You’ve got your email campaign or email newsletter or email marketing message all set to go. And you’ve written several subject lines. Now it’s time to choose one. What’s the ideal email subject line length? And is the length of your email subject line a factor in getting more readers to open your message?
Yes and no. Read on to see what I mean.
65 characters. For years, that’s been the number often touted as the length that generates the best read rates. (Email marketing provider Mail Chimp says 60 characters, but that’s close enough).
But consensus among email marketing experts is far from clear. Debate continues to rage between “shorter is better” and “go long.” And each side has supporting data.
Data is consistent among email service providers: a short subject line garners more opens on a mobile device. Longer subject lines risk being cut off on mobile screens. And since more than half of users read email on mobile devices, short makes a compelling argument.
But character limits vary on devices and applications:
That variance among applications means shorter subject line length is appealing. Your entire subject line is read by more users. The optimum length? 41 characters or 7 words, according to a study by Marketo.
But data also shows that longer can be better. U.K.-based email services provider Adestra analyzed 1 billion emails and learned that subject lines of 90 characters and more produced the highest response rates.
A longer subject line gives you the space to communicate benefits – one of the keys to drawing in users when writing headlines, subject lines, and titles. More characters and more words means you can better answer the “What’s In It For Me?” question for your readers.
Download this free checklist for writing better email subject lines.
To muddle matters further, there’s even research that shows the email subject line length accounts for less that 1% of variance in open rates. So says a Return Path study that “shows us that there’s no relationship between the number of characters in a subject line and whether or not the email is opened.”
“For most users, there is no statistical link between subject line length and open rate,” say our friends at Mail Chimp.
Clearly there are advantages to both short subject lines and long subject lines. But before your fingers are wrapped in a bundle of panic at the keyboard, you can fid a bit of comfort in the face of those discrepancies.
It's this: the length of your subject line is just one factor that moves the user to click open. Users consider the sender name … the subject line style (does it spark curiosity, offer news, or present a bargain?) … the timing of the campaign...
Beyond that, here’s a practical tip. As you write your subject line, put the good part first. (That way, if some is cut off, users will still get the gist of your point.)
When you put the good stuff first, your user reads it first. And that alone increases the chances that he will click open and read through. Whether the subject line is short or long … or anything in between.
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