Subject Line Best Practices

Once an email lands in the inbox, there are 2 pieces of information the recipient uses to determine if they are going open it and read it or just delete it. The first of which is the sender, you. If you have done a good job with your email marketing, and more importantly did a good job closing their mortgage, they aren’t going to think “oh no, not another email from so and so.” Ideally they see your name associated with the email and gladly decide to open it.

The second thing is the subject line. The subject line can make or break your email marketing success, so here are some best practices to keep in mind when considering your email subject line:

  • Less is more. It is widely accepted in the email marketing world that shorter subject lines yield higher open rates. There is no optimal length for the highest open rates, but most agree that 50 characters is a good cap.
  • Expanding on the bullet point above, it is important to note that some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will chop off any part of your subject line that is above 50 characters. Take the following 57 character subject line example: Do you sometimes think you need a new branding assistant? I will let you count the characters yourself to see what happens when the last 7 characters get chopped off to take it down to 50, you end up with a word you probably don’t want to include in your subject line. Now your email is probably going directly to the SPAM filter, and if anyone does see it you look like a fool. This particular example is pretty extreme, but you can see how words getting cut off in the middle might not be a good thing in a lot of other situations.
  • Again expanding on the first bullet, take into consideration people checking your email on their phone. I just checked my iPhone as I am writing this article and I only see the first 25 characters of the subject line, then dot dot dot (…). I would wager most other phones actually display even less. So now let’s see another example of how this can be less than ideal. If you have a 53 character subject line Governor Orsini comes out in favor of anti-widget legislation, and it is truncated down to the first 25 characters for all iPhone users, want to know what subject line you just sent to a bunch of people? Governor Orsini comes out… So you can see where both of these 2 subject lines convey 2 completely different messages and can determine how many people decide to click open vs. delete. Again this is a pretty extreme example but you get the point.
  • DON’T GO CRAZY WITH CAPITALIZATION – SPAM filters generally frown upon that and you can land in the junk mail folder.
  • Don’t go crazy with exclamation points or other punctuation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SPAM filters also frown upon that and you can land in the junk mail folder.
  • Monitor trends in junk mail you get yourself and just use common sense to make sure your subject lines don’t look like theirs. SPAM filter rules are constantly changing to keep up with the SPAMers, so keeping a pulse on what those subject lines read like will help avoid you inadvertently being marked as “one of them”.
  • And of course the same keywords you try to avoid in your email body should be avoided here. And yes, unfortunately that includes using the word mortgage.