Impactful Subject Lines Pt 1 - Front Loading

64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line*, so it is important to aptly describe what they can expect. In the same way that no one likes to sit through meetings that are not relevant to them, recipients do not like to read through emails that are not relevant to them. The subject line is your opportunity to clearly inform recipients of what is to come, and avoid making them feel like they just sat through an irrelevant meeting.

One simple, effective and actionable technique is to place the more important information at the beginning of a subject line. This can help your recipients to more quickly decide if the email is relevant to them and whether it requires any action on their behalf. It also ensures the more important information is visible when subject lines are long enough that some inboxes (especially on smaller devices) will cut off the end. Let’s look at an example.

“Tickets now available for our event ‘Tax Law in 2014’ on 22nd of January in London”

A recipient may view this on a mobile device, cutting off the second half. They’ll spend time reading through only to realise at the end they are unavailable on the event day. This may seem like a minor inconvenience but it is an inconvenience none the less, and one that can be easily avoided.


This subject line delivers four pieces of information: availability of tickets, event name, date and location. By considering which is most important we can improve the subject line by placing that information at the beginning. In this case, the two most important pieces of information are the event date and location. If your recipient is unavailable on that day, they cannot attend your event. Similarly, if they are not in the location, they cannot attend. It is therefore important to make this information most quickly accessible. A revised subject line might be:

“Upcoming Event, 22nd of January, London – Tickets now available for ‘Tax Law in 2014’ ”

In this revised example, a recipient will be able to more quickly tell if the email is not relevant to them. This may sound like a somewhat self-destructive technique; in effect you are aiding users to more effectively decide if they should delete your email. But this is not a bad thing. Those recipients that do click open will do so having been better informed of the content and therefore more likely to engage and RSVP.


By using a front-loaded subject line you have improved the experience for those who are unavailable – saving their time - whilst improving the engagement and conversion metrics for those who are. This is a win, win technique for both sender and recipients.


Using front-loading in the subject line improves the recipient experience, boosts your metrics and builds a better relationship for future communications. If only avoiding irrelevant meetings was as easy.


Here, we have utilised the order of words to refine your subject line. Next week, I will explain a technique that emphasises tone in order to fine-tune your subject line even further.



Chadwick Martin Bailey