How to Write a Good Email Subject Line – Birds on the Blog

How to Write a Good Email Subject Line

Email marketing is still one of the best ways to keep in-touch with your followers, your fans and potential customers.

You may have 100s or 1,000s followers on social media but remember, the platform can disable or close your account at any time. However, you own your list of contacts, and this data is very valuable. These contacts are individuals who have agreed to be added to your distribution list, either because you have met these people, or because they have downloaded or accessed something you offered and that they wanted.

You should keep in-touch with these subscribers by sending regular updates or newsletters, information your followers will find useful and benefit from, hints and tips that they can action and implement, or special offers.

However, although you may have lots to say in the body of the email, a good subject line is necessary to encourage the recipient to actually open the message in the first place.

Do you look at your email marketing stats and analytics? Check the bounces, open rates and click-throughs etc? Do you try A/B split testing of different subject lines to ascertain which create the best engagement? You should…

Here are a few things to consider before sending emails and updates via email marketing:


Ensure that the ‘sent from’ email address is personal, a name that your subscribers will recognise. eg  nancy@ rather than info@, enquiries@ or sales@ etc. If necessary, change the sender in the settings of your chosen email marketing platform.

Also, make the subject line personal. When a subscriber sees their name in the subject, or perhaps reference to their home-town, they react with pleasure to this personalisation and are more likely to open the message. eg  “We’d love your feedback, Jayne!” and “Special offers for residents in Hull”. Most email marketing applications will enable this by adding {$name} in the subject line. However, don’t use this every time you send an email, as over-use will dilute the effect.


Avoid using “Good morning/afternoon/evening” as it may not be morning, afternoon or evening by the time your email reaches the recipient or when they open it.  They may also be in a different time-zone, so it’s best to avoid this both in the body of the email and Subject line.


Consider your audience and ensure you are crafting a message that’s specific to their needs and expectations, their interests and desires. Remember that people receive many emails and likely scan down their inbox, so get to the point quickly! Even better, group or segment your contact list by interest or audience behaviour, so very targeted emails can be sent.


Use the analytics to find out on what device your recipients read their emails. Many are likely to do-so on a mobile device which will cut-off the text at around 40-50 characters. Therefore, instead of a long subject line, be succinct and use the pre-header text (shown just underneath, usually in fainter or greyed-out text) for a longer description of up-to 140 characters.

So how do you write a great subject line?

Be specific

Put the most important information at the beginning. This will also avoid the details being cut-off on some mobile devices. eg  if you have a sale then “Spring Sale: Get 50% off our range of Winter dresses” will attract attention much better than “Winter dresses are 50% off in our Autumn Sale”.

Numbered lists

Open rate data does show that emails with numbers and lists are more likely to be accessed than not. eg  “Top 10 reasons to open this email” and “10 things every marketer should know”.


People love to answer questions as you may have seen by the various social media posts, especially Facebook memes…. eg  “Are you making these 6 SEO mistakes?” and “Would you like to improve your open rate?”.


Tease subscribers by starting a story in your subject line so they want to click through to read more. eg  “Why my first business failed” and “This felt like a good idea at the time…”

Thank You

Recognise the support of your audience and thank them, perhaps with a special offer. eg  “Thank you for sticking with me! Check inside for a special giveaway!” or “We are so Thankful for YOU”.

Create urgency

Inform your recipients of any deadline or expiration date to your offer. eg  “You’ve got ONE DAY to watch this” or “Final chance for free access!”

Pain points

What are your subscribers’ pain points? Mention these in the subject line and then expand in the body of the email. eg  “Why your email open rates are slipping…” or “3 Rules for Marketing During a Crisis”.


Sometimes providing very clear direction and call to action will work as people tend to follow commands. eg  “Stop wasting money on toner” or “Before you write another blog post, read this”.


If your recipients are curious when reading the subject line, then they will want to find out more. eg  “It felt like a good idea at the time…” or “So we did something crazy”.

Ask for help

People love to help and to show their knowledge so ask your followers for their assistance. eg  “Got a minute? Help us improve our products” or “From zero to 10, how did you find our service?”.

Use humour

Depending upon your audience, humour may work. eg  “SAAALE! Extra 40%! Sorry for yelling!” or “Great, yet another email!”.

Be human

People buy from people, so show your/your team’s personality from time-to-time so your audience begins to better know and connect with you. Go behind the scenes in your office, share a few details about your hobbies or pets etc.

Don’t Spam

Don’t write all the words in capital letters, use just one word, write a long subject line, too many explanation marks!!!!, or repeated symbols $$$$$ etc. Avoid spelling mistakes too as email providers are likely to class these kind of errors in messages as spam.


Do take care with emojis. They can be used, but consider which icons are appropriate and experiment with split campaigns to ascertain if they are acceptable to your recipients. Younger audiences tend to positively respond to emojis.


Take a little time to research keywords that convert and those that don’t! Google this as there are a number of blogs and articles which list examples of these.

Day-to-day emails

Now, this blog has been about messages sent via email marketing platforms, but think about the subject lines of all emails that you send. Try to make these a specific as possible so the recipient knows at a glance what the message is about. For example “Meeting on Fri 01.10.21” is better than “Our meeting”, or “Follow-up to Sept strategy discussion” instead of just “Follow-up”. I often update the subject line when replying to an email, especially if I’ve been copied-in and need to take action, or if there are already many messages in the same trail and showing in conversation view. This will break the chain for any future messages received and sent and I can see at a glance which email relates to what without needing to open each message to find out.


Nancy Benn VA:

About the Author Nancy Benn

As a versatile Virtual Assistant with more than a decade of experience, I help overwhelmed business owners achieve more by assisting with those essential, but time-suck admin tasks that don't directly generate any income or bring in new sales. By providing flexible admin support, I assist and encourage entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they love in their business and what will generate new revenue by identifying tasks that can be delegated and outsourced. Operating virtually, I can work online from anywhere with good Wifi! Initially based on the Notts/Derbys border, since Autumn 2017 I’ve provided seamless assistance and support to entrepreneurs from 12 different homes in Portugal and Spain. After travelling for two years, hubby Rob and I now live next to the Med amongst the orange groves in Valencia, sharing our lives with two dogs and a parrot.