Excuse the bawdy reference, but it does the job. It gets attention while using the fewest characters possible. Which is the approach to take with email subject lines. A no-brainer? Perhaps. But if you look at your own in-box, whether it’s on Outlook, Mail, Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail, you’ll quickly see how some subject lines render more completely than others. Some will manage to get the whole message across while others get truncated, leaving off critical pieces of information. This can be due to the email client/provider, in which subject line character limits may range between 40-50 characters. Or it can be due to the the size of the user’s screen.
Consider this 72-character subject line, and see what happens as it begins to get truncated.
New herbal fresh soap available at special price at your local Harry’s (full length)
New herbal fresh soap available at special price a (50 characters)
New herbal fresh soap available at speci (40 characters)
Also, be sure to place as much critical information at the beginning of your subject line, rather than at the end as a hedge against important content being truncated. In the examples above, the name of the retailer gets chopped off, as does the “special price” reference in the 40-character version. Those are pretty important pieces of information that the marketer surely would want front and center.
In a recent Email Marketing Reports post, Mark Brownlow offers up this free Excel spreadsheet that shows you how your subject line looks at any length between 10 and 125 characters. It’s a great tool that’s definitely worth downloading.
- When writing email subject lines, keep character count limitations in mind.
- Put the most important information up front.