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Email Subject Lines: 6 Magical Do’s & Don’ts To Increase Your Open Rate

Thu, Feb 08, 2018

Email communication can be a very successful vehicle in getting your message to your customers or potential customers.

However, it’s 2018 and as everyone knows, we get a LOT of emails on a daily basis. Everything from fundraising requests for your favorite political candidates to the latest deals and offers from your local hardware store – our inboxes are flooded with electronic mail.

According to a report by The Radacati Group, last year globally, there were on average 205 billion emails sent and received per day. PER DAY!

So with your customers receiving so many emails each day, how the heck are you supposed to break through all that clutter and get your target to open your email? Everyone knows there’s no magical phrase, a la “open sesame” that can ensure your emails are being opened, so how do we do it?

Effective subject lines, that’s how! So, here’s a list of some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for putting together successful email subject lines.

1. DO – Keep It Short


The majority of emails (over 53% in 2015) these days are opened on a mobile device, and most smart phone email clients have much shorter character limits for subject lines than desktop. A good rule of thumb is to try and keep subject lines to 30-40 characters. A cut off subject line could confuse the reader and cause them to pass it by.

2. DO – Test, Test, Test


It’s always a good idea to do an A/B test. Try different subject lines on portions of your list to determine which performs better before sending it out to the larger mailing list. This is a good reason to brainstorm and come up with multiple options for subject lines. You never know exactly what will resonate with your audience.

3. DO – Ask Questions


Including a question or a call-to-action in a subject line can be very effective. Behavioral science tells us that asking someone about an intended behavior influences them to do it more frequently and possibly induce a purchase — or in our case, open an email. This is called the Mere Measurement Effect.



This one is pretty straightforward. When you use all-caps or exclamation points in a communication piece, it is the equivalent of yelling into someone’s face. That is just rude. Also, spam filters will probably nab you as well.

5. DON’T – Be Spam Bait



Avoid using words like “Cheap”, “Credit” or “$$$” in your subject lines, as these are often caught by spam filters. Also? Don’t use special characters — in particular, exclamation points — as these are big time spam red flags. Instead, try using words such as “Free” or “Now” which are considered “eye-magnet” words because as humans, our eyes are naturally attracted to them.

6. DON’T – Try To Be Clever



Humor can be a very effective strategy in connecting with the consumer — everyone loves those Super Bowl ads — but clever writing belongs in body copy, not in a subject line.

A 2011 study done by AWeber showed that simple, clear subject lines resulted in 541% more response than subject lines that were trying to be funny or clever. Let your reader know exactly what they can expect in the email and they’re more likely to open it.

Cognitive Fluency, a human behavior trigger, also tells us that people prefer to think about simple things over complex things. Simpler subject lines are more easily understood and more likely to be remembered.


Categories: marketing, print industry, mail, content marketing, subject lines, email, spam mail, email marketing






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