I have a Feeling You’ll Open This Email Even Though the Subject Line is 103 Characters and 20 Words Long

open email

A VIP member of my Content Transformation Academy asked me last week:


What’s the ideal length for a subject line? 


“Provocative question,” I replied.


My answer: “Size doesn’t matter.” 


The VIP shot back: “I read ‘shorter is better.’” 


“Yeah,” I replied, “Some say short. Some say long.” 


I Googled “what’s the proper length for a subject line” and reviewed the results with him…

…A mess of conflicting – often senseless – advice!


One article said: “No more than 9 words and 60 characters.” 


Another said: “You should aim to keep your subject lines from six to 10 words, and be aware that the most common way to go astray is to be too lengthy.”


The next one said: “Longer subject lines boost response rates.” 


Followed by this one that said: “If you want your subject to stand out, it helps to make it much shorter.” 


One article suggests you analyze your audience to determine which kind of devices they’re using to receive and read your emails. Then adjust subject lines accordingly. (Good luck with that).


The same article suggests 41 characters and 7 words is the “sweet spot.” 


And finally this “gem:” Take your top performing emails, calculate the average subject line length, and set that as your ideal. 

Shorter, longer. Longer, shorter. 

It’s enough to make your head explode. 


Here’s the problem with all of that advice: 


It assumes the subject line is the primary factor in email performance. (It’s not.) 


And it assumes length is the primary factor in determining subject line quality. (It’s not.)

Case in point: You opened this email and read this far…

…and the subject line is 103 characters and 20 words long. 

My best open and click rates this month came from an email I sent with this subject line: “Lessons re: stupid social ‘trends’ and the stupid people who report them.” 12 words and 72 characters. Go figure!

The primary factors in getting your emails opened and read: The “from” name and the quality of your content. 

If you write captivating, entertaining content, subscribers will look forward to receiving emails from YOU. They’ll open the emails whether the subject lines are long or short. And they’ll read to the bottom — just as you have. 

How do you create content that captivates prospects and inspires them to act? 

I’ll show you how…

…if you become a VIP member of my Content Transformation Academy. 

If you’re serious about creating client-attracting content and you’d like to know more about the Academy, reply to this email to request a free strategy session with me. We’ll discuss what’s working in your marketing, what’s not, and whether I can help fill the gaps. 

p.s. I help coaches, consultants, and business leaders discover and deliver powerful stories that captivate prospects and inspire them to act. Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”

3) Become a Story Power VIP in the Content Transformation Academy: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Weekly masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

5) Invite me to speak at an event: I can tailor a presentation that meets the specific needs of your organization. Informative. Entertaining. Virtual or live. Potential for continuing education credits when applicable for your group. If interested, reply to this email and change the subject line to “Speaking Engagement.” I’ll circle back to discuss the possibilities.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.