Subject lines in email newsletters ...

... and why I'm NOT wishing you a Happy New Year.

or ... why email newsletter subject lines matter SO much

Let's get one thing out of the way first -

Of course I wish you, yours and everyone a utterly lovely and very Happy New Year!
(OK - let's exclude global despots, scammers, conspiracy theorists and the rest of the world's ne'er-do-wells - but you get my drift.)

The reason for my ungracious headline is this - 

By now - and for the next few days - your email inbox will be stuffed with Happy New Year email newsletters.
Each subject line will be greeting you with a hearty and frightfully sincere 'Happy New Year' !!!

Of course, some of these will be from genuine well-wishers ... and that's great.

Others though will move quickly on to announce how 'thrilled' / 'delighted' / 'excited' (delete as applicable) the sender is to announce their irresistible and amazing new offers for 2023.

The result? You'll probably feel underwhelmed and somewhat dischuffed.
You'll be thinking,
"Well, that's three minutes of 2023 already down the drain!"


What makes a great email Subject Line?

Your headline is your first real point of connection with your prospective customer.

You need to get it right.

How successful an email subject line is can be measured by

  1. How many recipients open it
  2. How many recipients respond

 1. without 2. is no good.

If your subject line promises a free 2-week break in the Seychelles but the message in the body fails to deliver the promise, then consider the email newsletter a 'fail'.

A successful email subject line is one which results in

  • a high number of 'opens'
  • a healthy response in terms of action taken by the recipient


Email newsletter don'ts and dos



X Don't make your subject line longer than about 60 characters.

Your recipient won't be able to see all of your subject line in their inbox preview pane.

X Don't include words like 'FREE' which will almost cetainly alert your recipients' spam filters.

X Don't be lazy and vague with your email subject line e.g.

Monthly newsletter from Larry's Lawncare



When possible, personalise the subject line with the recipient's first name.

James – discover the secret to growing beautiful roses

Include a relevant emoji in the subject line. Studies show that this little trick will almost always increase 'open' rates.

Turn your headline into a question –

Do you want to discover the 6 secrets to growing beautiful roses?

This suggests that you're interested in the recipinet and will provoke them into opening and reading your email newsletter.

Include a single benefit in your headline

Get that new job with five ‘must do’ interview tips

Be negative. Yep - seriously. People love to read about others’ misfortune.

7 tips for the perfect lawn

won't work nearly as well as

7 lawn care disasters 

Be odd. A strange one – but it works.

When you offer a number of tips, hints ideas etc, don’t go for a round number, such as 10 or 20. It looks as though you’ve come up with the tips to fit the number. Instead, use a random odd number – 7, 9, 11, 19.

7 lawn care disasters

This comes across as more authentic, as though you’re supplying the complete list.


'The Boss' got it right


0000000000000000 ogilvy

David Ogilvy, the godfather of advertising, declared


 ‘On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.’

 So - isn't it worth putting in those extra miles to make sure your email newsletters do the best possible job?


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Dec 31, 2022
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