Need marketing? Click to see how you can save $30,000 next year.

How to Write a Winning Subject Line for Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Did you know that the typical business professional receives 81 emails on average, daily?! That’s a lot of email to sift through, and as a marketer, you want your email to be opened versus sent immediately to the trash or worse, marked as “spam”. So what can you do to differentiate your emails from the rest? Focus on writing a winning subject line. The subject line that you assign to your email will be the first (and possibly only) impression that your prospective reader will have of your brand, so you’ll need to offer a convincing reason why your email is worth opening.
There is definitely an art to coming up with a stellar subject line for your email marketing campaign, and it’s most certainly a skill that not every person has. To help you increase your open rate and be more successful with your email marketing strategy, we wanted to share the following best practices for writing winning email subject lines:

Avoid Using These Three Words
“Help”, “percent off”, and “reminder”. In a study conducted by MailChimp, these three words negatively impacted open rates significantly more than others. While they might not trigger a spam filter, your audience may mentally code emails that contain these words in the subject line as spam. It’s also important to note that marketers are often tempted to use the word “free” in a subject line; however, free offers are often too good to be true, and more often than not, emails that include the word “free” in the subject line are automatically filtered as spam. Try something specific to the customer that’s based on their habits. For example, if you know that a select group of subscribers purchased product “A” in the past, you know they might be most interested in products and/or information that would be closely related. Try to tune into that with your subject line.

Include a Geographic Reference
Email personalization is an excellent way to help your email campaigns stand out. While some marketers use the recipient’s name in the subject line, including a city name instead has been shown to improve open rates even more. By geo-targeting your subject lines, your subscribers are more likely to recognize an email from you as more than just junk or spam.

Keep It Short
A common question we are asked is how long a subject line should be. As a rule of thumb, make a point to not include more than 50 characters in your email subject lines. According to an infograpic put together by Litmus, emails with 28 to 39 characters in the subject line have the highest open and click-through rates. If you write complex and lengthy subject lines you can bet the reader will assume the content of the email is the same.

Punctuation in Subject Line
To avoid sounding spammy, don’t use all capital letters when writing your email subject lines or include too many exclamation points. Typically, when subject lines are phrased as questions, they earn a higher open rate. Think about what your audience’s needs are and their hot points when coming up with a relevant question for your subject line. With the use emojis on the rise, it’s also important to note that these symbols and special characters are also not ideal to use in your subject line as it can make your email appear to be spam.

Try Exciting Phrases
Use punchy words and phrases such as “5 powerful tips” or “3 cutting edge secrets” to make the information contained in your email appear exciting and hard to resist reading. While creating a sense of urgency for readers to open your email is ideal, you want to be sure not to overdo it. Try never to use email to pressure someone to buy something you are just assuming they’ll want.

Some marketers think they are clever by preceding an email subject line with “Re” and “Fwd” as it gives the impression that it’s coming from a trusted friend or colleague. This is a very poor email marketing practice, though, as it’s deceptive and often causes your audience to lose trust of your brand and will land your business on black-lists.

As you are trying to come up with a winning subject line for your next email marketing campaign, think about what would appeal to you as the recipient. Too many marketers feel the need to sell what’s inside the email, which often results in spammy email subject lines. Instead, simply use your headline to tell your audience what is inside the email. We think you’ll be much more pleased with your open rates by taking this approach.

Looking for fully managed email campaigns that are creative, compelling, and get opened? Stop by our Email Marketing services page and send us a note, we’d be happy to help!

Need marketing? Get 5x the work at 10x the quality, for 1/2 the cost with an agency.

press R to restart | press X to quit
Game Over


Offices DeLand, Orlando, and Tampa

Monday thru Friday
9am – 5pm EST

Click here to schedule a digital or in-person consultation.


126 N Woodland Blvd

Suite A
DeLand, FL 32720

By Appointment Only

Top Digital Marketing Agency in Deltona


300 S Orange Ave

Suite 1000
Orlando, FL 32801

By Appointment Only

Top Digital Marketing Agency in Orlando


615 Channelside Dr

Suite 207
Tampa, FL 33602

By Appointment Only

Top Digital Marketing Agency in Tampa

1 Average median salary in Florida for ‘Marketing Director’, based on research by Glassdoor. 2 Retirement calculated at 3% contribution, based on research by 3 Health premium average calculated by ranges provided from a 2016 Health Benefits survey. 4 Total employee average calculated at first year and includes the following considerations: $4k onboarding and training, $1k software and subscriptions, and $3.75k outsourcing help. Total agency average based on Florida-located, full-service agency.