THE BLOG
07/21/2016 10:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

4 Crucial Questions To Ask Yourself Before Creating Your Email Subject Line

2016-07-21-1469065569-1667976-Emailmarketing.jpgConsidering the amount of email we get on a daily basis, most of us don't have time to read each one that lands in our inbox.

You may spend a great deal of time and effort coming up with that perfect email, image, offer, and call-to-action, but if you haven't spent much time thinking about a good subject line, than all that hard work could be for none.

Did you know that according to Convince & Convert, 35% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone and 69% report email as spam based solely on the subject line?

Ultimately, your subject line in instrumental to the success of your email. If you want your prospects or customers to read your emails, your subject line needs to be effective.

So how can you create a great subject line that'll maximize the chances your email will get read? In this post, I'll outline four essential questions to ask yourself before finalizing your subject line.

1. Does it intrigue?

In order for your subject line to stand out, it should intrigue. It should peak curiosity enough to get people to want to open the email and read more. Note that while a subject line should incentivize your recipients to open the email, it shouldn't be misleading; it should still give your recipients an accurate idea of what they can expect to find once they open it. Otherwise, you run the risk of setting people up for disappointment and them not taking your emails seriously in the future.

Examples of subject lines that intrigue:

  • Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (from Groupon, a global e-commerce marketplace)
  • What Can You Afford? (from Zillow, an online real estate database company)
  • Do Not Commit These Instagram Atrocities (from Thrillist, a food, drink, and travel website)

2. Does it resonate with your target audience?

Does your subject line play to your audience's wants, needs, or pain points? You should be confident that your audience will be interested in reading your email, so ask yourself, "Does the subject line truthfully communicate what my audience will find once they open it? The answer to both of these questions should be a resounding "Yes."

3. Is it short and to-the-point?

It' always important to be concise but it's especially crucial when writing subject lines. Why? A subject line that's over 50 characters is likely to get cut off once it arrives in the recipient's inbox. Furthermore, a long, wordy subject line won't stand out. If people can't read your subject line right away and feel compelled to open it, it likely won't be effective. And when it comes to shorter subject lines, research has shown that they have higher open and click-through rates.

Examples of subject lines that are short and to-the-point:

  • What Are Our Customers Saying? (from DocuSign, a company that provides electronic signature technology services)
  • Where to Drink Beer Right Now (from Eater Boston, a food, drink, and restaurant website)
  • You're Missing Out on Points (from the airline, JetBlue)

4. Is it personalized?

Personalizing a subject line by including the recipient's name somewhere in the subject line is one great way for your email to stand out in a cluttered inbox. If you have the first names of your recipients and the data is accurate, personalizing some of your subject lines are a no-brainer. I recommend doing some A/B testing to see how it works for you.

Just like shorter subject lines, research has also shown that personalized subject lines get more opens than those without personalization: Experian Marketing Services found that there was a 29% average uplift in open-rate for all industries when the subject line was personalized (although this data varied considerably across industries).

Before you hit "Send," spend some time thinking about your email subject line. Ask yourself the four questions above to maximize the likelihood people will open and read your emails.