Your email marketing is still the best way to reach your customers because it’s the only platform that allows you to control your content and make sure all of your customers receive it.

But if your subject line isn’t creative or engaging, your content will sit in an inbox, unread, or simply get deleted. Consider these stats: a recent study from iContact indicated that 47 percent of email recipients open an email message based on subject, alone. Comparatively, about 69 percent of recipients report an email as spam based on the subject, alone.

It makes sense, given how frequently most people communicate via email these days. Inboxes are more cluttered than ever and it’s easy for your message to get lost in the crowd, or reported in an attempt to pare down unwanted messages. Here are some best practices for email subject lines:

Make it personal. Personalized subject lines are 22 percent more likely to be opened, but don’t stop there. Mention something that the reader will care about. You personal pronouns, like ‘my,’ ‘you,’ or ‘your.’ In general, you want to make your customers feel special with your email marketing. Include birthday wishes, if you can get them to provide that information, and thank you’s.

Be concise. Avoid misleading subject lines, or open-ended questions and statements that could be looked at as click bait. There is power in clarity. Confidence, too.

Use effective words. Strong words will help gain your readers’ attention. Some examples are: congratulations, reminder, alert, please read, information enclosed or thank you. Combined with a personal greeting, these subject lines created an 80 percent open rate.

Use keywords to make your email easier to find. Many consumers use their inbox as a make-shift file folder, keeping emails of interest around to go through later. Including a word they would likely search for will make it easier on them. Special, discount or, our favorite, free usually work well. Also, include your company’s name, if it’s not spelled out in your own email address.

Characters can help distinguish your email from the slush pile, too. Use a dollar sign, if it’s appropriate to your message, or an ellipsis, which will clue your readers in that there’s more to come. Even an exclamation point can help—as long as you only use one. If you use more than one, not only will you look unprofessional, your email could get tagged as spam.

Likewise, there are things you should avoid doing with your email subject lines (and marketing email in general). Don’t use all caps—many times that will earn an instant ‘delete.’ It also looks unprofessional at best, and desperate at worst.

Don’t try to trick your readers, or create a subject line that your content will not fulfill. If there’s one thing people hate, it’s being tricked into clicking on some click bait link.

Don’t make your email subject line about you, don’t overdo it and don’t send too many reminders. Remember, you most likely have your customers’ email because they opted into your list on the promise that you would provide something of value. Don’t risk that relationship with a barrage of messages.

Your email marketing is one of the best, most important ways to reach your customers. With these tips, you’ll help ensure that your message comes across loud and clear.

How do you set up your email marketing messages? Let us know in the comments!