Top 7 Things to Avoid in Your Subject Lines

3 min read
Jul 6, 2015 2:33:28 PM

Email marketing isn’t the new and exciting idea that it once was. With so many companies using email to market their products and services – and so many recipients sending those emails to the trash unread – writing a message that catches your audience’s eye is a feat. There are several steps to writing better emails that can help you engage your audience, but few of these steps are as crucial as writing an effective subject line. Not only is it the first impression your email makes, but surveys also found that anywhere from 33% to 64% of people open emails based solely on how interesting they find the subject line. With so much riding on so little text, it's important to know what attracts your customers  and what drives them away. Here are the 7 biggest things to avoid when writing your email subject lines:

1. Wordy Writing
When you’re trying to get your audience’s attention with an email, it’s tempting to throw tons of information in the subject line. But, in practice, that doesn’t work very well. A MailChimp study found that longer subject lines aren’t as compelling as the shorter ones – fewer than 50 characters is the most effective length. Keep your subject lines concise and to-the-point to get your email the good kind of attention. 

2. Subject Line Recycling
The only thing harder than coming up with the perfect subject line for an email is coming up with a bunch of perfect subject lines for a bunch of emails. Once you have one catchy, enticing subject, it seems clever and efficient to reuse it for all the other emails in the same campaign. In reality, though, repetitive subject lines bore your audience quickly – and sometimes they confuse recipients into thinking they were sent the same email twice. Always use new subject lines for your emails so that you keep your open rates high. 

3. Certain Specific Words
Most email marketers know that there are certain words you need to avoid to get past email spam filters. For instance, using “free” is an effective way to land your email in a spam folder, destined to disappear without ever being read. (Definitely avoid the word “free.”) But the MailChimp study I mentioned earlier also identified three other words that hurt your email’s chance of being read: “help,” “percent off,” and “reminder.” For some reason, these words signal to recipients that this email belongs in the trash. To keep your emails from being discarded, avoid putting these words in the subject lines of your emails. 

4. Virtual Shouting
Using all caps and lots of exclamation points might seem to you like a great way to express your excitement, but to your customers, it comes across as being yelled at. And, unsurprisingly, yelling at your customers to buy your product typically does more harm than good. Regular capitalization and punctuation can still convey excitement, and they’re much less likely to alienate your audience. 

5. Excessive Emoticons
Emoticons are great for adding some flair to your personal correspondence, but aren’t so wonderful in marketing emails. Sure, they stand out, and they can even be pretty cute sometimes (I personally love Gmail’s little animated crab). But, overuse them and your customers will be tearing their hair out. Plus, a lot of less reputable emails (think 419-type scams) have subject lines with emoticons, and you don’t want to associate your company with those types of emails. 

6. Typos
Spelling and grammar mistakes are the bane of a content writer’s existence. Luckily, we have all kinds of tools to combat them – the help of grammar guides, editors, and, of course, spellcheck. But sometimes, email subject lines don’t get the same scrutiny as the body of the email, and mistakes slip through. It happens to everybody, but even a tiny, silly mistake can have a huge impact on how credible your email seems. 

7. Mistaken Identity
Speaking of silly mistakes, be careful when using personalization in your emails. Personalization can be a powerful tool, but only if done right. If you segment emails to better target your audience, you have to be completely sure that you have the right information. Nobody will take seriously a personalized email with the wrong name, or a localized email that lists the wrong location. 

So, if you want your emails to make a bigger and better impact, watch out for these 7 things to avoid in your subject lines!

Looking for other ways to attract more customers? Check out these lead generation tips and tricks!
lead generation tips, tricks, ideas

Get Email Notifications