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Subject Lines - Making a good first impression

Last updated by Rich Orr on November 07, 2016 16:04

With billions of emails flying around and hitting our email clients each day, whether that is your Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail or even Thunderbird inbox/junk folder, it's getting harder and harder to get your message noticed or even into the right folder!

People try all sorts of tactics to get noticed, from ALMOST SHOUTING AT PEOPLE IN THE TEXT THAT THEY USE or Offering Massive Discounts to Buy NOW!!!!!!!!! but will these kinds of tricks and tactics really get you the attention that you want and deserve? Or will they lead you into the depths of the dreaded junk folder?

Email marketing is about ticking as many boxes as you can in order to satisfy the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and the companies who deliver the emails, as well as making sure you get your message across. Below are some tips and things to avoid in order to stay on that path to the inbox.

1. Don't write a subject line that's longer than War and Peace

Quite often people will try and cram in so much information into the subject line, in the hope that it will get people to open the email or come and buy from them - however, the simple truth is, a subject line is like tweeting, you only have a limited number of characters before you get cut off. Our tip to the length of your subject line is to keep it to no more than 25 to 35 characters long. Anymore than that and it will be cut off and won't look right.

Here's an example - 

The subject line should read "This subject line is great and will have the impact that I want!"

Here's what it came out like -




As you can see, not quite the impact that we would want

2. Avoid using too many CAPITAL LETTERS

People often say that doing everything in block captials is as if you are trying to shout with words. Yes it will make an impact and get your message our there.....shame it could land it in the junk folder. 

Spam filters for email clients look at two things when it comes to subject lines: -

A - The Capital to Non-Capital ratio - This is where they look at the length of your subject line and then how many capital letters there are. If in a subject line that only contains 38 characters (that includes the spaces) and 8 of them are capitals, that means that more than a fifth (22% to be precise) of your subject line are capitals. Something the email clients will not like! The higher that percentage the more they will frown upon it!

B - The use of Capitals NEXT to each other - This goes hand in hand with the capital to non-capital ratio, when too many capital letters occur one after another there is a bigger chance that your email will be marked as spam by the ISP.

3. Use punctuation sparingly!!"!@:><?

We sometimes get a little over excited when putting subject lines together and start throwing in as many commas, exclamations even question markets - all in the name of trying to get people to open up the amazing email we have just put together. Whether it's a subject line simply saying "Check out this amazing offer!!!!!!!" or "Can you really afford not to open this??", it is all too much.

Subject lines should be simple, direct and more importantly relevant to the main body of the email, punctuating it like there is a once in a lifetime sale on exclamation marks and you will never be able to use them again. If you really need to punctuate your subject line - do it sparingly

4. Avoid spam words

Probably the simplist and the hardest peice of advice we can give. It's obvious that you should avoid using spam words....but which words are spam words? We've put a list together of all of the "Offer", "Massive" spam words in order to help you with this one - click here to check that list out

So that's our quick and simply guide to subject lines and what to avoid doing. To recap - 

1. Keep it simple
2. Keep it to the point
3. Keep it relevant