Your email subject lines make a world of difference

A simple subject line can make or break the open rate for your emails.

Would you click on an email with the following subject line?

Subject: =?windows-1252?Q?Conference=20Planning=20Survey?=

I’m probably not alone in my instinct to trash this email. I figured it was probably the work of an unsophisticated spammer.

Looking at the snippet of email address displayed by my email service didn’t inspire confidence either. All I saw was “marketer-ese.” At best, I figured, this was an email from some market research firm.

However, I felt curious, so I expanded the email line. I discovered the email was from an organization I respect, but won’t name. The full email address was something like

Your bottom line: Pick your subject line carefully

If the organization had a better subject line, I would have opened it without thinking.  Something simple, such as “ORGANIZATION NAME wants your input” would have done the trick.

Have YOU ever deleted or ignored an email because of a poorly written subject line?

5 replies
  1. Kristin Harad, CFP
    Kristin Harad, CFP says:

    Great point Susan. In email, the subject line is the most vital thing. If the recipient doesn’t open your email, your message goes no where! I’ll often send the same copy twice, just altering the subject lines and see a huge boost in open rates from people who ignored the first email every single time.

    Saw this really interesting split test on subject line length today, too –

  2. Susan Weiner CFA
    Susan Weiner CFA says:


    Thanks for sharing your informative comment about your email subject line strategy. I also liked the link. Interesting that longer subject lines sometimes do better.

  3. Dave Grant, CFP
    Dave Grant, CFP says:


    I do it all day long! A title has to grab me or portray that I could benefit from the email for me to open it.

    Another thing that I get a lot of is daily digests from numerous industry magazines. A lot of the time I have preview window open and get to see what the email looks like, and if any of the titles grab me. The content could be exactly what I’m looking for, but if you title doesn’t portray that or isn’t “edgey” enough, then my eyes move on. I don’t have enough time in my day to open every link and discover what’s inside, so a good title is very important.

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