perform better.

9. Avoid promotional, cheesy, or sales phrases – do not write your subject line like an advertisement.

10. Avoid words like “free,”” help,” and “reminder,” as they tend to trigger spam filters.

S. Slade Sundar

S. Slade Sundar is a senior executive, strategist, and international speaker on topics including fundraising, endurance registration, millennial management, performance culture, and online technology.

As the Chief Operating Officer of Forte Interactive, Slade leads marketing, operations, human resources, and product development, while overseeing a staff of Millennial employees.
S. Slade Sundar
S. Slade Sundar
S. Slade Sundar is a senior executive, strategist, and international speaker on topics including fundraising, endurance registration, millennial management, performance culture, and online technology. As the Chief Operating Officer of Forte Interactive, Slade leads marketing, operations, human resources, and product development, while overseeing a staff of Millennial employees.
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