Subject Line: Would You Read This?


Alex Butterworth


February 26, 2015


Lifecycle Marketing

During the day, one of the breaks we all take is to check our personal emails. You’re looking for something, anything that catches your eye. Well-known brands like Nike can get away with putting almost anything in the subject line because their customers are intensely loyal. But if you’re not Nike, the only way to get the subscriber to open your email by creating a “good” subject line.Writing a “good” subject line is harder than you would think. People are constantly giving their advice and opinions on the rules of writing a good subject line. There is no shortage of people offering their advice and opinions on the rules of writing a good subject line. Luckily, working at Hawke Media, I have seen subject line wins and losses across platforms, industries, demographics, etc so let me be one of those people and let you in on the little tricks that have worked for me.

Keep It Short(er)

Short, concise, and to the point. Less is more. Along with the body of the email, people generally don’t want to read a lot. And most of the time, we’re checking our email on the go, from our mobile devices, so subject lines tend to be restricted. Ideally, subject lines with six to ten words have had the most successful open rates.

Use Certain Words

If there’s an incentive offer, show it in the subject. Subscribers are way more likely to open knowing that they are going to get something out of it. Show a sense of urgency, make them feel like if they don’t open the email, they will miss out on a great offer. Using ellipses helps visually draw the attention of the subscriber because it breaks up words. Interchange using power words like “shocking,” “secret,” “best,” “quick,” “amazing,” you get the picture. That being said, there are definitely words you should avoid using as well because they will attract spam catchers. These are words like “free,” “guarantee,” affordable,” etc.

Go With What You Know

Study your analytics. Simply just see what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. If you’re unsure, use the split testing opportunity that most email service providers (ESPs) provide. Some will send out a small batch (about 20 percent) to test a subject line, and whichever had better open rates will be sent to the remaining 80 percent of subscribers. People also like relatable and familiar content, so think from the subscriber's perspective.If you have questions about subject line best practices or want advice on your strategies, please feel free to reach out! Click here to schedule a free consultation with us.


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