How to write effective subject headers

It might be easy in theory to write a great header but in reality it can be a bit harder.
The first thing to keep in mind when writing a subject header is the content – what’s the email about? Who are you trying to target?

Keep it simple

As a general rule, a good subject line will contain no more than 50 characters. It should also contain a call to action or build a sense of urgency, and it most of all, it should give readers a general indication of what to expect upon opening the email. Subject lines should not be misleading or promotional offers that are not within the email.

Increase open rates using an incentive

People receive countless promotional emails and newsletters, so when you contact someone, you want to stand out. Your subject line is the first impression people will have of your email, so entice them to read more.

Make it fresh and interesting

A company’s first newsletter will tend to start with high open rates, but generally will experience a reduction in time. Repeating a monthly newsletter with the same generic subject line (such as “January eNewsletter”) every month will accelerate the drop in open rates. Whilst it is important to establish continuity, each new campaign should provide an indication as to what inside the email is of interest.
Likewise, if you are sending a campaign with multiple components (for example an initial email, a reminder email, followed by a final reminder), make sure not to recycle the same subject line each time. The same subject line should not be repeated with the word “Reminder” tacked on to the front either. Focus instead on the call to action – what action would you like your audience to take?

Live up to their expectations

The best way to write a great subject header is to tell the audience exactly what they’re about to read. If you’re writing an e-Newsletter, putting the subject header “Look at our new specials” won’t generate as many opens as “May e-Newsletter” because the readers have already signed up for the newsletter so that’s what they’re expecting. Reading very creative and flashy subject headers can confuse the reader and they might unsubscribe if they think it’s spam.