Viagra vendors and the like have done a great job discouraging us from opening our emails. And the sheer volume of communications we receive every day doesn’t help. And because of this, your emails are likely to be either ignored, or dumped straight in the Spam folder.

You’ve put a lot of thought into creating your subject lines and it would be a shame if they’re unsuccessful just because of a silly mistake you’ve made. So it’s best to know where the pitfalls are before you hit that send button.

Here are three subject line mistakes to avoid like the plague in your email marketing:

Subject lines that are too long

There’s some debate about exactly how long is too long when it comes to subject lines. You’ll see lots of advice saying that 50-70 characters is the maximum, others that you should keep under 50. In reality, short or long subjects can give great results. For instance, both of these did well…

Tight, taut and tuned!
We’ve missed you, so here’s an extra special discount from us
…according to Tim Watson

As he says, there are lots of factors involved in creating an email subject that works and length is only a part of the equation.

Using CAPS and other annoying characters

I’ve just retrieved an email from my Spam folder entitled:

EXCITING NEWS for YOU! … Massive Response to Video Genesis!

It’s from a respectable marketer who shall be nameless, and you can see the problem here. BIG CAPS and two exclamation marks (use one, at the very most). He’s obviously written it to grab attention, but what he’s actually done is grab my email client’s attention, who dumped it before it ever got to me.

♥  ☺

Unicode characters are beginning to sneak into subject lines, but use these with extreme caution. Not all email clients are able to render them correctly, and not all recipients who aren’t teenagers will be pleased to see them.

***Travel news bulletin***

Asterisks may help your subject line stand out if it ever gets to your reader, but spam filters are likely to filter it out before it gets that far. Quotation marks, $ signs and phone numbers are likely to be filtered out also.

Demanding and Pleading

Please read this
Urgent – read this now

This one depends on who the email’s from. If it’s sent from a charity you support or local cause you follow, for instance, you might be more inclined to open it. However, if it’s from a business or blog mail you subscribe to, you’ll probably send it trash without a second glance.

In the majority of cases it’s likely to irritate rather than get your email opened. Avoid.


By avoiding these mistakes, the number of emails delivered to real people will increase, and your open rate should increase as a result. But of course
avoiding problems is just part of the story.

How about some ideas on creating great subject lines that will attract lots of clickthroughs?
Read RedCappi’s 4 Pointers & Checklist to Freshening Email Subject