Subject Lines for the Best Email Marketing Campaign Ever

Despite the buzz around social media lately, email marketing is still here.  And it turns out, it’s still making people money. You only need one stat to make that pretty durn clear:

As of May, 2011, email marketing had an average return on investment of $43.52 for every dollar spent”

-Mailer Mailer

Are people deleting your emails without even reading them? Build trust and craft effective subject lines to get people reacting like this when your email hits their inbox

I don’t know about the rest of you, but that’s good enough for me. When it comes to deciding what marketing strategies to pursue, ROI is the one key metric and with email marketing, it’s clear that the return is there. Affiliate marketers have known this for year with the now worn out saying, “the money is in the list.” But, how do you make sure that your campaign really is the best email marketing campaign possible?

Trust = The Best Email Marketing Campaign Ever

I know it’s worn out, but if you want to be successful in online marketing in general, you have to establish trust with your audience. The same applies for email marketing. Email marketing is so effective because you get to put your brand in front of people when they’re in what has become a very personal space, their inbox. That means the message below you could be baby pictures and the message above, a note from grandma.

If you are sending high-quality, high-value emails, then this is great news. People won’t have their BS guard up as much as they would just browsing around the internet. Email is a fantastic way to gain trust and nurture leads if you do it right. Conversely, if you’re sending spam people are going to be even more mistrusting of what you may send them in the future. That means your message is going to end up in the trash or spam folder and all that trouble you went through to get them to opt-in is wasted, and you’re definitely not on your way to crafting the best email marketing campaign you can.

It’s also worth noting that an estimated 60% of people have a spam email address they use if they’re not sure they trust you. That means trust begins not with your first email, but with your first interaction with the user.

The Key to Successful Emails: Subject Lines

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the subject line to craft the best email marketing campaign that you can. No matter how much hard work you spend designing and writing your emails, it all goes to waste if people won’t open it. I usually spend as much time crafting a subject line as I do the rest of the email.

When you’re crafting your subject lines, think value. The most successful email subject lines convey the highly relevant value to the recipient. Salesy and jargony terms tend not to fare very well. Since the school year just got started back, let’s look at an example of some good bad subject lines for a school supplies company trying to put together the best email marketing campaign for back-to-school shopping

Bad: Reminder to get 50% off on your Back-to-School Shopping

Why’s it Bad?

For one, both “reminder” and “% off”, are no-nos in all email marketing and are associated with low click through rates. It’s also too long and sounds jargony.

Good: No-BS Guide to Saving on School Supplies

Why’s it Good?

It immediately grabs attention with no-BS and shows it’s a useful “guide,” not just another sales promotion. It’s also important to keep your emails timely. That means this may be a great email in mid-August, but a horrible one around Thanksgiving.


  • avoid jargon and salesy words, focus on utility to the recipient
  • arouse emotion, be unique
  • keep it brief, 50 characters or less

If you want help crafting your email subject lines and cashing in on that $43.52 ROI, contact us and let us show you how we can help you build your business.

2 replies
  1. Mary Tairua
    Mary Tairua says:

    Great post Taylor. Email marketing is awesome and can bring great returns but unfortunately my inbox still gets filled with a lot of emails featuring horrible subject lines. I generally ignore those, as do others, which is why subject lines are so important. You’ve got to grab people and draw them into your email!

    • Taylor Pearson
      Taylor Pearson says:

      Great Point Mary. It doesn’t matter how great the content of the email is if people don’t open it. Subject lines are critical.

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