How to Write Shorter Subject Lines

The general rule of thumb for subject lines (as well as most other forms of online ad copy) is that shorter is better. For subject lines, the goal is to keep them under 60 characters, including spaces.

But sometimes you have a lot to say. Sometimes it’s tough to present an enticing offer in such a short amount of space.

First, write the subject line you would like to use if space were not an issue. If it’s less than 60 characters, congrats! But that does not mean it can’t get shorter.

Next, think of ways to say the same thing in fewer words. Treat it like a headline, so that:

Tomorrow We Are Having a Sale on Flat Screen Televisions

…can become:

Flat Screen Sale Tomorrow

After you do that, think of ways to shorten words, or replace words with shorter synonyms or symbols. This should help you make the subject line shorter still.

If you’re still too long, consider changing the way you present your offer. Change the direction of your subject, so that:

400 dollars off everything in our children’s section

…can become:

Special offer on children’s gifts

I got an email from JetBlue the other day with the subject line: ‘Special offer inside’. I thought that was brilliantly simple. It made me open the email.

Have subject line questions? Ask me here.