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The Secret to Writing Effective E-Mail Subject Lines (so your list will read your e-mails)

Updated on June 26, 2011

Write your subject line carefully

If you’re an internet marketer, you know that mailing lists are a great way to reach out to existing or potential customers. E-mailing customers is such a great strategy, that many of us have become inundated with too many junk and even valid emails. This has created an environment where the average consumer is much more wary of emails than in the past. The question for many business owners is how to convince consumers that they have a valid offer. The truth is that your subject line is often your one-shot to convince the potential customer that not only are you a valid business, but you really have something that they need, and should open your email to find get details. The bottomline is that people are more likely to trash an email than open it, so, the subject line is more crucial than ever to ensure your e-mail list doesn’t get banned.

Every marketer chooses their mailing list with a goal in mind. Perhaps there’s a target age or socio-economic group, people who love French food or, if you’ve set up your website to obtain e-mail addresses, your list would include people who’ve requested more information from you. One of the keys to success is to keep your audience in mind when you write the subject line of your e-mail. Consider if you were in your audience’s shoes. What would make you open the email? It should be no surprise that an email subject line that has nothing to do with your recipient, or worse seems to have been written with little to thought, will almost always end straight into your prospective customer's e-mail garbage bin.

Second, when writing the subject line, don’t use excessive punctuation. Using too many exclamation points (!!!!) and/or question marks (???) will get your mailing list banned before it even reaches the consumer’s inbox. E-mail services like gmail, yahoo and MSN’s hotmail, will often automatically interpret emails with this kind of punctuation in the subject line as spam.

Third, consider that there are words which should be avoided. Examples include “exclusive”, “free” and “limited time”. When you combine those overused phrases with the excessive punctuation discussed above, it’s almost certain that your mailing list is going to get banned. Also make sure to use proper punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.  This will go a long way towards making you look both professional and legitimate. If you’re not sure if a subject line is “spammy,” consider asking the opinion of a trusted friend, business partner or spouse before you press the send button.

Don’t send emails to your mailing list too often. In fact sparingly, not much more than a few times per month, tops. Be especially careful not to send your list the same email numerous times. Consider how you would feel before launching a multiple e-mail campaign. If you simply take time, thought and effort whenever you send e-mails to your list, you will dramatically increase your chances of getting your messages opened and more importantly clicked through to your site.

Lastly, don’t try to “trick” people on your list into reading your message. If you write a subject line that refers to a previous connection with the recipient or if you try to come across as an old friend, you’ll likely still get thrown into the trash and banned from their inbox. Who would want to start to read the email only to realize that it’s not really what they thought it would be? Don’t forget to use absolute discretion when using that send button. Treat your mailing list like a priceless antique; with deference and respect. By putting as much thought into the subject line as you do the rest of the email, you’ll make a better connection with your prospective customers and avoid being banned from their e-mail’s inbox.

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    • profile image

      Steven M Schultz 8 years ago

      I've seen absolute terrible email subject lines that caused me to immediately delete the email without even opening the it. The subject line is a very important element of the email "package".

    • IndSupplyCo profile image

      IndSupplyCo 8 years ago from Casper, WY

      You provided very informative info. Email subject lines are very significant to acquiring your email read. It is very beneficial. Nice tips! Thanks again!

    • MisCook profile image

      MisCook 8 years ago

      Well you live and learn - never new there was such a thing! I'll take more notice of the email newsletters I get from now on.

    • BlueSkyBright profile image

      BlueSkyBright 8 years ago

      great info. The subject line is everything - I agree and is very important when users decide whether or not to open the rest of the email

    • profile image

      reviewqueen 8 years ago

      Email Subject lines are so important to getting your email read. I always like to use the persons name in the subject line but it all comes down to testing.


    • YBCT12 profile image

      YBCT12 8 years ago from Georgia

      Very good info. I could not agree more that the subject line of marketing email is very important. And Portal Feeder sounds like a great service.

    • moving101 profile image

      moving101 8 years ago

      Awesome information, especially today, where so much business is done via email. Your blog is very informative as well. I truely appreciate information like this.