email-subject-linesOne cornerstone of every email marketing campaign is a well-designed subject line. By taking advantage of some tried and true principles, you will maximize the effectiveness of your campaign, generate a better open rate, and improve click-through performance. Like many things, generating effective subject lines is part art and part science.

1. Make Your Subject Lines Clear. While it may be tempting to make your subject lines humorous, witty or bizarre enough to really stand out, the data shows that what really works is clarity. What is an example of a clear, cogent subject line? Stick to something like “5 Things To Do Before Getting A Divorce” or “The Best Way To Improve Your Social Media Presence.”

2. Eliminate The Spam. Getting rid of spammy sounding words in your subject lines will go a long way towards improving their performance. After years of aggressive email campaigns launched in their direction, consumers have become increasingly wary of words like free, cash, discount, and special offer. Make sure you don’t sound like a carnival barker.

3.┬áRepresent What’s Inside Honestly. Common sense says that the crux of the subject line should represent exactly what is contained in the body of the email. The closer you make that match, the more likely your viewer is to complete your call to action(s) once they’ve opened the email. Don’t mislead or confuse your prospects, as this is never the happy path in marketing.

4. Keep The Length Reasonable. Within reason, the shorter and more succinct, the better. In general, try and limit the length of your subject lines to about 50 characters or less. That may not seem like a lot to many accomplished copywriters, but keep in mind that as length increases, the chances of someone reading the entire subject decreases. In addition, many email inboxes – especially when viewed on mobile devices – won’t be able to surface a longer subject line.

5. Use The Right Tools. There are a variety of tools available that can help you write the ideal subject line. One good example is Subjectline.com, which provides a valuable free grading tool. In addition, many email service providers, like MailChimp, offer an internal subject line generation or grading tool to help you improve your open rates.

6. A/B Test Your Subject Lines. Generally speaking, you’ll want to test your subject lines head to head often. The goal is to see which one delivers a better open rate or improves throughput in terms of clicks or desired results from those who read your emails. You may also want to test a different offer or promotion, or test the efficacy of two different pieces of marketing content. It may be close at times, but often you will find a clear winner and results that you can learn from.

Email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to build reach. As one of the lynchpins to a successful campaign, choosing the proper subject line carefully will help increase open and click rates. Doing your research beforehand can make all the difference.