Technology Your Travel Agency

Email Subject Line Best Practices

Email Subject Line Tips for Travel Agents

Written By: Tom Ogg



I thought it would be interesting to research this topic as the subject line of your emails to clients can be the difference of delivering your message, or not. Having a robust and engaging subject line is critical to your open rate and we see it all the time. We send emails every day on behalf of clients that want to reach travel professionals. Some seem doomed from the start and others experience tremendous success. There is a lot that goes into a successful email campaign and the subject line is the first of the most important factors. We will explore all of them in future articles.


We have already discussed the importance of having a professional email address for email campaigns. is a format that works very well for email campaigns. Always avoid generic terms such as Sales@, Promotions@, Admin@ in favor of identifying the person actually sending the email. This also offers some level of personalization.


Before we get into the best practices we need a basic understanding of the reality of digital marketing in 2018. I call it the “Facebook Effect”. While a few years ago one might open an email and read it all the way through if they were interested. Today, because of the speed that we absorb information, no longer do digital marketers have the luxury of an expansive palate on which to paint their message.


The best example of this is watching video advertisements. Video advertising on can be extremely effective, or not so much depending on how the advertiser understands the reality their ad is appearing. It drives me nuts when you see an ad come on and make no point or even identify themselves before the 5-seconds occur when one can skip the rest of the ad. An ad on YouTube has only 5-seconds to engage the viewer. Since one only pays YouTube if someone either clicks on the ad or watches it for 20-seconds, not making your point during the first 5-seconds is downright incompetent.


Email subject lines live in the same reality.


The Challenge

  • Each person in business receives an average of 121 emails per day
  • Between 60% to 70% of all email is viewed on a mobile device
  • Almost 50% of all email is considered spam
  • Email recipients delete as much as 65% of messages based on the subject line.
  • The mobile click-to-open rate for U.S. marketing email is 13.7 percent.
  • The desktop click-to-open rate for U.S. marketing email is 18 percent.
  • Thirty-three percent of mobile users say they’ve read an email based on its subject line
  • The iPhone is the most popular mobile device for email opens
  • 35% of recipients open email based solely on the subject line.
  • 65% report email as spam based on the subject line
  • 43% report email as spam based on the “From” name or email address.


It is quite easy to see the challenge when engaging in an email marketing campaign. There is a lot of competition in a person’s inbox and the challenge is to entice the person to open your email and read the message. A solid subject line message should accomplish this task.


Desktop, Notebook and Tablet vs. Mobile

This is the first challenge that an email marketer faces. While subject lines with between 61-70 characters are the most opened and read (followed by those with 51 to 60 and 91-100) most smart phones only display 28 to 32 characters of the subject line. This is exactly like the YouTube video ad that doesn’t make its point within the first 5-seconds of the video. You should make a valid point during the first 28 to 32 characters. By not optimizing these first characters you will never obtain high CTRs (Click Through Rates)


Here is an example of marketing an ebook on digital marketing for travel suppliers. Note that this is just representative of what could be an email for anything.


What someone on a smart phone see.

Travel eMarketing Fails, Why?


This is what someone on a desktop, notebook or tablet sees

Travel eMarketing Fails, Why? Why are Travel Supplier’s eMail Campaigns Failing?


If the first 28 to 32 characters were not optimized for mobile devices, this is what they would probably see

Why are Travel Suppliers eMail Ca


You can easily see that the mobile version is going to stimulate clicks when optimized and not so much when not optimized.


Types of Subject Lines That Get Clicked On

While good subject line writing is a challenge for some, but not for others there are specific genres of subject lines that seem to garner more clicks. The trick is to understand the action that you want the reader to take. In the case of the above example, one may want the reader to click to a landing page where they can download a free ebook on digital marketing. Another objective might be to get the reader to click on a link to a blog post, or website. Understanding what you specific objective is for the email is the key to building your subject line.


The subject line of your email must be consistent with the action that you want the reader to take once he or she opens it and starts reading the content of the email. And, the subject line should be the “hook” that engages the reader to take action. Then the body of the email is the romance that encourages one more click to take action. Like all romances the process should be enjoyable and non-invasive. Here are types of subject lines that get clicks.



Questions promote curiosity and the desire to know the answer. A well crafted question can motivate readers to seek the answer. The question(s) in your subject line should compel the reader to take further action by opening the email to find the answer to the question. Depending on your objective they may have to click on another link to arrive at the final answer. Using questions to engage a person’s curiosity is an excellent way to build subject lines.



Boy the airlines really understand this tactic. How many times have you seen the message “Only One Left” when booking flights? Or “Sale Ends Tomorrow!” Of course, when you return a couple weeks later they are still in short supply. You can use this tactic to in your subject line by announcing “Just a Few Left” or “Book By (a certain date) implying that the offer will not be available after that date. Using the word “Tomorrow” is a powerful motivator to take action immediately, so the opportunity is not lost. Playing on people’s fear of loss is a powerful motivator for clicks.


Free Offers

Offering potential clients free offers is a great way of introducing yourself and your services. If you specialize is selling everything Disney, why not create a free ebook on “How to Make the Most of Your Time at DisneyLand and California Adventure Park” You can easily craft some excellent subject lines like “Disney Park Fanatics Get MORE! Find Out How Families Get More Disney While Paying Less.”



If you are marketing to existing clients make your offerings exclusive by giving them the first opportunity to book before being offered to the general public. Don’t send a flyer, send a personal invitation as one of your best and most valuable clients. Having an “exclusive” list is the best way to guarantee your subject lines work.



Travel offers numerous opportunities to use humor in subject lines. Depending on your niche, they can be both humorous and informative. “The Flight Attendant Said This”


Improving Email Effectiveness on Smart Phones.

Optimize Pre-Header Text: The pre-header text follows the sender’s name and subject line in an email and is generally displayed on most smart phones and mobile devices. While users can modify their pre-header, or preview settings, most users see one line of text. By optimizing the first line of text in your email you can add validity as to why they should click to open it.


Optimize Above the Fold: When folks click to open your email on a smart phone make sure that your call to action appears on the opening screen. The minimum size for your CTA should be 50 x 50 pixels. If they are interested they will scroll down to read your specific value proposition and then return to the call to action to continue. By including a second call to action at the end of the presentation you make it that much easier to take action.


Bullet Points and Text: Whenever possible make your points as concisely as possible. Bullet points are exceptionally effective at conveying information. Avoid long paragraphs in favor of short ones. Remember that the screen the reader is using is small and by making your message easy to read and understand you will gain more click throughs.


Forget the Pictures: Many smart phones will not show pictures in email by default and most pictures take up too much real estate for a mobile device. If you do include a picture make sure that it is optimized at 72 dpi and sized properly for a mobile device. Nothing will cause a reader to trash your email than staring at a blank screen waiting for a picture to load.


Minimalistic is Best: Nothing turns readers off faster than clicking on an email only to find wall to wall text. Take a lesson from uber-successful marketers like Google and Apple. Once you have written your email try to see just how many words you can eliminate while still keeping the message strong. Take that space and turn it into white space or background color if you are using color. The easier your email is to read the more people will read it.