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How to Write Powerful Email Marketing Subject Lines

email marketing

You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect marketing email. You have a call-to-action, eye-catching visuals, and enticing content—but your target market doesn’t know that. Your email is one of dozens, maybe even hundreds, that a reader receives each day. A successful email marketing campaign starts with a subject line that captures the attention of your reader and convinces them to open your email.

Creating powerful subject lines isn’t as simple as stating what waits inside your email. Instead, it’s important to keep your audience’s desires in mind, the industry of your company, and to include keywords.

By carefully following a few best practices for creating powerful subject lines, you will see your open rate percentage increase overnight.

Test Your Subject Lines

Always test your subject lines—no exceptions! You can do this by creating two subject lines and running an A/B test. Many email marketing platforms have features that can automate this for you. This kind of testing can reveal small differences between your subject lines by initially sending an email to only 5–10 percent of your audience. Half receive subject line A and half receive subject line B. Once the highest performing subject line has been determined, the winning subject line will be sent to the remainder of your contacts.

Each time you run an A/B split test, take note of the winning and losing subjects. See if you notice any differences. You might find a reoccurring theme. Your audience might love emojis in subject lines, while other audiences might be turned off by them. Some may want to know the promotion you’re running, while others are more interested in new products.

Be Specific and Descriptive

“Fall into savings!” “Warm up with these hot winter deals!” How often have you seen subject lines such as these? These subject lines might be trendy, but they don’t tell your reader what the promotion you’re offering is, and your competitors may be using similar language. You can be descriptive while still including specifics in your subject line.


BAD: Take a Look at Our Fall Specials

GOOD: Usher in Fall with 30% Markdowns on Our Best Sellers

Count Characters

Much of your audience now primarily checks their email on a mobile device. This means your subject line is squeezed onto a smaller screen. Try to avoid subject lines that are cut off on mobile devices, and if they are cut off, have your selling point in the first few words. To check this, send a few test emails to your personal Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or any other widely used platforms by your audience. When you receive the test email, take a look to see if your preview text or subject line are cut off by the platform’s design and space allotments.

Don’t Be Misleading

Never send your contacts a misleading subject line. While it’s important to grab your audience’s attention, misleading subject lines will cause an increase in unsubscriptions and could possibly cause your future emails to be marked at spam.

Create a Sense of Urgency If your offer is only for a limited time, test out stating the deadline in the subject line. You want to invoke a sense of urgency and curiosity in your readers. If they know they have a limited time to catch a special deal or schedule a consultation, they will be more likely to act.

Use Engaging Preview Text

The subject line is extended by the use of preview text. This is the text that appears after the subject line on platforms such as Gmail or Yahoo. Most email marketing platforms will ask you for this text after the subject line. This is a space where you can promote specific products, services, or secondary offers.


SUBJECT: Get a Glow with 50% Off Microdermabrasion PREVIEW: Introducing waxing services!


SUBJECT: It’s Back! Feast on the Bacon Brisket Burger

PREVIEW: Don’t Forget! Kids Eat Free Today.

Subject lines are only the beginning. Email marketing campaigns—successful ones—require attention to dozens of details and planning. For a free audit of your current email marketing campaigns, contact Studio Brand Collective today.

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