Kate introduced our “Email Trick or Treat?” series last week with a tricklarger lists don’t always mean better lists. But what about subject lines? How do they affect your delivery?

This tip is going to be a TREAT courtesy of Jacob Hansen from our delivery team and Victor Amin from our Big Data team. In Jacob’s 5 Common Email Misconceptions video (below) he shares that getting creative in your subject lines may not be as dangerous to your delivery as it used to be. While using words like “free” and special characters like exclamation points may trigger spam filters, they might not land your email in the spam folder.


Take some chances

More and more lately we’re seeing marketers getting ambitious with their subject lines. Just the other week I received an email with music emojis bookending the subject line and now I’m consistently seeing smiley faces used to punctuate the end of subject lines. I would have seen these as risky moves a year ago, but now I see them as risks worth taking. It’s inevitable that the more we communicate via text and Snapchat, the more the practices from those platforms will bleed into our email communication.

Is using them the most professional way to grab your recipients’ attention? Probably not. And as a writer, do some of these changes make me cringe?? YES! But your recipients are probably used to seeing these characters on a regular basis. So why not test them out and see if what resonates with your recipients via text, also resonates with them via email.

Test your creative limits…with one caveat

I’m emphasizing the word test because what works for one audience won’t always work for another. So I can’t definitively say whether you should/shouldn’t use smiley faces and exclamation points in your subject lines. The only way to know is to give it a try.

However, (there’s always a “but” right?) one risk you might not want to test is using hashtags in your subject lines. Victor Amin and his Big Data team recently performed analysis on 5 million unique subject headers in nearly 18 million emails sent through SendGrid. When they analyzed subject lines containing hashtags, they saw that they resulted in poor engagement (opens/clicks)— subject lines that had a single hashtag had average engagement rates of 10.5% compared to engagement rates of 17.2% from those without hashtags.

So consider those stats before embracing the #trickortreat trend this Halloween. But, in the spirit of the holiday, don’t be afraid to have some other fun with your subject lines. Test out your creative subject lines with a small (but significant enough) portion of your list and closely monitor your delivery rates. Your results may surprise you!

Stay tuned to the blog for more email tricks and treats leading up to Halloween and be sure to check out Jacob’s video above and read more of Victor’s subject line analysis here.

As Twilio SendGrid's Sr. Director of Content, Jillian is responsible for ensuring that SendGrid provides valuable thought leadership content through the blog, whitepapers, webcasts, and more. When not writing and editing, you can find Jillian frequenting Denver restaurants in search of the best queso.