How long should your email subject line be? Depends…

It seems we’re all after the subject line Holy Grail. Everyone wants to know the ideal subject line length for maximizing open rates. But based on what I’ve been reading lately, it’s not cut and dry. It depends on what you really want to maximize: your open rates or your click throughs.

Studies are showing that although shorter subject lines (often it’s less 35 characters or seven words) work best for increasing your open rates. But guess what? Longer subject lines are better for increasing your click through rates! And possibly your conversions.

What happens is this: A longer subject line can be more specific and therefore more relevant to a smaller segment of your audience. As a result, fewer people open the email, but those that do are more interested in your offer, and therefore more likely to convert.

I doubt we’ll ever have a guaranteed email subject line length but there’s one thing I can guarantee: The way to know what works is to test, test, test, test. Remember, email marketers, in your world, testing is much more doable than in the print marketer’s world. Take advantage of that ability to boost your email marketing ROI.

For more on how to write an email subject line, see the useful guide from Lyris: “Email Subject Lines: 15 Rules to Write Them Right.” It’s available on the ClickMail Web site at

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