Is a Subject Line Important? Are You Kidding? It’s Everything!
I was finishing up a client’s newsletter and it was time to identify a subject line. I generally suggest subject lines, providing several choices which I think will be effective, always hoping I’ll initiate a brain-storming session—that collectively we’ll have an epiphany. Never happens. This client asked me if a subject line is really important. “Are you kidding? It’s everything!”
A subject line is the difference between someone’s opening your newsletter . . . or not
Depending on the size of your contact list, you could be reaching hundreds/thousands of people—or virtually none. And then there’s the viral factor—think about someone’s loving what you’ve written and forwarding it on to a friend or colleague. So yes, while you may have killed yourself putting together an award-winning newsletter that’s well-designed, lively, full of great information and terrific graphics, without a compelling subject line, it’s not going to reach your audience.
It’s always harder to write a little than a lot
The subject line has to be smart, attention-getting, relevant and in good taste, though there’s room for being a little bit edgy. The real challenge is the character limitation—it has to be crisp and succinct, ideally in the 50-character range. A reality check: After you write your subject line, come back after it’s had time to percolate and ask yourself if you’d be tempted to open this newsletter if it hit your inbox. If not–back to work.
Here are some other tips for writing effective subject lines:
- Forget cute and clever. A clear subject line gets 541% more clicks than one that’s clever.
- Words to avoid. These tend to get routed directly to Spam and Trash folders—words like Free, Reminder, Urgent, Save $, etc.
- Fifty characters or fewer. Remember that 60% of users these days are pulling up your email on digital devices. Long subject lines can get cut off.
- Personalization. Are you addressing a particular audience? If so, call out this audience in your subject line. Everyone loves to be recognized.