Research shows that short subject lines get the highest performance. How short? Data suggests that under 15 characters maximizes your open rate while 28-39 characters maximizes your click rate.
Some industry thought leaders, such as hubspot and MailChimp, recommend restricting your subject lines to 50 characters max.
There’s a few theories as to why shorter subject lines performs best. First, short subject lines often provide a hook which triggers curiosity. This encourages subscribers to open your email. Second, most email clients display less than 50 characters for the subject line, essentially truncating long subject line.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of the number of characters displayed on a client-by-client basis:
Now that we know what experts recommend, let’s see how marketers around the world craft their email subject lines. By analyzing 61,000 emails received by MailCharts in August 2015, we see the following distribution:
Notice how the curve peaks at the 21-40 character mark and then steeply drops down (you can view more email marketing stats here).
Here’s where things get interesting. The folks at MailChimp ran a studywhere they discovered that there actually isn’t a best, universal, subject line length. They, however, did find that there could be an ideal sweet spot for you and your company.
Now comes the hard question: What is the ideal subject line length for you and your subscribers? Unfortunately, there’s only one way to find out: test sending short, and long, subject lines.
The problem is that coming up with short subject lines can be extremely difficult. To help spur your creativity we dug into the MailCharts data to surface recently received emails with short subject lines.
Promotional aside: The data you’re about to explore comes directly from the MailCharts app. We recently released Advanced Search, which makes it a breeze to gather this information.
Great, short, subject lines
In the last month, we’ve received close to 1,000 emails with subject lines of 15 characters or less. Below we’ve selected 644 examples you can use as inspiration in your next campaign.
Quick note before you dive in: when using very short subject lines, it’s easy to write something gimmicky or spammy sounding—as you’ll see in some of the examples below. Our challenge to you as a marketer is to come up with short subject lines that are neither deceiving nor spammy sounding. Also, remember that your pre-header text acts as the “second subject line”. Make sure your subject line and pre-header text work in sync to complement each other.
Let’s dive into a few of our favorite examples from the below list.
Every day, Daily Overview sends one beautiful image taken from a satellite. As a subscriber, you immediately know what the email is about when they use subject lines like these:
They’re one of my favorite fashion brand given their spunk and personality. Check out these great, short, subject lines which are perfectly in line with their brand:
STOP IT, SUMMER
DON’T FIGHT IT
The Etsy team does a delightful job at keeping it short and sweet. Their subject lines are very well aligned with the content of each email:
Your Love Story
Unplug & Unwind
The last company we’ll highlight is Buzzfeed. Known for their humor and viral content, they use short subject lines to prompt curiosity and drive opens:
That’s Too Much
That’s Not Good
Who Does That?
That’s A Hoot
Short Email Subject Lines
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