How to write your email subject lines more effectively

A tale by

Janet Hancock

Email subject lines can make or break a person’s opinion of your mail. If not done with thought and intent, could mean that you have wasted precious time on sending something that is a flop.

Have you ever received an email that you have immediately wanted to open, purely because of the email subject line? In the same breathe, have you ever received an email that had you sending it to the trash before opening, because you knew straight away that it was going to be a waste of time?

Let’s chat about a few ideas on how to up your subject line game.

Make it short and catchy.

Writing an essay in your email subject line is just not cool. Firstly, because it will be cut off, especially on mobile devices, so no one will really read what your are saying anyway. Secondly, it loses its impact and purpose. By being too long, your message will be lost in a blur of letters. Try keeping it short, punchy or even ask a question like, “Do you need help with your social pages?”. If you are going to ask a question, make sure you specify what you are selling or talking about – simply asking, “Do you need help?”, doesn’t really portray your message at all.

Send from a familiar name.

Imagine if Woolworths all of a sudden started sending their emails from an unknown name like “that clothing company” or something else. You would have no clue who the mail was from. It’s the same for any business – if you don’t choose a sender name that is either the name of your company or a name that people would recognise or relate to your business, then it will get rather confusing. If your company name is how people recognise you, then we would suggest going with that for your mailer “sender name”.

Use Emoticons.

Something that we have discovered recently is the ability to use emoticons in our email subject lines. These add a fun, creative element to your otherwise boring text and can entice your reader to want to open your mail. Imagine receiving an email with a unicorn and cupcake in the subject line – you would want to open that immediately right? 

Don’t make false promises.

Your email subject line is the first chance you have to engage your reader. It’s where you get to draw them in with what they will read in the mailer. If you make big promises in this small space with what they are going to read or gain in the mail, you better make good on these promises, otherwise, you have lost them forever as a client or trusted follower. Frustrating your audience with false promises will only result in less open rates and more unsubscribes.

Give the reader an idea of what’s inside.

You need to write an email subject line that is catchy and draws them in, but at the same time informs them of what they can find inside the mailer. If your reader has subscribed for instance on your website for a free recipe book, then a mail containing this recipe book needs to have a subject line that is more than just “thank-you”, but tells them that their recipe book is inside, i.e, “Free Recipe Book inside”.

It’s all about the timing.

The time and day that you send a newsletter are supercritical. For instance, sending a mailer on a Friday night at 7 pm is probably not the best idea as most people are out celebrating the weekend by then or spending time with their families. However, sending a mail at 8 am on a Wednesday morning would catch the attention of the majority of your audience as most of them would be sitting at their desks, going through their daily emails.


No one likes to be shouted at and that’s the exact impression you give off when you write in CAPS. You are not going to get more opens if you force your content down someone’s throat – in fact, you will lose subscribers. In the same vein, overuse of exclamation marks can also send your subscribers running. They are tacky in excess and kinda spammy like.

There are plenty of other email subject line best practices that you can look out for, but start with these and you will soon see that your mailers are being opened a heck of a lot more than usual. You can also check out all the helpful information on for more ideas

For help with writing your actual email, read our blog about the correct tone to use.

Happy Mailing!

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