How to craft email subject lines that convert

9 November 2020

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A well-written subject line could be the deciding factor of whether an email gets your customers attention, or not. There is no equation that fits all for the perfect subject line; writetest and keep on testing. Write for your audiences and you’ll see your open rates increase. Here are some tips on how you can make your subject lines stand out 

Segment your audience

Segmenting your audience allows you to communicate with different customers in different ways. Even if you are sending the same email to all subscribers, you can create custom subject lines for each segment. Find the incentive for each type of customer to open your email. That might be an offer, a new product preview, or an insightful piece of content on your website. 

Long vs Short Subject Lines 

Some may argue that with up to 78% of emails opened on a mobileyou should keep your subject lines short and sweet. However, this actually tends to have no real meaningful impact. If you want to get technical, you can see the statistical research here. By all means test length in your own testing plan, but don’t feel limited to 9 words. Express yourself, see what works with your customers. 

Be descriptive 

It’s easy to use lazy language in your subject lines, particularly when sending seasonal emails. Do you really need to send yet another “Egg-cellent offers” Easter email, or promote your “summer specials”? Help your email stand out in a crowded inbox by avoiding cliche and commonly used phrases or puns. Instead, be descriptive about what your email contains, and recipients will want to see more.  

Begin a subject line with a verb to encourage action and help the customer picture what your email has to offer them. For example, a restaurant emailing their diners might use “Taste our new menu” instead of “New menu available”, placing the emphasis on the customer. 

Personalise sender & recipient names 

An email from won’t achieve the results you’re after. Make sure that your sender name is customised so recipients know who you are. This can either be your company or brand name, or the name of a familiar member of your team which customers will recognise. 

Personalise recipient names to create a connection with individual customers. This can appear in the body text of your email (“Hi Sarah” rather than “Dear Customer”), as well as in your subject line (“Sarah, discover your exclusive discount”).  

Limit punctuation 

Overusing punctuation in the subject line can make your email appear spammy. As well as being off-putting to readers, this could see your email sent to the junk folder. Punctuation also uses up valuable characters, eating into your already limited space. Only use punctuation where it’s necessary: to make your subject line grammatically correct, or to ensure it flows. Use exclamation marks sparingly, and don’t worry about ending your subject line with a full stop. 

Use emojis carefully 

Unity Online Account Manager Millie explains “Emojis can make your subject line more eye catching, but use them carefully”. Consider if emojis are suitable for your brand. Does their colourful and casual form match your brand’s tone of voice? “Remember that emojis display differently across operating systems and email clients too. So if you are planning to use them, test your subject line to check how they will appear” 

Don’t forget the pre-header text 

Pre-header text is the copy visible beneath the subject line on mobile devices, and alongside the subject line on desktop. After crafting a compelling subject line, don’t overlook this field, as it allows extra space to preview the content of your email. Alongside your well-written subject line, this copy could help boost an email’s open rate. 

Test and assess 

A/B testing, also known as split testing, allows you to see which variant of a subject line offers a better open rate. The average open rate for emails across all industries in the UK is just 17.5%, which demonstrates why testing is so important. Testing will provide the data you need to construct better subject lines. Better subject lines equal emails which get opened. And getting your emails opened is the first goal for every email marketing campaign. 

For help developing your email marketing strategy, including support for expertly written email copy, get in touch with Unity Online.  

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