Writing Subject Lines for Mobile Optimized Email


For the next 5 posts, I’ll be sharing the 5 elements of effective mobile optimized email creative. Through these, I’ll be breaking down the important sections of an email creative, starting with tips on writing subject lines, covered in this post.

Every marketer must keep sight of the goal — a successful and positive interaction with the recipient in order to establish, develop or maintain a relationship, and articulate value. In order to do this, you’ll have to keep on eye on how your customers are reading their emails.

Emails and mobile devices

email in mobile device

Consider this: According to Litmus, as of 2014, 51% of all emails are opened on a mobile device. So, in order to communicate clearly via email, you must keep in mind two major considerations that influence the visual framework of a mobile optimized email.

  1. Small reading screen: when your screen is the size of a business card, text and structure must be easy to understand quickly.
  2. Touch: when input methods are imprecise (compared to a mouse!), opportunities for engagement and requests for action must be clear and usable.

This is not a direct mail piece any more! Make it easy for the people you connect with to respond and engage with you and your brand. At the end, marketing is still about connecting with a person on the receiving end, and we do this through clear, effective communication. In the case of email, it all starts with the subject line.

Subject line do’s & don’ts to help drive your open rates…


  • Keep it to 35 characters or less.
  • Personalize. I like to test different approaches to determine which one drives best results.
  • Keep it strong, consistent and simple. I like to start subject lines with an action verb.
  • Include company name (brand) and relate it to the content.
  • Entice your audience with excitement, wit, & mystery.


  • Use ALL CAPS and lots of punctuation!!!!
  • Watch out for spammy words. You can use them, but test first, and make sure it’s authentic.
  • Use “startling” words like “last chance” or “emergency”. The more you do, the less trust you build with your audience. It’s like constantly crying wolf.

Research and statistics have shown that subject line is one of the key influencing factors that drives your email’s open rate. This, together with the “From” line, and the often-missed pre-header text will determine the level of engagement you get. We’ll cover the “pre-header” text in my next post, so make sure to come back in 2 weeks for that.

What’s Your Experience?

So, go back to your past email campaigns. How long are your subject lines? Have you done any personalization and did it help? What’s your best performing subject line?

Leave a comment below and share your insights with the rest of us.


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