Email marketing subject lines – Traktek - digital marketing agency

How do You Craft A Successful Email Subject Line?

When it comes to email subject lines, the best are just like any effective social media caption or blog post title - short, sweet, and most importantly simple. With thousands of emails delivered to your inbox daily, an effective email subject line is essential to successful open rates, which ideally leads to click rate and engagement. As a digital marketing agency for B2B and B2C, we’ve stumbled (yes, stumbled) and succeeded in crafting the perfect email subject lines. Now we’re sharing our dos and don’ts so you won’t have to.

Do: Avoid triggered SPAM words. SPAM filters can be triggered for a variety of reasons and cause your email recipients to not even receive your email, forcing it straight into their SPAM box.  The easiest way to dodge this is to avoid words that trigger the filters – such as act now, bonus, limited time, urgent, don’t delete, order now, special promotion, amazing, order status, buy, clearance, orders shipped by, or generally anything with the word ‘free’ included in it. Even certain formats such as capitalizing FREE will knock you into the dreaded SPAM filter.

We used the subject line ‘Free Shipping this Week Only’ in a B2C campaign to test the results. The word ‘free’ did in fact trigger the spam filter, resulting in an 89% deliverability rate. We updated the subject line to read ‘Special Offer: Safe Water Everywhere You Travel’ and sent to those who didn’t receive the email due to the spam block. The deliverability rate went up to 99.5%.

P.S. If your using Exact Target for email campaigns, they have a useful tool to help with this called Content Detective. This will scan your email for any words or phrases that would prevent email deliverability. Not only does it scan the email subject line, but the body as well and gives an explanation of why not to use the word or phrase.

Don't: Make your email subject line long.  Why keep subject lines short? The answer is mobile. According to Hubspot, 40% of emails are being opened on mobile first (although it depends on the industry). And surprisingly enough, the ideal length of subject lines in B2B and B2C email campaigns also vary. Longer subject lines (over 16 words) win in B2B while a 20-word subject line have shown to deliver in B2C emails.

Do: Use a tool to subject line test. Since there are so many variables into what goes into the ‘perfect subject line’, it becomes easy to forget what and what not to include. An easy way to overcome this barrier is to use a subject line tester. A great one to use is Not only is it free but it also provides you with a score out of 100 evaluating how effective your subject line will be. The tool also explains why you get deducted points (mobile subject line too long, no sense of urgency) or added points (includes word you or your).

Do: Use numbers.  Just like using numbers in blog post titles is an effective best practice, including in email subject lines is also considered a ‘do’. This is a great way to get your email to have a higher open rate. It shows you are being straightforward about the offer at hand, piques interest and sets you apart from other vague subject lines. All in all, people put more trust in it when it’s backed up by facts. Makes sense when you think about it, right?

In our webinar emails for a B2C client, we switched from using bland subject lines such as ‘Register Now For Our Webinar’ or ‘Informational Webinar’ to a straight forward ones with concrete numbers, such as - ‘4 Reasons to Register for Our Webinar’ and saw a spike in our unique open rates and a significant increase in registrations. (Think 90 now, and 15 before). Focus around small odd and even numbers or large round numbers. For instance, it’s better to use 1,000 instead of 998.

Don’t: Send out emails without spell checking first. As much as this seems to be an obvious one, sometimes the most obvious isn’t so much. If you’re writing a subject line and email, have someone else review. Or, if that’s not possible, take a break and come back to re-read and review. With a limited attention span, first impression is critical. Misspelling also makes your company appear as extremely unprofessional.

Traktek Partners is a digital marketing agency that assists clients on email marketing in ExactTarget, Hubspot workflows and other marketing automation solutions. Let us know if we can help you increase conversions and engagement within your email marketing campaigns.