Email Suject Lines that Get Noticed

Do you know what 7 words to avoid in an email subject line?

You’ve just finished writing a stellar e-newsletter, pitch to the media or other correspondence and you’re about to email it out when you get stuck trying to think of a good subject line. Writing the subject line for your emails can be one of the most stressful steps of email marketing. It has happened to all of us at some point. How do you write a good subject line that will get noticed in the sea of emails, and get past the spam filters?

It’s a struggle. You know that no matter how relevant, compelling and irresistible the content of your email may be, if it doesn’t get opened, it will count for nothing. Here are a few tips to help take the struggle out of your subject line composing.

Words to Avoid

A study by MailChimp analyzed the open rates for over 200 million emails. An unexpected discovery of the MailChimp analysis was the negative impact of innocent words, such as free, help and reminder. According to MailChimp, these words are generally to be avoided in email subject lines since they tend to trigger spam filters. MailChimp identified innocuous words that won’t trigger spam filters, but will negatively affect your open rates.  A good way to check to see if a word could trigger spam filters is to Google “words blocked by email spam blockers.” But here are 7 words to use and to avoid using in your email subject line.


  1. Apply
  2. Opportunity
  3. Demo
  4. Connect
  5. Payments
  6. Conference
  7. Cancellation


  1. Confirm
  2. Join
  3. Assistance
  4. Speaker
  5. Press
  6. Social
  7. Invite

Another thing that really gets spam filters into action is using all capitals. Here’s a tip – emails get opened more often when the email subject line gives a good indication of the content inside the email. Silent and mysterious is not the way to go when trying to get attention and get someone to open that email. You can provide some intrigue, but don’t make people guess what might be inside the email by being too mysterious with the subject line. Get to the point.

Tweet Your Subject Line

Reading posts on social media sites like Twitter gets people thinking and urges them to take action and tweet. You should think of your email subject line as a tweet or social media update. For example, on Twitter you only have 140 characters to communicate your message. That’s more than enough characters for the subject line of an email. Conventional wisdom says that all subject lines should be five to eight words and no more than 40 characters long because some email clients will cut off the rest.  Be creative and where appropriate, be playful with your subject lines.

Encourage Action

One of the best ways to get someone to open your email is to encourage action. With any subject line, especially a promotional one, make sure to include a call to action, such as a deadline or text like “Respond now,” to get people to open immediately. Get in the wheelhouse of your audience by being interesting and engaging in your subject line and inspire urgent action.

For membership organizations and associations Constant Contact suggests that subject lines can be a little more generic since the audience is predisposed to opening messages from you. For instance, a credit union can send an email with a generic “Your April Statement is Ready” subject line because, as a member, you’re going to need the information contained within.

There are dozens of email subject line formulas that you can choose from, to both increase open-rates and sell a subject line. With inboxes full of unread messages, it’s the subject line that can deliver a winning click. Make your subject line stand out among the crowd to keep your audience opening and reading your emails.

Special Offer: Three Girls Media & Marketing Inc. loves working with small and emerging companies to raise their brand awareness and name recognition. We offer a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation with our CEO and can answer your questions and discuss your specific brand marketing needs. Email to make your appointment today. 

Photo Credit: opportplanet