Your way to the perfect newsletter subject line

by Mareike Juds (CleverReach), 27.03.18



Email marketing is still going strong. In this guest article, our app partner CleverReach provides you with great tips that you can use to boost the success of your newsletters.

Let’s start with what’s most important: Take your time for the subject line!

Professionals recommend spending 50% of your time on creating the subject line and the other 50% on creating the content during the creation process of your newsletter. And they’re right! Your subject line is the reason people open your mailing or delete it unread.

„The perfect subject line“: 3 basics

Today, successful communication is extremely short, stimulating and emotive. As much emotion as possible should be packed into as few characters as necessary. Newsletter subject lines also follow this rule.

1) First things first

  • Not so good: „Today in our shop – awesome fall coats at a premium price!“
  • Much better: „Happy fall coat prices – only today!“

Place the offer – the product, the service, the event – at the beginning of your subject line. Avoid unnecessary („awesome“, „at a“) and obvious („in our shop“) words and phrases that just take up valuable space. The optimal length of a newsletter subject is 20 to 40 characters.

Tip: Make it easier for your newsletter recipients, supply the most important data on a silver platter.

2) Avoid the SPAM trap

Of course, you want to attract attention – but not like a pushy barker. Avoid:

  • Words in CAPITALS
  • several consecutive special characters (especially „!”, „€” or „$”)
  • Emotive words and typical spammy phrases such as „free“, „order today“, „Super special price“

Not one of these elements alone will expose the newsletter to suspicion of being dubious, but a combination of these elements will.

3) Use the correct spelling and grammar

  • „Springprices for gardenfurniture in vintagelook“
  • „Ready for vacation? Last Minute on the Canarys“
  • „We <3 you‘re style: Jeans for the perfect silhouette“

These subject lines are full of mistakes – sometimes more, sometimes less obvious. This will make your recipients think that you are not a very trustworthy sender. Always use a spell checker for your subject line. That definitely pays off.

„The perfect subject line“: 3 tips

1) Speak your target group’s language

Always have a (fictional) target person in mind when you create your newsletters. This helps finding good phrases that move your recipients and entice them to open your newsletter.

Example wool store / Main target group characteristic: female, creative

  • Score with words in your subject line that have a sensual connotation. Newly arrived, lemon-yellow wool could be advertised with: „Lemon-yellow – get refreshed!“ or „Happy lemon! Start spring in a good mood“

Example wine merchant / Main target group characteristic: epicurean, high earner, sophisticated

  • People of this target group invest in quality. They want to know what is special about a wine, so they want to taste it: „The best young winemakers’ wines – perfect for your New Year’s dinner“ or „Newly in: taste the spirit of South Africa“

Example baby products online shop / Main target group characteristic: Happy parents

  • Young parents face new challenges and are often under a lot of pressure. Provide help for their everyday life: „Teething kid? Test winner teething rings that soothe“ or „Teddy, night light & Co.: How your baby falls asleep within seconds“

2) Address your recipients personally

„Dear Emma Johnson, …“  –  when the recipient reads her first and/or last name and she is addressed personally, studies show that she will more likely open the mailing. Even if you don’t know your recipients‘ names there’s always a way to address them „personally“:

  • Namaste, dear yogis => yoga studio
  • To all adventurers and explorers => travel agency
  • Hey gym buddy => gym
  • Hello bookworms => book store, reading group

3) Activate and motivate the recipients of your email!

People are curious. Spice up your subject line with something entertaining or interesting facts – your recipients will love opening your emails. Get inspired:

Ask questions: „Got the Monday blues? Our summer dresses make you feel happy!“

Invent new words: „travel dreams“, „recipe for happiness“, „wood art“, …

Who, how, what, why: „Top 5 reasons why your plants always die“, „Pure skin at last: Read about the beauty routine that helped Julia (22)“

Incorporate phrases, idioms and quotations: „Lady Marmalade: The best preserving recipes from the XY editorial team”, „Sale from 7 am: The early bird catches the worm!“

Use alliterations and rhymes: Porcelain Paradise: Fantastic dishes for your kitchen“, „New trends for your four-legged friends: Bowls & collars in fancy colors “

Next time you brood over a subject line – try some of our tips and spin them. And … take your time – believe us, that helps!

The CleverReach app for ePages can help you to send out engaging newsletters to your customers. You can find it in the App Store in your shop’s administration area, if the app is available in your shop package.

About the author


is working in the Marketing and Communications department of CleverReach.

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