Link to this page

What’s the Best Email Subject Line Length?

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

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.

What's the best email subject line length? with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #EmailMarketing

The ideal email subject line length is …

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.

The ideal email subject line length is short

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:

  • Gmail: 70 characters
  • iPhone: 41-64 characters
  • Outlook: 54-73 characters
  • Yahoo Mail: 46 characters

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

The ideal email subject line length is long

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.

The long and short of email subject line length

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.

What’s a writer to do?

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.)

  • Place the benefit near the beginning of the subject line
  • Place the offer near the beginning of the subject line
  • Place numbers near the beginning of the subject line
  • Place active verbs near the beginning of the subject line
  • Place specifics near the beginning of the subject line

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.

More email writing tips

The SELWAB Formula: great for writing leads and headlines ...

The 4 U's: use this checklist for writing powerful headlines ...

What’s the Ideal Email Length?

Three tips to increase your email open rate ...

Email Writing Tips: a tip for savvy subject lines ...   

Do's and don'ts for email subject lines ...

More email writing tips on our Pinterest board ...

Return from Best Email Subject Line Length to Nonprofit Copywriter home

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Powered by SBI! Learn more here.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Search This Site

Share This Page


Named to 2022 Writer's Digest list

Get Free Writing Tips

Stop Wasting Time!

Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!