7 Tips on How to Create Email Subject Lines Short and Concise
Published on 25 March 2015 | Author Stefan von Lieven0
The subject line decides whether or not an email will be opened by a recipient. Subject lines should therefore be formulated in a brief and precise way. Although this might sound obvious, the practical implementation often fails. artegic AG has compiled 7 tips for you on how to create email subject lines short but powerful.
1. Use Synonyms
Most words in the English vocabulary are not unique in their meaning. There are probably synonyms for a word which say the same with less characters. Saving on characters can be very helpful. When we change “inexpensive” to “bargain” we have already saved 4 characters.
However, you should choose synonyms carefully. Not all words are 100% substitutable. Even minor deviations in the meaning can have significant effects on the understanding. Also, different terms may be perceived differently by customers despite the same meaning. In everyday language “cheap” is often used as a synonym with “good value” but it can also be associated with low quality. When in doubt, you should test several versions when choosing synonyms in order to identify the best
2. No Unnecessary Words
We tend to attire our sentences with unnecessary words. However, when space is scarce, every word which does not contribute directly to the intended message or emotional effect should be deleted. The message needs to be conveyed in as few words as possible.
“We are happy that we have won you as a customer.” → “We are happy to have won you as a customer”.
It makes sense to reword sentences if you can save words.
“Big savings today – hurry!” → “Hurry – big savings today!”
Headlines do not necessarily need to be conveyed in complete sentences with the corresponding sentence structure. “New special offers are available now.” → “New special offers available now.”
3. Use Numbers and Symbols
Numbers up to twelve are often written as words and mathematical symbols such as “plus” are often written as words outside formulas. This is not obligatory in subject lines. Symbols save space, can be used more flexibly and draw more attention. Most currencies also have a symbol.
“Ten” → “10”
“Percent” → “%”
“and” → “&”
“01. March” → “01.03.”
“Euro” → “€”
The first version of a subject line is rarely the best even when it conveys the right message. The subject line should always be reworded with the focus on shortening the sentence more and more each time until nothing can be shortened any more without affecting the meaning. You should not hesitate to create a completely new subject line with different words or a different sentence structure. It is often more sensible to start a new attempt instead of clinging onto one version and trying to optimise it.
“The latest offers from this week are waiting to be discovered by you” → “This week’s latest offers are waiting to be discovered by you.” → Discover this week’s latest offers.”
5. Take an Active Position
Subject lines which are formulated from an active point of view usually require less characters. They are not only space saving but also achieve a different effect with the recipient. Active voice formulations are more direct. This increases the commitment of the statement as a passive voice formulation and always expresses a certain distance between the sender and the message. Whether an active or passive voice would make more sense should be decided in the individual case. E.g. if you wish to represent objective facts, it might be more sensible to appear more distant.
“On offer…” → “We offer…”
“One must bear in mind,…” → “Bear in mind…”
6. Use Abbreviations
There are many abbreviations for words and formulations. Some are used more often in day to day language than the long version. If possible, shorten words.
“Hampshire” → “Hants”
“for example” → “e.g.”
“Customer Relationship Management” → “CRM”
“As soon as possible” → “A.S.A.P-”
“Executive document” → “Ex.doc.”
Not all abbreviations are familiar to every recipient. You must bear in mind the target group to which the recipient belongs. The abbreviation “SEO” for “Search Engine Optimization” is an integral part of every online marketer’s language. However, when the email is targeting a medium-sized craft business looking to optimise its website, this abbreviation might be confusing.
Whether or not an abbreviation is suitable does not only depend on the knowledge of the recipient but also on the context. The abbreviation “asap” “as soon as possible” may be common in internal business communication but it might sound informal and casual towards customers.
7. Include ASCII Characters
There are a number of ASCII characters which can be used in the subject line. ASCII characters fulfil two functions. They draw attention through their figurative nature and can be used for abbreviations. Many ASCII characters symbolise specific content. Common ASCII characters are smilies, hearts or arrows.
However, you must be careful when using ASCII characters. Not all ASCII characters can be displayed by common email clients. An email with ASCII characters in the subject line should therefore be tested prior to sending.