Email Subject Lines: Word Count


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email subject linesEmail subject lines are arguably your first chance to make a good impression. If you say the right words, you’re more likely to get an email open and a click if your content follows suit. A recent study by Retention Science cracks the subject line code by analyzing over 260 million delivered emails.

What they found is that subject lines with:

 

  • 6 to 10 words yielded the highest open rates at 21%.
  • 5 or fewer words yielded an open rate of 16% .
  • 11 to 15 words had open rates of 14%.

Incidentally, 52% of emails fell in the last category. Here’s their chart:

Retention Science email subject lines

Subject Line Relevancy

Given that less means more, you should definitely choose your words wisely. But subject line relevance is probably more important than the number of words you use. Here are several tips to help you craft a winning subject line.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking a question in your subject line can pique curiosity especially if your question promises the answer to a particular problem.

Email subject line examples 1

  • Don’t be vague. The old bait and switch will not earn you any points with users. So, make sure your subject line directly correlates to the content inside the email.

Email subject line examples 2

  • Don’t be impersonal. Where appropriate, injecting a few personal details into a subject line can capture a reader’s attention. Retention Science found that using a user’s name is a safe way to go, but we suggest also trying to step up your game with details like reservation numbers, past purchases, or location information that will make your reader feel like this message was customized for them.

Email subject line examples 3

  • Don’t be boring. Subject lines are like headlines. Make them interesting and exciting. Again, your goals is to pique their interest.

Email subject line examples 4

  • Don’t make it all about you. The point of any email is to appeal to your user. Therefore, make sure the content is targeted in nature so that users don’t feel like they’re part of a batch and blast campaign.

Email subject lines examples 5

  • Don’t use a one-and-done strategy. Testing your subject lines is a great way to find out what is most effective. You can test subject length and subject content.

For more strategies on testing and optimizing your email campaigns, watch our webcast: Make Transactional Email Your Superhero: Keys to Optimization and Testing Success and reference our top 8 tips here. To read the full Retention Science article, click here.


Carly Brantz is a veteran in the email deliverability space working to make email simple and easy for developers by regularly writing whitepapers, research briefs and blog posts about email, technology and industry trends.

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