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Master Your Subject Lines in 49 Characters or Less

Email messages are the steam engine behind much of your marketing these days. They’re cheap, they’re fast, and . . . they’re completely ineffective unless recipients open them and act on the message.

Recipients are tempted to open messages, in large part, based on what they encounter in the subject line.

Your subject line is almost more important than the content of the email. If the message is never opened, you might as well have not sent it.

To the point: The purpose of your email subject line is to get the recipient to open the email. It’s not a space-filler and should never be an afterthought. You can’t take a subject line for granted. Follow these 7 tips for better subject lines.

1. Make it personal.

Think about your subscribers and readers. Which ones are your strongest prospects? Which are your loyal collectors?

Write directly to these people as you’re crafting your message and your subject line by opting for the words You and Your over Me, My and Mine as much as possible. Write to them in a conversational, authentic tone.

The words You and Your are powerful. Did you notice how many times I’ve used them in this article? I’m writing to you, not for or about me. Examples of You-centered subject lines include the following.

  • It won’t be a party if you’re not there
  • Can’t wait to show you the 3rd photo from the left
  • Picture yourself sipping wine and looking at art

2. Be specific.

Don’t use the same subject line for every email to your list. If we see the subject line News from Diane Jenson’s Studio every month in our inboxes, we begin to think it’s the same message over and over again.

You want readers to know that there is unique content in each message. Using the same subject line for every email masks the value of the individual messages.

If you’re promoting a particular event in your email, use the location of the event in the subject line.

  • Just 1 of 82 artists in Breckenridge next weekend
  • Chocolate and art in New Orleans Nov 5

Or use the title of a specific work instead of simply acknowledging “new work” in general. These two examples use titles from real-life artwork.

  • Cake on Cake—the fat-free version
  • Dazed and Confused? There’s a painting for that

3. Use numerals instead of text.

The number 50 has more of a visual impact than the word fifty. Note, however,

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