Blog Email Marketing and SMS

Myth 12: The subject line has to be short

Category: Email Marketing

Imagen Myth 12: The subject line has to be s

The subject line is a key element in email marketing because it is the key to getting the message opened. There are other factors, such as the sender or the subject of the communication itself, but the subject line is responsible for "selling" the email so that it first achieves openings and then conversions. It is so important that several false myths circulate about it, not only that it must contain emojis, but also that it must always be short. This is not the case; it can be adapted to different situations!


What is the maximum length of an email marketing subject line?

The sentence you just read is 62 characters long. As a title or subtitle sentence, nothing would indicate that it is too long, but the perspective changes when you place it in another channel and then yes, it is too long as an email subject. 

In general, 50 characters is the recommended maximum to be readable in full on most desktop email managers, but this number drops to 30 on mobile devices where screens are much narrower and the width needs to be adjusted. Therefore, continuing with the example, to use the subtitle sentence in a campaign, we would have to rephrase it, remove some words or use synonyms with fewer letters.

The minimum for a subject line would be 10 characters, although the truth is that it would be difficult to arouse interest because it would be reduced to almost nothing (perhaps the name of the brand and a date if it is a newsletter). A short subject line should have four or five words that do not exceed 30 characters to ensure that the sentence will not be cut off at the end if it is read from a mobile phone. If we exceed 50 characters, we risk having subscribers who, even from the comfort of their computer, may not understand the message we want to convey, which can affect the statistics of openings.

In the Acrelia campaign editor, you will see a red message if you exceed that number to help you write the subject within that limit.


Is it better to keep the subject short or long?

The recommended number of characters is determined by the users themselves because it influences where it is viewed from. If you check your statistics, you can see which devices are most used in your contact list and consider how to optimise it to always have the highest percentage of openings. 

There are also other reasons to keep your subject line short:

  • It attracts more attention: it stands out because it allows you to preview the inside of the message or give more space to the pre-header so that it works as a second subject.
  • It is more direct and clearer: getting to the point is highly valued because it allows better management of the email and allows the user to decide whether they are interested in reading it now or saving it for later.
  • It is quicker and easier to read: it is more agile and does not cause misunderstandings because its few words do not leave room for confusion about what the message received is really about.
  • It generates curiosity: to motivate people to open the message, you can tell them half of what the newsletter or the offer is about. It is not a matter of lying or misleading, only of arousing interest.
  • It stimulates creativity: adjusting characters is an exercise that allows you to choose the words that finally make the cut. That's why it's not enough to stick with the first sentence that comes to mind, you have to try several!

Of course, if we say that it does not always have to be short, it is because there are also reasons to construct a subject that is closer to the maximum recommended number of characters:

  • To manage expectations: it allows you to get a clearer idea of what the subscriber will find and thus assess whether to open it or not.
  • Describes the interior better: it is not about rambling, but you can add some details that cannot be explained by going to the point. And perhaps it is this extra detail that is of interest to the subscriber.
  • It is more customisable: name tags, for example, can make the total number of characters vary a lot, so they can turn a short subject into a long one almost without you realising it.
  • It is more complete: you can explain the content a little better, with more depth, because it doesn't always have to be just a teaser.
  • It allows you to be more persuasive: choosing the phrase that can best connect with the interests of subscribers is important, but you can also insert a call to action that denotes urgency, although it uses a few extra characters.

Choosing whether to use a short or long subject line can vary depending on the type of mailing you are sending. For example: for a new product launch, a short one may be a good choice while a cross-selling campaign requires a bit more context and it is better to use a few more words.


How do you make the most of every character in a campaign subject line?

The difference between a perfect subject line for all devices and one that is too long and that some subscribers may not be able to read completely is perhaps just a couple of words. To make the most of the 30-50 characters, you can write it with the following in mind: 

  • Abbreviations: as long as they are understandable to your subscribers, you can use a symbol or convention, for example "-10%" instead of "10% discount". 
  • Numbers: if you have to put dates, use the numerical version, for example: "until 31/12" will save you a little more space than if you use "until the end of the month".
  • Emojis: not all of them have the same meaning, but there are those that do not generate any doubt about their meaning and will avoid you writing, for example, "gift" or a specific product (flowers, chocolates, clothes, books...). 
  • Pre-header: not everything has to fit inside the subject line, this element fulfils the function of extending the space to add a complementary phrase that helps to give it meaning, for example to indicate the deadline of an offer.

The subject line is also an important element for the message to go to the spam folder, so when choosing the words, you should not only think about their length, but also about those that could be considered spam. For example: writing in all capital letters as if you were shouting, overusing exclamation marks to mark a promotion or including "free" may cause your message to fail some spam filters. Rewrite it so that it is understood even if you remove those words, always keeping in mind the total number of characters. 

Download the ebook "Email marketing myths" to learn about other myths you should stop believing in.

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