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The Dos and Don'ts of Subject Lines


Subject lines – we see hundreds of them every day. Some are great, and some are quite frankly terrible. Some marketers will try almost anything to get you to open their emails, and I for one have left my many “free iPads” unclaimed.

I’ve yet to win anything from the thousands of weird and wonderful websites which have managed to get my email address.

Subject lines are hugely important in email marketing. Get it right, and you can ensure that your email stands out in the inbox and is opened. Get it wrong, and regardless of how brilliant the content of your email is, you cannot guarantee that people will read it.

So with an ever increasing amount of emails arriving in our jam-packed inboxes, how can you make sure your subject line stands out? I’ve compiled my list of Dos and Don’ts which will help you get a leg up in the saturated inbox.


  • Be clear and concise – The average person spends around 5 seconds scanning your email in their inbox, so make sure yours is to the point.
  • Keep it short – Best practice character length for subject lines is 45-60. Any longer runs the risk of being cut off, especially on mobile devices.
  • This time it’s personal – Studies have found that open rates increase if content is personalized. Something simple like including the recipient’s first name can add that personal touch and help you stand out.
  • Split test – The changing room of the email world. Split testing allows you to try before you send. Don’t be afraid to be a little punchier with your split tests. Throw a curve ball in there to see if a change of tact can offer some better clicks or open rates. We actively encourage the use of puns in emails but that’s just pun company's opinion.
  • Review your preview – Not strictly part of the subject line but nonetheless important. Make sure that your pre-header text is relevant and gives the recipient a nice teaser of what’s instore for the rest of the email.


  • Include the word Newsletter – An Adestra study found that including the word ”Newsletter” in your subject line led to an 18.7% decrease in open rates – try something different.
  • USE ALL CAPS – We’ve all been there, we have some great news that we want to share with our clients. Whatever you do, don’t use all caps in your subject line. No doubt it will make you stand out but for all the wrong reasons. Your email will most likely end up straight in Deleted Items.
  • Recycle subject lines – Make sure you change up your subject lines. Don’t rehash the same subject every week or month. You want your recipients to know that you have fresh relevant content that they simply must read!

If you follow some of these dos and don'ts, you'll stay on the right track and be well on your way to maximizing your open rates.


Concep is a marketing technology company dedicated to enabling clients to nurture high value relationships. They support the professional services industry providing email and event solutions that increase engagement, bringing real results to relationship marketing and business development activities. Click here for more information.

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