Strategic Marketing Blog

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7 Best Practices Tips for Email Subject Lines

When it comes to email marketing, one of the smallest yet most important elements of the email communication is the subject line. An effective subject line will entice the reader to open the email and consume your information. However, an ineffective subject line will be overlooked, deleted and results in a missed opportunity to communicate and share your message with your audience members. So, how do you write an informative, clear and compelling subject line that will engage your subscriber audience?

Mailchimp, an email service provider with more than 8 million people and business users around the world, conducted a study on effective subject lines and the best types of subject lines to write to increase open rates. Below is a recap of that study.


Many factors affect how an email is viewed, such as frequency, sender and the nature of the message. Personal messages bring the highest interest, followed by affiliations and timely news. On the other end, stale newsletters, requests for money and offers that are too good to be true were factors that decreased open rates.

Some quick tips:

  1. Three spammy words – An unexpected discovery in the analysis was the inclusion of three words: help, percent off and reminder. They do not trigger spam filters, but they do negatively affect open rates.
  2. A local spin helps – Including a city name, if applicable to your message, did improve open rates.
  3. Avoid repeating subject lines – Repeating the same subject line for each newsletter accelerates the drop in open rates. Although continuity for branding purposes is important, consider variations in your subject line based on the content inside the email.
  4. Subject line length – Keep subject lines to 50 characters or fewer. The exception to this comes when you’re sending highly targeted emails to a list of subscribers who will appreciate the additional information.
  5. A clear “From” line – The “From” line should indicate clearly who you are, and should remain consistent over time so subscribers recognize you.
  6. Promotional emails – As a general rule, promotional emails do not perform as well as valuable and timely informative emails. If you must do a promotional email, avoid splashy promotional phrases, all capital letters, or exclamation points in your subject lines. Subject lines framed as questions are shown to perform better.
  7. List quality and frequency – This is one of the more difficult metrics to track. When readers know what they’re going to receive, they’re more likely to open it. High-quality lists of engaged subscribers tend to see the best open rates. If you start with a good list, but send too frequently, open rates drop quickly.

Mailchimp provides one final piece of advice when it comes to email marketing – “Think about what you would like if you were the recipient … When it comes to subject lines, don’t sell what’s inside. Tell what’s inside.”

Click here to read more about the study, and to see some of Mailchimp’s examples of subject lines with the highest and lowest open rates.

Looking for more strategic email marketing direction? Contact Anna Marie Ricciardi, a member of Skoda Minotti Strategic Marketing.

Our strategic marketing agency is listed in the Mailchimp Experts Directory as an agency that knows Mailchimp like the back of their hand. We help Mailchimp users with the basics (and the not-so-basics) of creating a successful email program.

We can help you determine how an email marketing campaign can fit into your overall strategic marketing plan.

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