Subject Lines For Newsletters: The Dos And Don’ts

Subject Lines For Newsletters Cover
Ravi Davda Rockstar Marketing CEO

Written by Ravi

Feb 19, 2023

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As a business owner or marketer, you know how important it is to have a solid email marketing strategy in place. But with over 333 billion emails flying around every day, it can be difficult to make yours stand out. That’s where the subject line comes in.

The subject line is the first thing that your subscribers will see when they receive your email, and it can make or break their decision to open it. In fact, according to OptinMonster, 33% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. That’s why crafting the perfect subject line is crucial to the success of your email marketing campaigns.

In this article, we’re going to break down the basics of subject lines for newsletters and show you how to use them to increase your open rates and drive more conversions.

Without further ado, here’s how to nail subject lines for newsletters!

What makes effective subject lines for newsletters?

So, what makes a subject line effective? Here are a few key elements and tips to keep in mind:

Keep it short and sweet

Subject lines that are too long are likely to be cut off in the preview panel or notification (on mobile devices), making them less likely to be read.

So, how long should a subject line be?

Well, according to some 2021 statistics, the most used email clients are Mail on iPhone devices (38.2%) and Gmail (35.6%).

  • The portrait view on an iPhone has a character limit for notifications of 41 characters
  • Gmail has a character limit for subject lines of 70 characters

So, when creating a subject line for a newsletter email, it would be safe to aim for around 50 characters.

As an example, UberEats once sent a newsletter email with the subject line “Take $20 off your order of $25 or more”.

Now, that may not be flashy, but it still sends the message across in a clear manner, and it’s likely to make any hungry customer click.

Use action words

Action words like “Buy,” “Learn,” “Download,” or “Sign up” encourage the subscriber to take action.

Keep in mind that some actions are frowned upon by recipients. For example, according to MailChimp, words related to charitable actions and donations had a negative impact on open rates. So, if you need to ask your recipients for something of that sort, you should ought for alternatives, like “help”, which had the best impact in MailChimp’s analysis.

Don’t forget personalisation

Personalising your subject line with the subscriber’s name, location, preferences, or other pieces of data can help increase open rates by up to 50%, according to a report by Experian.

For example, instead of “thanks for being a loyal customer”, you can use “[FIRST NAME], thank YOU for being a loyal customer!”

Create a sense of urgency

Subject lines that create a sense of urgency can encourage subscribers to open your email right away. Phrases like “Limited time offer” or “Last chance” can be effective for that. After all, when users are scrolling through their inboxes, they’re more likely to open an email to see what they can get if an offer has a known start and end date.

In a study by Campaign Monitor, subject lines with the words “urgent” or “breaking” had a higher open rate than those without.

Here are a couple of simple email subject lines that radiate a sense of urgency:

  • “The timer’s going off on your cart!” by King Arthur Flour
  • “[Action Required] Verify your email address” by Amazon Chime

Include an offer when possible

Here’s the thing; people love getting new things and going through new experiences, especially if that’s not going to cost them a penny. That’s why it’s a good idea to include an offer in your subject line.

Here are some great subject lines for emails with offers. Notice how they use opposite wording to have the same effect on subscribers:

  • “Your free PDF is attached: Great Talks Most People Have Never Heard” by James Clear: a simple subject line that starts with an offer (free PDF) about a topic business subscribers would probably be interested in. Yes, this subject line is indeed obvious, but that’s what makes it work. Not only is the offer enticing, but it’s also clear and memorable
  • “Welcome Gift! Offer Inside 👀…” by EyeBuyDirect: Unlike the previous subject line, this one doesn’t mention what the offer is. Still, it manages to let subscribers know that there’s something for them inside while striking curiosity

Keep it relevant to the content of the email

The subject line should be relevant to the content of the email so subscribers know what to expect and are more likely to open it.

Remember, “fool me once, shame on you” (ironically, the rest of the saying isn’t relevant), so if subscribers open an email and find that it doesn’t match the content of the subject line, they’re more likely to unsubscribe.

Subject lines for newsletters: Use humour

Using a bit of humour in your subject line can make it more memorable and increase the chances of it being opened.

Here are some examples of subject lines that incorporate humour flawlessly:

  • “We Saw You Checking Us Out 😏” by DollsKill
  • “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring” by Warby Parker
  • “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”: we’re especially fond of this subject line because the quip (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve) had us laughing out loud because it was completely unexpected. You start reading, thinking that it’s a typical, boring subject line, just to be hit with a delightful joke. That’s a sure way to attract anyone’s attention.

Create a sense of exclusivity

Using language that creates a sense of exclusivity, such as “VIP access” or “exclusive offer,” can make subscribers feel special and encourage them to open your email. The effect is similar to that of personalisation.

Here are some examples of subject lines that create a sense of exclusivity:

  • “A Sneak Peek for VIPs Only.” By Serena and Lily
  • “Here’s your private invite (Customer’s Name).”
  • “Get your exclusive access today!”

Use emojis (if appropriate)

Emojis for Facebook Ads Cover

Emojis can help your subject line stand out in a crowded inbox and make it more memorable. Just make sure to use them sparingly and only if they are appropriate for your brand.

Here are some email subject lines that use emojis without feeling cheap:

  • “👻 Trip or Treat!” by EF Tours
  • “🔥 Hot freebie alert! 15 free gifts, you pick 5.” By Shutterfly
  • “New recipe alert 🚨” by Hello Fresh

Include numbers when possible

Including numbers and statistics in your subject line can make it stand out and grab attention. For example, “50% off all products this week!”

Subject lines for newsletters: Use A/B testing

Subject lines for newsletters: A/B testing

A/B testing your subject lines can help you determine which ones are most effective.

Try testing different versions of your subject line, such as changing the wording or adding a sense of urgency, to see which one gets the best results.

Common mistakes to avoid in subject lines for newsletters

Common mistakes to avoid in subject lines for newsletters

While there are many things you can do to improve your subject lines, there are also some common mistakes to avoid. These include:

Using all caps or too many exclamation marks

Using all caps or too many exclamation marks can make your subject line look spammy and rude, and it’s a sure way to turn off subscribers.

What you can do is use caps to highlight a single word in a subject line. Check how Dick’s Sporting Good makes use of caps to subtly call out specific words like “BIG”, “MORE”, and “NOW”:

Subject lines for newsletters: Example Dicks Sporting Goods 1
Subject lines for newsletters: Example Dicks Sporting Goods 2

Using spammy words

Some spammy words can activate a subscriber’s spam filter, even if the email is legitimate.

To avoid that, don’t use certain words and symbols like “cheap”, “weight loss”, “cash”, or “£££”. Even if an email with such words in the subject line makes it to a user’s inbox, they’re likely to ignore it or mark it as spam themselves.

Here’s a more comprehensive list of spam words that you should avoid in emails by Active Campaign.

Being misleading in subject lines for newsletters

As mentioned, your subject line should accurately reflect the content of your email. If it’s misleading, it will only lead to a higher unsubscribe rate.

Think about it, your customers’ inboxes probably get flooded with emails every single day. If they open one of your emails and don’t find what they were expecting, they’re more likely to mark it as spam or unsubscribe.

Generic subject lines

Generic subject lines like “Newsletter” or “Monthly Update” are likely to be overlooked and deleted. Instead, be specific, make sure your subject lines are personalised, and use language that will grab your subscribers’ attention by creating a sense of urgency or exclusivity.

Being too long

As mentioned, subject lines that are too long are likely to be cut off in the preview pane, making them less likely to be read.

Let us handle email marketing for you

Crafting the perfect subject line is crucial to the success of your email marketing campaigns. That said, doing so isn’t easy. Thankfully, you don’t need to do it alone. Book a discovery call with us today, and we’ll show you how we can create the perfect email marketing campaigns for your business!

Subject lines for newsletters – FAQs

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