subject line best practices with Google InboxGoogle Inbox caused quite a stir, then kind of disappeared off of our radar screens when the holiday email season started. Yet, people were using it.

One of those people is Jared LaRock, our Director of Creative Services at ClickMail. And Jared noted something about Google Inbox that I haven’t seen anyone else point out as significant: The subject line gets top billing.

If you’re viewing your email using the Gmail app on a mobile device, you’ll see the From name is on top, with the subject line under it in a smaller font, and the preheader text below that. (See the first image below/to the right.)

On the other hand, using Google Inbox means the subject line is on top—front and center—the first and most important text you’ll see. It’s also bigger in size. The From name is demoted to the second line and it’s in a smaller size than the subject line. And the From name is followed by the preheader text. (See the second image below.)

Subject lines on top?!
This is a big change! What does this mean? Has Google discovered people are now more interested in the content of an email than the sender of same, moving the subject line up the food chain and the From name down?

Maybe in the past we defaulted to From name first because our desktop and laptop email clients display our email that way. Our eyes naturally start scanning our screens from the upper left. And when I look at the upper left of my screen, I see From names. Displaying email on a mobile device can and should free us from doing things “just because” that’s what we’re used to. Did Google test this and find a better way?

subject line best practices with Google Inbox
I do wonder if there’s something Google knows that we don’t, about how people are prioritizing what they want to open now (message vs. sender). But whether or not that’s the case, there’s one takeaway from this that you can’t deny: Subject lines now matter more than ever.

Your subject lines deserve more attention
For years, we’ve been decrying the neglected subject line, urging clients to try to write better ones and to test to discover what works. But industry wide, we can see that hastily written subject lines are still the norm.

If Google Inbox becomes a new norm, those hastily written subject lines will hurt. Only take a quick look at your inbox to see how uninteresting most of the subject lines are.

And even if Google Inbox does not become the new norm, your subject lines need more attention. The volume of email sent each day will only go up. Your customers’ inboxes will only get more crowded. Your subject line matters.

Published On: December 18th, 2014Categories: Miscellaneous email marketing topicsTags:

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

Recent Posts