How to Write the Subject Line of a Marketing Email


How much time do you spend thinking about the subject line of your emails before you send them out? Hopefully, you spend a good while thinking about it because it’s more important than the body of the email, by far.


Think of It as a Blog Post Headline

Marketers these days are focusing a lot of their energy on blog content, written as well as video, and we all realize at this point that the headline of a post is one of the most crucial elements of the content, if not the most crucial.

Within seconds, the headline is what will make the recipient decide to either click through, or ignore the post. Marketing emails are less popular now, but they are still used because they still convert. The subject line of an email is equally important.


Would You Click On It?

We’ve harped on this many times in this blog: You have to put yourself in the user’s shoes. Simply enough, if you saw your email pop up in your inbox, would you open it? It’s actually incredibly difficult to get a stranger to click on your marketing email, due to the following point.


Understand They are Predisposed to View It Negatively

When you send out a marketing email, you are effectively a solicitor who is no different from a telemarketer placing a cold call to a lead; it’s just a different medium.

And in the same way as a cold sales call, the first thing you say in your subject line is going to either intrigue the recipient enough to say, “I’m listening…,” or make them trash it on sight.


Don’t Act Like You’re Their Friend

Arguably one of the biggest mistakes that email marketers make is when they give the subject line an over-familiar tone. The goal of this approach is obviously to endear the person to you, but it ends up usually having the exact opposite effect.

When you open with, “I thought you would like this,” it’s going to be offensive to most people. You’re better off taking a more straightforward approach to avoid alienating someone right off the bat.


It Should Reflect What’s in the Email (and Be Honest)

It’s a good policy to avoid misleading the recipient whenever possible and instead write a subject line that actually describes what they are going to see in the email. The bait-and-switch is futile with this medium because they’re just going to close out the email as soon as they see that you lied to them.


What’s in It for Them?

Why should this person open your email? There is presumably something that they will get out of this deal if you’re asking them to give you something.

What are they getting? If you can communicate what it is concisely and provocatively in the subject line, then the likelihood that they will click will be much higher.


This is a Marketing Email.

Although not many marketers would even attempt this, it’s worth a shot. People always respect real honesty. You may be surprised how many people would click if they came across a subject line that says, “We want to sell you something” (or something much better than that). It’s surprising, unconventional, and almost funny (almost).




Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

StephanieHow to Write the Subject Line of a Marketing Email