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ReThinc May Blog - Email Subject Lines

With Email, The Subject Line Makes All The Difference

A HA! Got you to open the email … which is exactly this month’s blog topic. Writing a blog is one thing. Having it edited by a bunch of hyper-critical millenials and subsequently sending it out via email is not as easy as you might think.

Wait, that’s actually pretty easy. The hard part is getting YOU to open it and actually read it.

More and more brands are relying on email to keep you loyal to their brand, which is a nice way of saying buying their stuff. Whereas we don’t need you to buy anything at ReThinc, we do appreciate access to your inbox so that we can keep you informed and stay top of mind.

Email is used in lots of different ways. For instance, we send out our blogs as well as updates on our company and samples of our work. Some of our clients use it to drive traffic or purchase by announcing specials, sales, and other offers designed to get consumers to act. This takes us to the eCommerce function of email. A whopping 66% of us (that’s 2 out of every 3 people for you Sun Devils out there) have made an online purchase directly from an email. Email literally offers the very best ROI in all of digital media. Research shows that over $306 billion dollars are spent annually on email marketing. That’s an enormous amount of emails considering it’s a fraction of a penny to actually send an email.

Self service platforms and companies like us make sending emails easy.

So, easy is one thing, but how do we make sure your recipient actually opens it? Well, we use magic words like “new” “improved” and “Stephanie” to increase our open rates. The average open rate of an email hovers somewhere around 15%. An effective subject line can make a huge difference in your open rate and ultimately your reach.

Let’s look at a few sample subject lines that were deemed effective by people smarter than us:


  1. Guess: Don’t Wear Last Year’s Styles
  2. Jeremy Gitomer: How Have You Progressed Since Third Grade
  3. La Mer: Age-defying Beauty Tricks
  4. Open Table: Licking Your Phone Never Tasted So Good
  5. Sephora: Product That Celebs Are Wearing
  6. ReThinc: New & Improved Stephanie … (OK, just kidding)


At ReThinc, we put a lot of effort in balancing clever with compelling. This is not for the faint of heart mind you. Email subject lines sometimes take longer to come up than the actual content. (That’s not true actually, but it certainly was an effective embellishment … no?) Think about it, you’re busy, you’re maybe a little tired, and you’re bumping through your inbox and something comes up that’s not a mandatory read. Most people are going to hit the delete button unless the subject holds something of interest to them.

Here’s some important tips from the experts:

Just a little over half of you open your email on a mobile device where the subject line is not as long as if you open it on a desktop. iPhones show somewhere around 35 characters when held upright (common) and 80 when you hold it in landscape mode (uncommon). Samsung Galaxy has slightly less than that. These are things you need to think about in a world that is increasingly mobile.

There are other considerations that we must take into account when engaging an email campaign. Things like the day and the time we send it … both are additional factors to consider when you’re sending marketing messages via email.

A good best practice is to A/B test subject lines. We’re probably doing that right now. Essentially that means we pit two subject lines against each other to see which one achieves a higher open rate. This helps you to better understand your audience and therefore create better subject lines in the future.

So, like a lot of things marketing, email subject lines are a little more complex than what you might initially think. As always, we’re here to help. If you’re doing an email campaign on a self serve platform and need a little direction, send me a note and we’ll get you squared away!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Ed Olsen is the president/owner of ReThinc Advertising and Public Relations. He has lots of opinions on all things marketing. To read more of them, click here.

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