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How Do You Know if This is Worth Reading?

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

The Importance of a Great Subject Line

The email subject line has one purpose: to sufficiently pique the attention of the reader so they open the message and read its content. In that respect, isn’t the same true for all written materials? Book titles, white paper headers, LinkedIn ads, newspaper headlines, term paper cover sheets, and greeting card covers. Oh, yes…and blogs – I guess my title is ok as you’re still reading :).

So, with that un-epiphany, what’s the secret formula for a title that entices the audience to read the great writing that follows? This is where the information gets a bit fuzzy. I'll clear things up for you with logical answers to some of the most common myths and questions:

Q: You have seven seconds to get someone to click on your title. Or is it two? Maybe five?

A: Let’s agree that you don’t have much time.

Q: Should the maximum title length be 50 characters or 70?

A: That’s a fairly big difference, and I’ve read articles that advise each. Go with shorter is better, and run tests to view how your email or article will be displayed. For example, mail a copy to yourself and see where your email client cuts the title off, or look at the maximum number of characters a title displays on your blog site. Google ads and others give a preview of how your ad will look before it's published. In all cases and under all circumstances, put the most significant words early in the title.

Q: Which works best: cute, witty, intrigue, or a direct approach?

A: This depends on a) your target audience, and b) your brand. B2B C-suite mailings and articles work best with a straightforward title that leads directly into the content. Other audiences may find whimsical or suspenseful titles more appealing.

Here are a few recommendations that you should always use:

  • Make the title personal – reach your reader through both customized name merges and segmentation.

  • Use emotional and powerful words. Try Googling “subject line power words.” I didn’t provide a link to one here because I don’t agree with everything in any one particular list. Holistically, the lists are very helpful and will spark creative ideas that work best for your brand.

  • Even better, use a tool that analyzes your title. My favorite is free from CoSchedule.

  • Don’t be misleading - you’ll annoy the reader as well as hurt your SEO credibility.

I would argue that the best overall suggestion is to be authentic to your brand. Nothing would be more inapt than writing a subject line or blog title that compromises your brand in an attempt to increase your open rate. Those readers won’t be clicking a second time.

Please add your suggestions and experiences.



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