subject line

How To Go About Writing The Perfect Subject Line


Subject lines are important to your email open rates, and here at DirectIQ, we know that better than anyone else. In fact, whenever someone on our team emails someone else on our team, they always make sure to add caps and a CTA like, “IMPORTANT DECISION,” even when the email is about what we’re going to order for lunch :)But in all seriousness, email subject lines can make or break an email marketing campaign, that’s why our team here at DirectIQ endlessly A/B tests our subject lines each time that our awesome super-duper newsletter is sent out. When it comes to subject lines, there are so many different opinions regarding what makes one successful – and that’s a good thing – because you should look at the various angles from which to construct one before you just shoot a meaningless one out. Before writing this article, our team wanted to make sure that we assessed every aspect of the subject line, so we sat in a circle, ate our lunch, and talked about almost all aspects of a subject line, and how to think about them. That said, here’s our guide to subject lines?Expectations: First think about your subscribers’ expectations, what are they expecting from your newsletter this week, and is it something different to what they expected last week? You shouldn’t assume the position that a week-to-week subject line is always alright, in fact, most of the time it’s better to think of how each subject lines function as a whole each month. Especially as consumers have different expectations month to month? Here are our 3 pillars of expectation:



1) Consider the time/date/month/day

Let’s take the months of November and December as an example: For many email marketers they are considered promotional months due to the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it’s vital for marketers to take full advantage of them ? so, it might be better to lack variation in your email marketing campaigns leading up to Black Friday and Christmas by continuously shooting out promotional subject lines (like 40% off shows at so-in-so, or, promo code available), as doing so would continuously motivate shoppers to do what they do best, shop. Furthermore, when thinking of a good subject line, make sure to cater it to the day that the email is being sent out, so if you send out a campaign on a Friday, you might want to include the word “weekend” in the subject line to make it known to your recipients that the content of your email can impact their weekend activities.



2) Cohesiveness

Make sure that your email subject lines maintain some semblance of cohesiveness? Let’s again think about holiday marketing emails as an example: Weeks before the holiday season, many retailers shootout email subject lines that hint to their recipients that they should look out for amazing promotions in the upcoming weeks. This prepares shoppers’ expectations for the next email, giving them just as much incentive to look and checkout emails for deals during the holidays. Thought the holidays have passed us, make sure to check out these stats to help you advertise correctly for the holidays, as they will surely bring your campaigns to a higher gear for next year! That said, cohesiveness should be something you maintain throughout the year, as it can help build your brand and campaign momentum.



3) Brand/voice

Just like your emails, your subject lines also have a voice. When writing a subject line, it’s extremely worthwhile to consider your brand, and how to create a voice based off that brand. Our brand is educationally based, so our subject lines usually share that value (more on this below). Furthermore, your subject line’s voice relates back to the expectations that your recipients have from each and every one of your campaigns – if you’re brand is known to be funny, then it’s important to be funny? if your brand is goofy, then be goofy, if it’s serious, then be solemn.How DirectIQ implements all three pillars: Firstly, our brand at DirectIQ is educationally based in that we hope they expect to learn something new and valuable from each and every time newsletter we send out. With that goal in mind, we write a subject lines that explain what and why they can learn from our newsletters, for example, “Everything you need to know about anti-spam laws.” Secondly, We maintain cohesiveness through our educational goal by including valuable content that will help marketers make the most of our platform. So with each subject line, our users expect to learn something new that will fundamentally improve their email marketing efforts. Thirdly, we always consider the time we send our newsletter out: Since we and our users know our brand is educationally based, we try to send it out on Monday or tuesday so that it can truly benefit our recipients throughout the week.Now that we’ve shared DirectIQ’s three pillars, let move on and assess subject lines further 🙂


Inciting Subject line words

Did you know that according to a study by Contact Monkey that took a look at 30 million emails, short subject lines can really improve open rates. The study found that a subject line with two words or less can result in an 80% open rate. Furthermore, subject lines “Update,” “Intro,” “Re:” and “Fwd” helped achieve an open rate of 90%. Such words incite one to open the email, because they contain a lot of purpose, making the content of the email feel important.


The From Line

Even before reading a subject line, most people read the “from line” to assess the importance of an email. If a from line doesn’t make it distinctly obvious who a message is from, then most people don’t even make it to the subject line, and therefore they don’t get close to opening the email that’s been sent to them. The from line is key to the subject line’s success. In fact, they work hand in hand and exemplify PDA.



When crafting a subject line, think about how it will appear on a mobile device, especially as studies show that each year more and more people are opening up their emails on their mobile devices. It’s imperative for not just your emails, but also your “from” line and subject lines to be optimized for mobile devices. That means that using emojis might not always be the best idea, as they might not render well on certain email apps and devices. Furthermore, so many purchases are being made on mobile devices these days, so a mobile friendly subject line is now more important than ever before? Did you know: 30.3% of people purchased items on Black friday from their mobile devices, up from 22.5% last year.


A/B Testing, 1,2,3

We can not stress enough the importance of testing subject lines! At DirectIQ, we do it with each and every newsletter that we send out to our user-base, and we want to make sure that our educationally based information gets to our subscribers and helps them run remarkable campaigns. A really awesome resource is Touchstone’s subject line Analyzer. It allows you to submit subject lines and offers real time feedback on how potentially successful they can be.


A Relevant CTA

Keep your subject lines relevant, as relevancy in of itself is a valuable tool to anyone deciding whether or not they want to (or should) open an email. One way to make a subject line relevant is to make sure their is a riveting CTA (Call-to-action), that pushes your subscriber to open their emails. For example, If you’re offering a yoga class, then don’t just say “yoga is here,”  or “yoga class available,” be a bit more proactive and say “sign-up for yoga now.” A CTA isn’t pushy, but rather, it’s a nice way of letting your subscribers know what they’re missing out on. That said, a subject line that sounds impulsive with it’s CTA, will feel impulsive to your recipients that are reading it, and this could lead your message straight to the spam folder — so try to navigate between the fine line of impulsivity and intrigue.


Visual look

The way a subject line looks can be key to helping your emails get opened. Using emojis can certainly add an element of cuteness to your email, and it’s increasingly becoming the new cool thing, but it’s important to consider how the subject line might look on an each and every email client and to each subscriber. Cater the look of your subject line to your audience.


Don’t sound spammy

Spammy subject lines scare away recipients, as recipients know that if something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not (unless it’s from DirectIQ, of course). That said, spammy subject lines are a fast way to have your emails sent directly to the spam folder, or trash. The one thing that your recipients can see through better than a clean window, is spam. On that note, don’t oversell either, because your recipients can sometimes interpret this as spammy behavior as well.


The From line

Your subject line and from line are basically like a couple that always express walk hand in hand expressing PDA. The from line adds context to your subject line – In fact, the from line can sometimes save Spammy subject lines from being thrown straight into the spam folder. That said, it’s imperative that you email marketers make clear who is sending your emails through both the subject line and from lines. We promise this will heighten your open rate and lower your unsubscribe rate. Recipients value honesty more than anything 🙂



At DirectIQ, we highly recommend personalization within your subject line. It’s a great tactic because anything that seems personnel, also seems important. Did you know: Personalized emails deliver a 6x higher transaction rate? the proof is in the pudding.



Now, here’s a great idea: test your emails! You never know how they will look until you test them, so it’s always important to send a test campaign to yourself and make sure that the subject line looks exactly how you’d like it. Or, alternatively, check out this awesome tool offered by our friends at Litmus, it’s their subject line checker, which allows you to preview how your subject line will look on various devices and on various email clients.While many aspects can affect the success of your email marketing campaign, it’s still essential to make sure that you have an awesome subject line – and we hope that our guide to the subject line has helped!If you have the chance, please check out our other educational articles :)1) Everything you need to know about anti-spam laws2) Long emails are not good emails3) 10 tips for designing HTML emails