Subject lines can make or break any email campaign.  When you’ve put hours of effort into writing the perfect copy, there’s no doubt that you want your email to be read!

The subject line is the gatekeeper to your marketing success and there are a lot of things  that you can do to increase your conversion rate. No one will open your email if you have a bad subject line, even if your crying for help in the zombie apocalypse. Follow these tips to make sure you — and your campaign — get rescued.

Use Questions

Ex: Did you hear about the outbreak in Chicago?

Asking a question in the subject line intrigues the recipient, increasing the likelihood of the email being opened. A recent study by Mailchimp found that subject lines phrased as questions had a higher open rate than similar subject lines that were phrased as statements. Make sure the question is relevant, though. “Have you seen my baby?” would not be a good example of this. Unless, of course, you have lost your baby. In which case, that subject line will do just fine.

Keep it Short

Ex: The government ordered an evacuation

The same study by Mailchimp concluded that longer subject lines performed worse than shorter ones. Although it’s a good rule of thumb to stay under 50 characters, a 2012 study by Mailermailer discovered that the most successful subject lines were fewer than fifteen characters.

Be specific

Ex: The zombies are coming

Your message should be obvious to the recipient as soon as they read it. Leaving the reader guessing can cause frustration and lead them to delete or ignore the email. When the zombie apocalypse is upon us, you can’t afford to use vague subject lines.

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Make the first sentence of your email count

Ex: Hello, Please send water and supplies, our barricade is starting to give out…

Having a good opening to the body of your email can make up for what your subject line may lack. Intrigue them with something interesting in the first line in the email so that they will be more inclined to open the email.

Create a sense of urgency

Ex: Open me or die.

Maybe that wasn’t the best example, I’m not rescuing you if you threaten me.

Threats are never a good thing, but creating a sense of urgency is. Make them feel like they need to read your email immediately. Lure them in with something exciting and interesting.

Avoid getting caught in the spam folder

Ex: Free vaccinations against the virus. Click here!

The only thing worse than having your email sent to the trash folder by the recipient is to not even make it to the inbox. Try to avoid words like “free” and “help” as they tend to trigger filters and sending your email directly to the spam folder.

Drop hints

Ex: Shovels and household items can be used in a zombie attack

If you’re giving away something important then you should give them a little taste of what’s inside. It will interest them enough to open the email to see the body.

shutterstock_133365614Don’t include first names in subject lines

Ex: Hey Frank, that bite on your arm looks pretty bad…

Believe it or not, using first names in a subject line comes off spammier than keeping it ambiguous. Keep it generic by leaving out their name. Your inbox will thank you.

Make it personal

Ex: I see you are craving human flesh.. I have the perfect victim for you.

We know that putting a name in the subject line doesn’t help your chances of getting that awesome email read, but personalizing it in another way may help. Do a little research on your recipient. See what they like, what they don’t like and reference that information in the subject line. Remember to make this subtle and not creepy.

Don’t use too much punctuation

Ex: They’ve got me!!! I’m bit!!!

Nobody likes getting yelled at, and no one will save you in the apocalypse your SOS is followed by three exclamation points. Leave them at the door when writing your subject line. It looks spammy, and frankly, like you are trying way too hard. Keep calm and don’t look desperate.

Similarly, don’t use Caps Lock


Using all caps is just annoying. I can count on zero hands how many times I have opened an email with a subject line that contained all caps. If you want any chance of having your email read and getting rescued, I would stick to using your inside voice.

Be clever

Ex: Will work for brains…or intestines

A lot of people’s in-boxes are like white noise. You need to be different if you want to be noticed. Get creative with your subject line and maybe even a little funny. Doing this will make you feel more human and entice the recipient to open your email.

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When it comes to writing subject lines, simplicity is the best option. Don’t try to overdo it with superfluous punctuation and lengthy sentences. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient.

Consider which types of subject lines would turn you away, and avoid using them. Using these tips will get you one step closer to your goal, and may even save your life.

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