Did you know that 35% of emails are opened based on the subject line alone? Even worse, a whopping 69% of email users flag an email as spam after just seeing the subject line. If email marketing is a key component of your internet marketing strategy, then open rates are the start of building a relationship with your subscribers.

If you want to get your message seen in your readers’ inboxes, it is crucial that you get the subject line right. Failure to do so won’t just get your email sent straight to the trash can, it might even earn you a spam report.

On that note, here are some tips to write killer email subject lines that will get your newsletters and emails the attention they deserve.

  1. Make a List of Words to Avoid

Sales-oriented words like “Free” or “Discounts” may get your higher initial click-throughs (10% higher, by one estimate), but they can also easily trigger spam filters. With email services like Gmail increasingly becoming wary of promotional emails, salesy subject lines can associate your emails with spam.

Other common words you might want to avoid are ‘Help’ or ‘Reminder’ which have been overused so much by marketers that they turn people off at first sight.

Check out this HubSpot post for a list of words you should avoid.

  1. Add a Personal Touch…and Local One too

Mailchimp research on email subject lines shows that including the recipient’s first or last name in the subject line improves open rates. Adding a city name to the subject line helps too – especially when you want to target potential customers based on their location.

The mega retail store Target used this tactic in an promotional email blast on May 31, 2013. It shortlisted retail stores closest to the mail recipients’ listed addresses and sent them localized mailers that read like this:

“New this week: Check out the deals at your [Location_Name] Target Store.”

The email campaign proved to be quite successful as readers found the mail much more relevant to them. Remember, personalization leads to engagement and there are SEO benefits from the additional traffic, comments and social shares that result from your email efforts.

  1. Don’t be Repetitive

Repeating a subject line from a successful email template over and over again is a bit like telling the same joke at every party. People might find it funny at first, but they’ll get sick of it soon enough.

Try to come up with fresh, insightful subject lines for all your emails. Your readers will appreciate the creativity and your emails will stand out in their inboxes.

Just remember that the subject line should match the content of the email. You can’t mislead a reader with a clever promise but underdeliver in the email body. And when they arrive on your site, the content marketing must match as well. That’s a sure-shot recipe to being ignored. In fact, a 2011 study by AWeber Communications proved that clear subject lines generated 541% more response than creative ones.

  1. Keep it Short

Adobe reported that 79% smartphone owners use it to access their emails. Due to the smaller smartphone screens, any email longer than 50 character gets truncated.

In fact, according to one study, emails with 49 characters or fewer get 12.5% higher open rates.

This is why businesses like Buzzfeed keep their email subject lines so short.


The email subject line is one of, if not the most important part of your marketing emails. By keeping them short, avoiding spammy words, and using fresh, creative content you can easily stand out in the inbox and get your open rates up.