Email can serve as a very important part of your marketing mix.  Email marketing has many advantages, one of which is low cost and specific targeted messaging. According to DMA, email has an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent. A small business should never underestimate the power of this marketing tool. Here are some “best practice” rules, starting with the subject line.

Importance of subject line:  To get to the point that a consumer actually opens your email, you have just a few words and less than 4 seconds to capture the consumers interest…and that is providing your email has not just gone straight to spam.  Let’s say you have successfully had your email land in the consumers email, what that subject line says is just about everything! First impressions only come once with email and getting the consumer to open it.  Use words that create authenticity in a message, gratitude, and intimacy. The subject line needs to create an emotion in the consumer such as an urgency with an FOMO marketing strategy that is the “Fear Of Missing Out.” Subject lines that ask questions have typically higher open rates.

Subject line words that work and don’t work: Through comprehensive research by, gaining higher open rates are affected significantly by the use of certain words in the subject line.  These phrases have been researched to find that they do not improve open rates and are not successful in creating the urgency anticipated by their usage; thus, should be avoided. Perhaps, these phrases/words have just been so over used that the consumer has become desensitized and consider the phrase as a devaluation of the message: Last Chance; Final; Sale; Save; Reminder; Offer; Discount; Free (Janzen, 2017; Johnson, 2017).

Instead use phrases/words such as Bonus, Gift, Important, Limited Time, Appreciation, Thank You, My Gift to You, or A Silver City Exclusive Offer for You.  According to Adestra (2015), email subject lines with “thank you” have the highest above-average engagement levels.

Three “Best Practice” subject line pointers:

  1. Subject line straightforward, but create emotion and an urgency (15 characters low-end, but not more than 50 characters)
  2. Know your audience and what interests them
  3. Identify yourself
  4. Have some kind of personalization
  5. Avoid promotional phrases that look and “feel” spammy such as FREE; instead ask a question or use words that show gratitude or intimacy
  6. Leverage localization (make it personally targeted)
  7. Do not use ALL CAPS and exclamation points

There are many components to successful email marketing, but these are some of important highlights. A couple of additional pointers, restrict usage of attachments as consumers are rightfully cautious of opening email attachments with the threats that come with them.

Marketing Matters written by: Sabrina Pack-Professional Certified Marketer with SkyWest Media / Silver City Radio.


Janzen, D. (2017, June 14). How to Make Your Subject Lines More Meaningful. Retrieved from

Johnson, J. (2017, May 8). 8 Surprising Words that Can Hurt Your Email Open Rates. Retrieved from