8 tips on writing great email subject lines

By: Nina Washington
March 15, 2024
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When it comes to what gets someone to open your newsletter, subject lines are truly everything. Subject lines act as the gateway to your content, determining whether your message pierces through the digital clutter to reach its intended audience.  

Your email’s subject line serves as both your introduction and your first impression for your audience. Getting it right is no easy task, but the benefits can be huge.

This blog post explores the importance of compelling subject lines and provides advice on how to write them for media companies.

Why good subject lines matter

First Impressions Count: It’s pretty basic: A good subject line motivates someone to open your newsletter. A weak one could very well mean that your email is scrolled over.

Key to Open Rates: The subject line has the greatest impact on the open rate, one of the commonly-used measures to assess the effectiveness of email campaigns. 

Best practices for writing email subject lines

  • Brevity is king: Keep it brief. HubSpot recommends using subject lines no longer than 50 characters to prevent them from being cut off on mobile devices.
  • Be honest: Don’t use a subject line that promises something in your newsletter that you don’t fully deliver. So don’t do click bait.
  • Action-oriented language: Use language that generates urgency or motivates actions, “last chance” or “register now.”
  • Ask questions: Help readers understand that you have the answer to a relevant question like “When will 3rd Street open?” or “Are these weight loss drugs safe?”
  • Avoid spammy language: Steer clear of terms like “cash,” and “earn” that cause spam filters to kick up.
  • Test and optimize: A/B testing various subject lines may provide you with insightful data about what appeals to your audience. A/B testing tools tailored to media companies you can use include: HubSpot Email Marketing, Campaign Monitor, and Marketo
  • Use numbers: If you have a list of things to do this weekend, share the number (5 things to do this weekend) or 5 spots to try for national burger day.

  • Preview text compatibility: Be certain that your subject line provides a brief overview of the email content and complements the sample text. 

Here are a few examples

This one does a good job hitting a big number, providing some news and getting specifics about the location (Fort Bend).


This one is very clever, asks a question, and makes the reader want to know what about Valentine’s Day and Texas they are talking about.

This features a nice emoji and signals that I can get useful information on preparing for a cold snap.

More articles on email subject lines

Components of an Optimized Email – HubSpot Community

How to Write Good Email Subject Lines That Will Get Opened – Grammarly Blog

Email Subject Lines: Best Practices for Email Marketers – Content Marketing Institute

Welcome to Marketo Nation – Marketo

How to A/B Test Your Email Marketing Campaigns – Campaign Monitor

The Art of Crafting the Perfect Email Subject Line – Constant Contact Blog

20 Tips & Best Practices for Writing Catchy Email Subject Lines – HubSpot Blog

David Arkin Consulting specializes in newsletter strategies for media companies. Contact us today to learn how we can help. Email david@davidarkinconsulting.com

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