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  • Anita O'Malley

Subject Headlines: Are They Making or Breaking You?

Updated: 7 hours ago

Whether you’re writing an email, a social post, a blog, etc. the trick to get it read is to

think of it as if you're writing a newspaper headline. The good headlines get noticed; they compel you to read on.

3 Tips for creating a good subject line:

  1. Mobile screens are small, so place the most important words first. And keep it short, but not too short! Studies suggest that the most read subject lines contain between 61 and 70 characters.

  2. Use the suspense technique: suggest an issue then give the solution inside the body of the email. Maybe it's "Here's how to beat your competition” or even "The answer to 'this' lies inside this email." Think outside the box---and entice your audience to read on.

  3. Use a real person's name in the “From” field, not a vague sender, like "Sales." An email that appears to be coming from one person to another has a more personal touch and is more likely to be opened.

Lesson from a tree killer insect

Here's how I started to realize how critical subject lines were. I recently received an e-newsletter from a tree care company. It discussed an ash tree-killing insect that is invading the U.S. and offered advice for how to save your trees from extinction. In business for 25+ years, the firm has 20 certified tree experts on staff - they clearly know their stuff.

The sender? "ABC Tree Company"

The subject line? “ABC Tree Care Press Announcement”

How's that for a bland headline and generic sender? A more effective subject line might have been something like:

"Ash tree-killing insects are here -- Tips to save your trees!”

“Save your ash trees from killer bugs!”

“5 ways to prevent your ash trees from death by insect.”


Any of those would have been better signed "From: KathySmith@Treeexperts.com"

The moral of the story? The next time you send an email, think of the readers' first impression. Offer a touch point that feels more personal with a headline that's interesting enough to get your content opened, read and most importantly, acted upon.

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