It may be small in size, but sometimes the toughest part of writing an e-blast is that pesky subject line!

If you’ve been wondering what your subject line should look like, what it should say, how it affects your open rates, or how it can keep your e-mails out of spam folders, we can help with some suggestions…

 miguelavg / Car Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

How to format your subject line

Before thinking about exactly what to say, it helps to think about your email’s format. This can help give you some guidelines and criteria for writing your message. MailChimp, a leading e-mail marketing service, has some tips:

  • A general rule of thumb is to keep your subject line under 50 characters.
  • Your reason for sending the e-mail will also help determine the length. If you’re sharing information, short is best! Subject lines between 4-15 characters long receive the best open rates. For click-throughs to your website or other link, 28-39 characters proved strongest.
  • Believe it or not, people do like numbers, and including them will improve your open rate!
  • Make sure to identify your nonprofit or brand to earn trust from the recipient.
  • Be mindful of your mobile audience, who will see an even smaller portion of the subject line. Include the most important terms at the front, in case they get cut off.

How to write the best performing content

What should your subject line say? What types of words could make recipients more or less likely to open your e-mail?

  • MailChimp says that three common phrases actually reduce e-mail open rates: Help, Percent Off, and Reminder.
  • Did you know that subject lines phrased as questions have higher open rates?
  • Keep it accurate! Don’t mislead your recipients by promising content in the e-mail that isn’t actually there. It may help your initial open rate, but will hurt any follow-up communication.
  • Being ‘personal’ by using a recipient’s name in the subject line doesn’t prove very effective. However, localizing the e-mail by including their city or region does work, as readers feel the content is more targeted to them.
  • Be original! We all know how many e-mails can pour in every day. It’s important to target your audience with subject lines geared to their interests, and be creative to stand out from the crowd. Creativity may even help your e-mail receive some buzz on social media.

How to avoid spam filters

Last but not least, all of this is of little use if your e-mail never makes it to your recipient! Automatic spam detection can derail your next e-mail campaign, so here are a few tips from HubSpot to help you stay clear of the spam folder!

  • Avoid excessive punctuation!!!! You may be excited about your latest e-mail campaign, but over-doing it with exclamation or question marks might only excite the spam detectors.
  • There’s no need to write in ALL CAPS.  E-mail subject lines are one case where bigger isn’t better. There are better ways to stand out from the crowd that won’t end with your e-blast being marked as spam.
  • There are a lot of words common to spam that you will want to stay away from, even if they’re relevant to your e-mail: free, guaranteed, win, earn, click, and cash are some examples.

We hope that these tips come in handy the next time you’re stuck filling out the subject line before sending out your e-blast!

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