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Let’s face it, the subject line is the first opportunity to grab your reader’s attention. A subject line that entices the reader to pay attention may cut through the inbox clutter and help get your message opened, read, and acted upon. You must be creative and tell the story of what’s to come in just a few short words. Seems easy enough, but for many of us, it is a constant challenge.

“Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” –David Ogilvy

Here are a few tips on building great subject lines:

1. Character/Word Count
Keep it short. Period. Litmus suggests subject lines be no more than 50 characters, and we agree. The quicker you can get your point across the better.

2. Use Numbers
Example: 3 Great Tips… This tells the reader that the story might be short but impactful, perfect for the quick read they might have time for. It sets an expectation of what they will get out of reading the email.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency
Example: Your Specialized Offer Ends Today. Give the subscriber a reason to react now will help your conversion rate. Not sure if that’s true? Test it.

4. Use Capitalization Sparingly
ALL CAPS CAN SCARE A READER AWAY. ‘NUFF SAID.

5. Avoid Special Characters
Using special characters like percent signs, dollar signs, etc. can appear spammy and land your email in the junk folder.

6. Use Appropriate Punctuation
Yes, you should use a period at the end of the subject line (if it makes sense to). And, exclamation points can increase your open rate, just be careful not to overuse them.

7. Utilize Preview Text
Think of preview text as an extension of the subject line to continue the story… a second chance to entice the reader to respond.

8. Avoid Click Bait
Avoid sensationalism to get someone to open the email and then be disappointed in the content message. Always keep the subject line relevant to the content delivered.

9. Avoid BORING
Using the same subject line (Example: “Today’s News”) won’t help get your email opened. The same old thing time after time is easy to ignore.

10. Try Emojis
I know, we said avoid special characters, but emojis can be effective if used with the right audience, and not over used. Don’t try making your entire subject line out of emojis and expect the reader to take the time to figure it out. Include a quick (one or two emojis in a subject line) visual to enhance your message.

11. Test
Test to find the best approach. Yes, we’re still preaching utilizing the A/B feature to test your emails. Try this… instead of making a statement in your subject line, try asking a question instead. Example: This week’s weather is going to be hot! Test that subject line against this one: What is this week’s weather going to be like?

And, just because a different approach worked once, doesn’t mean it will always work, which is why that A/B feature can be your best friend.