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How to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line

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According to The Radicati Group, 281 billion emails are sent and received each day in 2018 with each individual typically receiving upwards of 120 messages in their inbox per day. With so much noise, many emails received go straight to spam or are deleted without being read.

Aside from the email sender, the subject line is one of the most critical factors in this, and is the basis for a recipient opening an email 33% of the time. Despite this, subject lines are often added as an afterthought with very little care or consideration but they can have an enormous impact on your message open and response rates. This article offers 10 tips to help optimise subject lines to encourage candidates to click and read. 

1) Keep it Short

How Long is the Perfect Subject Line-

(Data from

Research has shown that keeping subject lines under 40 characters is best.  This is particularly the case given that just over half of emails now are opened on mobiles, with most devices only displaying 25-30 characters before being cut off. A great subject line should therefore offer a compelling reason for the recipient to open the message in as few words as possible. Trying removing adverbs, adjectives pronouns and prepositions and using numerals instead of written out numbers to achieve this. If you must add characters, ensure that the most important content is placed at the beginning of the subject line. 

Free tools such as Zurb’s Test Subject offer previews as to how your subject line will appear on various mobile devices. 

2) Make it personal

Personalization within the subject line can be one of the most powerful ways to increase open rate. Just mentioning the candidate’s name in your subject line can increase open rates by as much as 26%. But with Beamery you don’t have to stop there, you can also include variables referencing something like education, job title or company in your email subject lines. For example:

Note: to add variables into the subject line, simply insert them into the main body of the email and the cut and paste into the subject line bar. 

3) Use Emojis

Using emojis in subject lines has been shown to help emails stand out in inboxes, make messages more memorable and increase open rates. Used correctly, they can be a powerful tool for communicating effectively when space is limited.

To add emojis, simply find the emoji you require on a site such as and paste into your Beamery campaign. 

Note: Some browsers do not support the use of emoji, so they might not always display correctly. We recommend previewing your message in other email clients and using emojis to supplement rather than replace words. 

4) Why not try asking a question?

Whenever you sit down to write an email to a candidate you’ve never spoken to, there should be only one thing on your mind. How can I start a dialogue with this person? The best recruiters know the value of building a relationship and starting a conversation with candidates before ‘selling’ their opportunity. One of the best ways to start a dialogue is to include a question in your subject line. The question doesn’t have to be about a role you’re trying to fill. Examples could include:

💰4k for personal development - how would you spend it? 💰
🇩🇪How about a move to Berlin, (name)? 🇩🇪
Noticed you were part of [project] – what was your motivation for getting involved? 


No one likes to be yelled at, so this should go without saying but have a peek in your spam folders and it is almost guaranteed there will still be subject lines entirely in caps. This can automatically trigger spam filters and increase unsubscribe rates so is best to avoid. 

6) Go easy on the special characters & excessive punctuation!!!! ***

Similar to excessive use of capital letters, abusing special characters and punctuation often triggers spam filters. Even if your email somehow makes it into your recipient’s inbox, this tactic can make it harder to read and digest the message. 

7) Be Honest

The goal of sending Beamery campaigns is to build long term relationships with talent and ultimately encourage them to join your organization. Avoid using misleading content in your subject lines, or adding ‘RE’ or “FWD’ to imply that your message is part of a pre-existing email chain. This might get a few extra clicks short term, but this can damage your brand, cause candidates to unsubscribe and often ensure that they never apply! 

8) Avoid Spam Words

Spam filters are so strong these days that sometimes emails get filtered out without your recipient ever knowing. Certain words and phrases are known to trigger spam filters so are best avoided in messages where possible. 

Examples of words and phrases that fall into this category:

Quick, Urgent, Free, Additional Income, Be your own boss, Earn more, Home-based, Work from home, Satisfaction, 100%, Problem, Open, Click, Today, Call, Amazing, Opportunity

9) Follow up touch points

With Beamery’s multi-touchpoint drip campaigns, make the most of the ability to change the subject line in your follow up touch points. Tweaking the subject line slightly, whilst still referencing the content of the message, gives you a second chance to find something that resonates with your recipient and persuades them to open to message. Don’t be afraid to also reference your previous attempt or reiterate your call to action. Examples could include: 

 “Hey, did you forget to open this?”
“Can we arrange a coffee (name)?”
“Want to know more (name)?”
“Not the right time, (name)?"
"I'm still keen to speak (name) ☎️🙏"

10) Test, test and test again. 

There are several great free tools that exist to help check the effectiveness of your subject line. Most of these show how these will be viewed on mobile, identify any potential spam triggers and offer suggestions on how to improve the impact of your subject line. 

(Beamery does not have an affiliation with any of these.)

Once you are happy,  make sure to preview your campaign and send a test to yourself or to your colleagues to ensure that it is appearing as anticipated. 

To get even more scientific, why not try some A/B testing and send a slightly different subject line to half of your recipients and compare results in our campaign reports? 

 Additional resources to help you improve your campaign response rates:

Beamery guide to recruitment marketing
Beamery candidate experience playbook


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