An amusing lesson in email subject lines

By Kim Farrow

Email marketers have a few golden rules when it comes to email subject lines.

For instance:

  • Avoid words or extra characters that can make your email look like spam (like eight exclamation points).
  • Keep subject lines to 50 characters or less.
  • Don’t make false promises or mislead the reader.

But even the most experienced email marketers can make mistakes when it comes to subject lines.

A minor mistake
I learned an admittedly funny lesson in email subject lines earlier this month, when I sent the link for an interesting article to other team members. Let’s see if you notice the snafu:

Did you spot it?

The headline of the article was “The Transformative Effect of a Well-Built Brand Statement”. But with the character limits on one team member’s email client, the subject line read: “The Transformative Effect of a Well-Built Bra…”

An article worth reading for many, but VERY different from the intended message.

The point of this blog post (besides giving everyone a good laugh): When you’re working on subject lines for your marketing emails, think about the character limits on most email clients. Will your subject line be cut off? If so, could the cut-off point potentially change the message, tone, or even the reader’s perception of your email?

Email marketing resources
If you’re not sure where to start with email subject lines, check out these helpful free resources.

  • CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
    This is a great tool for any kind of content you plan to write – marketing emails, eNewsletter articles, blog posts, or general webpages. Specific to email, CoSchedule will show you how your subject line will appear on most email client previews, which usually have a 20 character limit.
  • MailChimp
    Even if you don’t use MailChimp to send emails, they provide useful tips for creating email subject lines that get readers to open. If you do have a MailChimp account, you can use their Subject Line Researcher in their Campaign Builder.
  • Adestra Email Subject Line Keyword Checker
    This tool allows you to select your sector, then test certain keywords for open rates and click-through rates.


Other email marketing blogs to check out:


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