3 Micro-Tips For Improving Your Email Newsletters’ Subject Lines

Filed under: Online Marketing

Note: Today's article is targeted at businesses who send out (or plan to begin sending out) email newsletters to their customers and/or potential customers.


While marketers besiege our inboxes with thousands of emails/email newsletters each week, only a small percentage of those emails are ever opened.

So why do some business's email newsletters get opened at astronomically higher rates than those of other businesses?  

It often has to do with the email newsletters' subject lines. 

The Nielsen Norman Group has conducted research on this subject and offers simple tips about email subject lines you can implement immediately to begin improving the open rates of your email newsletters. 

Micro-Tip #1: Be crystal clear + simple

Many marketing professionals think that making their subject lines somewhat vague or generic will entice recipients to open their emails.

In fact, research shows that the exact opposite is true.

So, quite simply: be clear, straightforward and specific.   

For example, the Word of the Day emails from WhatIS.com—which have exceptionally high open rates—provide the word of the day right in the subject line, like this:

Word of the Day: COPE


Recipients know what they're getting. Straightforward, obvious, crystal clear.

Micro-Tip #2: Don't be vain, exclude your name

You have a limited amount of space for your emails' subject lines—about ~40 characters—that will be displayed in your recipients' email inbox views.

Because of such incredibly limited real estate, if you already have your company name in the sender information, don’t repeat it in the subject line.

For example, let's say your business is XYZ Company.  If your business's name is already displayed in the “From” line, don’t have your subject line read:

XYZ Company | Funny Video of Cat

Instead, omit your company name:

Cat Chases Fly Around Room

The second option is more descriptive, interesting, and you're not wasting valuable real estate with your company name, which is information that's already displayed in the “From” line.

Micro-Tip #3: Skip the special characters

We've seen it.

And it's usually not pretty.

We've seen businesses (and even our own clients) trying to add emphasis or interest to their emails' subject lines by using special characters. (Think stars or, even worse, hearts.)

The problem here is that many people's email programs don't display special characters correctly, if at all. 

The example below shows what an email from Carter's looks like to a standard recipient; note the problem where the hearts were supposed to be displayed: 

broken email image

Skip the special characters and stick to clear, compelling language.


And that's it for today, everyone. Three simple tips you can start using immediately to increase the open rates of your emails and email newsletters. Enjoy!