If you’re anything like us, your personal inbox is flooded with hundreds, if not, thousands of unread emails. There are likely many reasons you’ve never opened these emails. While sometimes, it’s probably because you are just overly inundated with content or you just don’t have the time, the idea is to get people opening your emails as much as possible.

The first impression you make in an inbox is the subject line. It might even be more important than the body itself! There are dozens of ways that marketers get attention, and the top way is likely by creating a compelling subject line.  Today, we’re covering several options you can use to create more opens in your newsletters, and get more eyes on your content!


1. Simple, No Nonsense Email Subject Lines

According to Mailchimp, they found that short, descriptive lines are better than the cheesy ones. It might not work in every industry, but it’s worth considering, especially if you run A/B testing! You’ll be able to get a clearer perspective on what works for your audience!
It’s worth noting that this works better on users who have already interacted with your brand/company. If they haven’t, you might want to consider testing out other options!

2. Funny or Light Email Subject Lines

Many of us live with the philosophy that leading with humor is an excellent start! They’ll certainly stick out amongst the dry emails people are already receiving. It’s worth signing up for a few of your competitor’s newsletters to see what they’re putting out.
Here are some examples:

  • “Wallet Feeling ? 30% Off Should Help”
  • “Since we can’t all win the lottery …”
  • “I like you better than my nephew right now.”

The lottery subject line adds a lighthearted touch, in the event that maybe you’re offering a sale or discount. Most people “get” the feeling of not winning the lottery. All these examples are relatable, and might induce even a little chuckle. The subject line doesn’t have to be laugh out loud hilarious to get attention, but it can certainly stand out from all the other lines the user is undoubtedly receiving.

As a note, a couple of subject examples were taken from Hubspot, who has many more samples available!

3. Controversial/Shocking Email Subject Lines

While shocking consumers might not be the best, it might also work in your favor if you do it right. Tread carefully. It could even be humorous, when someone is expecting one thing and the email ends up being about something else.
For this to work, you have to make sure you truly understand your audience. It’s a potential gamble, but might pay off big in the end!
Examples of Controversy Marketing:

  • Pronouns: Do you have a social responsibility to care?
  • Your Honor Roll Student is Definitely Smarter than Most CEOs
  • Your Social Media Strategy Sucks

All of these subject lines leave out crucial information, which will lead the user to ponder exactly what on EARTH is going on! While “Your Social Media Sucks” seems like an attack, it can be an excellent leeway into an article you’re sending about social media tips, and how they can amplify their messages even more!

While the subject line doesn’t necessarily say anything, it leads the user to think that maybe you are about to say something that will upset them. Many of them cannot resist the temptation to click!

4. Single-Word Subject Lines

One strategy I see rarely used is a single-word subject line. Minimalism is attractive for a certain subset of users, and sometimes the length of the subject line will catch the eye over anything else. Use words that have impact. Here are some examples:

  • Panic
  • Oops!
  • Ouch!

Panic, is a particularly powerful word. Should they panic? What are they panicking about? What would your first thoughts be, if you received an email with this subject line? These words are emotionally impactful, and can create positive emotions, as long as the email is appropriately framed.

5. Email Subject Lines with Numbers & Lists

Think about what makes an excellent blog title. You’ve seen many a clickbait article named “9 Email Subject Lines to Increase your Open Rate” or something similar. *ahem* This tells the user what to expect when they open the email (or blog) so that they have a mission in mind.

Numbers attract attention, and that’s why many list articles have become the cornerstone of internet content. It also tells the user that they’re in for something that they can likely read and consume quickly. They’re visually jarring, whether positive or negative, and easy to remember.
Since these create visual interest, users are more likely to click!

6. Personalized Subject Lines

Many email tools have the ability to sort people out, via location. Inserting a name might not be as impactful, as many users know it’s automated, but using location specific subject lines can create interest because it’s tailored to the user in question.

By using remarketing, it’s easy to collect this data as soon as a user interacts with your website. While remarketing via data from your website, you can insert a programmatic pixel that collects information as well for even more advanced emails.

Thrillist is a brand that does this well, by tailoring ads for the city the user is in. If you’re in San Diego, for example, you might get emails that say, “9 of the Best Burgers in San Diego”. That’s far more attention grabbing because it is directly relevant to the user’s interest.

7. Questions & Other Punctuation in Email Subject Lines

Adding any unusual punctuation often grabs attention. Simply asking a question might tempt users to open up an email, if they’d like to know the answer.

Asking them a question immediately gets their wheels turning, hopefully creating engagement. It creates a fairly one-sided dialogue. An exclamation point does, as well, to a certain extent, but it doesn’t get the wheels turning nearly as much.

Additionally, emojis create more visual interest, letting the emails stand out amongst the others with a pop of color!

setp- 7

Above, Instacart creates interest with an emoji, in addition to something that is going to benefit the user. SOL Body also does an excellent job creating visual interest by using lowercase letters and a bright emoji. It stands out amongst the other emails in my inbox for that reason!

8. Creating FOMO & Other Tactics

Social media users have a deep seated fear of missing out. Now, marketers use that fear to create sales. Sounds terrible, but it’s true.

Using email lines that create some sort of scarcity will give many users plenty of inspiration to click. Throw in some of these phrases and test it out for yourself!

  • Limited Time Offer
  • Action required!
  • One Day Left!

Try including these in your subject lines, and see how it affects your overall open rate!

9. Mysterious Email Subject Lines

Using something vague will often help inspire enough curiosity for a user to uncover something new. Here is an excellent example.

setp- 7

setp- 7

These emails create extra curiosity, because they create questions in the user’s mind upon receipt.

Email Subject Line Best Practices

Some general good email subject line best practices to keep in mind when crafting those lures.

  • Write multiple subject lines, and then choose the best ones.
  • Keep it as minimal as possible. You want their attention within seconds!
  • Alliteration. Try this when writing subject lines!
  • Never, ever use all caps. IT REALLY LOOKS BAD IN AN INBOX.
  • Know your audience. Sign up for some of your competitors and see what they’re doing. Then you can ensure you’re crafting something superior or just as eye catching!
  • Read clickbait headlines from sites like Buzzfeed. The same reasons people click on their content, will be the same reasons they click on yours.
  • Keep your name or business in the from field. People need transparency to ensure they can trust you.
  • Pay attention to the preview line. It should also be attention grabbing, and good email marketing software should provide you with the option to customize it.

If your open rates suck, starting with the subject line is the first step to email marketing success. Make sure that users also have the option for a plain text version, as many might not have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *