Thanks to Gmail, your subject line matters more than ever

Until now, Gmail users have had to scroll down through an email and get to the bottom before finding the unsubscribe button. That meant people had to put in a lot of effort to actually leave your mailing list, and it also gave you a whole email to say something interesting enough to keep them subscribed.

Once the change rolls in, a new button will appear next to the subject line. That means users won’t even have to open your email to say goodbye to the mailing list. Each subscriber will be able to decide if they stay or if they go based entirely on the one short phrase that makes up your subject line.

That shouldn’t alter anything drastically about the way you email. Subject lines have always been crucial to open rates and engagement. But this change from Google is a great chance to take a look at how you write your subject lines and make sure you’re not sending people running away from your emails.

Three tips to writing healthy subject lines

Be Specific

People like to be understood. They want to feel like you know them and are only sending them information they are interested in. Chances are your audience is unified by at least one common interest. Make sure that theme is referenced as clearly as possible in the subject line to keep them on board.

If you can even get specific by location, all the better. Keeping separate lists of people in different locations or with different preferences is a great idea. You can then send out emails with very specific subjects and you’ll see your engagement rate skyrocket.

Ask questions

Subject lines written as questions get more opens than those that aren’t. People like to be asked questions, it makes your readers feel included in your content and they’re less likely to hit the unsubscribe button. Don’t force it if it doesn’t make sense, but use questions in your subject lines when it works.

Don’t waste space

When it comes to subject lines, shorter is better. Mailchimp’s research has shown that emails with fewer than 15 characters have the best open rates, and those with less than 39 get the most clicks. Keep this in mind when writing your subject lines.


This quick unsubscribe button is Google’s latest of several upcoming changes for Gmail users. Other shortcuts include buttons that can change restaurant reservations, launch Google Docs and respond to evites.

Also, in an attempt to streamline inboxes last year, Gmail introduced a system that labeled emails as “promotions,” “social,” or “updates”. Find out more about that here.


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