Create Eye-Catching & Clickable Subject Lines

Posted by Valarie Geckler on June 01, 2008

When it comes to subject lines for email campaigns or newsletters, word choice can make or break a subscriber's decision to open a message or not. There's no magic bullet for compelling a subscriber to open and read your newsletter, but ponder these ideas about subject lines before your next mail blast.

The Three C's

Marketing research suggests that subject lines that are concise, clear and provide a call to action are the most effective at grabbing the attention of people quickly scanning their inbox for interesting emails.

  • What is considered concise? Between three and six words. No need for a dissertation in the subject line.

  • How clear is clear? A title should be specific and relevant to content therein. Nothing prompts a reader to unsubscribe faster than the bait and switch.

  • What are effective calls to action? In most cases, it's simple - get readers reading. Try to appeal to subscribers' desires, needs and interests. Aim to motivate subscribers to read your campaign without being overly promotional, unless, of course, it is purely a promotion.

Not to give you flashbacks to high school grammar class, but verb choice can go a long way toward increasing your message's effective call to action. Consider the following example:

Passive: A Chance to Register for Pie is Inside

Active: Register Now to Win Pie

Active verbs and phrases can give that extra boost to an email. Avoid bland, passive verbs like "is," "are," "was," and "were."

Don't Look Like Spam

Avoid any wording (don't mention Viagra, for sure) or all caps lettering that may get you confused for spam or filtered into the junk bin. For a good list of subject lines to avoid, check out Marketing Profs' "The Seven Dirty Words You Can't in Email Subject Lines."

Be creative, deliberate and have fun with your subject lines. Elicit a click.


Valarie Geckler

Meet Valarie, a 10-year Digetteer, Digett Partner, and expert on digital marketing infrastructure.

MSP Guide

Monthly Marketing Insights.

Get thought-provoking and actionable insights to improve how your firm makes a connection with your customers.


The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.