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The anatomy of an effective e-mail subject line: How to stand out in a crowded inbox


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E-mail marketing is one of the most pervasive communication tools around and its importance continues to grow with the use of technology. It is also one of the best and most cost-efficient ways to get a message out to a specific audience. However, professional and personal e-mail inboxes are crowded with messages, and brands/companies need to compete to be noticed. For their messages to break through the noise of the crowded inbox, marketers must start with the subject line. Drafting the perfect subject line is an art form with a little bit of science thrown in. It requires an intimate knowledge of one’s target audience and the ability to translate a larger message into a few words to strike the right chord and compel the recipient to take action. This paper explores how to provide the most relevant, personalised e-mail subject line ‘experience’ by discussing the fundamentals of how to draft compelling, effective subject lines.

Keywords: best practices; digital marketing; e-mail marketing; e-mail subject line; subject line fundamentals

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: B.I.G. Marketing Consulting

Publication date: January 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing is the essential peer-reviewed, professional journal for all those involved in the marketing of products or services using digital channels. Its overriding goal is to provide an authoritative, practitioner-focused forum to support the professional development of all those working in, or entering, the field. As such, the Journal's content is both of direct relevance to the practice of digital marketing and intellectually rigorous.

    Topics range from measuring and improving digital media effectiveness and ROI to search engine optimisation, from social media marketing to partner marketing, from mobile marketing to email marketing, website design, display advertising, pay per click and detailed marketing analytics. In short the Journal focuses on any of the established and emerging digital media, tools and practices requiring new approaches to marketing, branding and understanding customer behavior and attitudes.

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