5 tips for crafting email subject lines that actually work


Crafting a subject line can be a tormentous occasion. It’s so important to get that one single line of text perfect. If you don’t, the time you put into the email and into your email content is essentially wasted. Nobody wants that. Writers and editors should be putting in serious time to come up with a terrific subject line that will actually capture the attention of the reader - if they don’t, they risk their email being ignored or worse, sent straight to the trash.

When we craft subject lines for marketing emails there are many important things to consider. This article will walk you through what they are and how you can best use this insight to create email subject lines that actually work!


It’s not groundbreaking news that if you personalise a subject line to include a receiver's name, there’s a higher chance a reader will open the email. But what is new, and quickly becoming more common, is the use of adding other personalisation tags, such as localisation, in an email subject line. Research shows including a city name boosts opening rates! It’s likely the receiver will feel this email relates to them more than an email without a city name. If you’re a B2B company it’s also effective to include your contact’s company name in the subject line to make it more relevant.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Localisation: Discover [Manly’s] best bars for a good night out OR Great news for our friends in Sydney!

  • Company name Take [CeBIT] to the next level with these easy marketing tips

Place the most important words at the start

People generally scan their email inbox and more and more people are viewing their emails primarily on their smartphones. This means subject lines need to include your most important words at the beginning. They also need to be kept short - the general rule has been 60 characters but recent research suggests keeping it under 50 characters is more effective

Don’t underestimate the power of deadlines

FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a real thing. Considering that more than 50% of social media users admit to suffering from FOMO, it’s inevitable people who read their email will too if you can garner their interest by the copy in your subject line.


  • Emma, there’s just ONE DAY left to sign up to our webinar!

  • Serena, don’t miss out on these great bargains. Sale ends tomorrow!

Reassess your sender details

While not strictly the subject line, it’s important to consider who the message is being sent from. Many companies do this in different ways. Sometimes emails will come directly from the CEO. Some companies will use the company name. Other’s will say it’s [Employee name] from [Company Name]. Depending on your business you need to decide what will resonate with your audience.

For example, the clothing company Dotti sends promotional emails with the ‘from’ field as ‘Dotti’. Their consumers know this will be a sales email, and if they’re interested in new clothes or fashion, they’re highly likely to open the email. It would be a different story if the email was from David Bull, Dotti’s Fast Fashion Director. Dotti shoppers are very unlikely to know who Mr Bull is and they would become confused and likely delete the email thinking it’s spam.

Contently, a marketing website, sends their emails out with the form field Jess at Contently. Instantly readers know the company and the person they can contact if they have any questions, comments or concerns.

Booking Bossan Australian b2b tourism start-up, sends their emails from the CEO Renee Welsh’s name. This give readers direct access to the CEO and helps to make readers feel the company is approachable.

The best ‘from’ field for your company or business needs to be given careful consideration and attention. Not doing so could have negative effects on your email campaign.

Be specific

Your database should be filled with contacts who are genuinely interested in your product or service.  And if it is, your subject lines should reflect specifically what you’re offering them. You want it to be obvious what your message is about and what they’re going to get when they open the email. Without it your message will be lost amongst the masses of emails flooding into inboxes everyday.

Watch out for:

  • Always sending an email with the same subject line, they’re ineffective in the long term.
  • Using special characters in the subject line, it’s known to trigger spam filters.
  • Sending far too many emails out, it annoys users and you’ll find yourself losing contacts.

The world of digital marketing moves rapidly it’s imperative fom marketing professionals to stay ahead of the latest trends. Download your copy of our CeBIT 2016 Marketing Report to get a complete rundown of the future of digital marketing from the experts.

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