email subject line tips

Email is one of the best ways to make sales online. It lets you pitch your products and services to a targeted list people who have already shown an interest in your brand. And it converts a heck of a lot better than social media does.

But there’s an important obstacle you need to overcome if you want to use email to grow your business: you have to get people to open your emails in the first place. How do you do this? By writing powerful email subject lines.

Use these 12 email subject line tips to increase your open rates:

Make sure your emails don’t end up going straight to your subscribers’ spam folders. Download our list of 218 spam trigger words.

1. Keep them short

For most brands, there’s no link between the length of email subject lines and open rates. However, these days, most people see an email for the first time on their phone. To ensure your subject lines don’t get cut off in your subscribers’ mobile inboxes, keep them short. HubSpot recommends writing email subject lines that are no more than 50 characters long.

2. Highlight the value

If your subscribers are like most people, your email is just one of many in their inbox. To convince them that yours is worth opening, use your email subject line to highlight the value your email offers. Does it contain a link to a lead generation workbook or direct subscribers to a blog post with 50 downloadable fall recipes? Make this clear to your subscribers in your email subject line.

Example: “Triple your email list with this 3-step formula”

3. Don’t make false promises

Nobody likes to be tricked into doing things. So unless your goal is to lose subscribers, don’t write email subject lines that are meant to serve only as click bait. A subject line that promises the moon may get subscribers to open your email. But if your email doesn’t deliver on the promise, you may also end up boosting your unsubscribe rate.

Example: “Here’s our trademark ‘signature sauce’ recipe” (for an email that doesn’t actually contain the recipe or tell people how they can get it).

email subject line

4. Personalize them

Boost your open rates by personalizing your email subject line based on the name or location of individual subscribers.

Example: “Tara, how did your business do last year?”

Personalizing makes recipients feel like you’re speaking directly to them, which makes them more likely to open your email. Of course, too much personalization can start to feel creepy. But using it in moderation can help you stand out in a sea of emails.

5. Include a number

Audiences love a good list blog post. And this love carries over to the email subject lines they see in their inbox. As a result, you can increase your open rates by including a number in your email subject lines.

Example: “The 5 steps I used to plan a $25K course launch”

Related: 9 blog title generator tools to help you craft the perfect headline + 72 title templates

email subject line

6. Ask a question

Want to make your email subject lines engaging? Ask a question. People feel compelled to find answers to questions. So if you frame your subject line as a question, your subscribers may be more likely to open your email.

Example: “How are you feeling today?”

7. Begin with an action-oriented verb

Email subject lines are similar to calls to action in that they’re meant to compel your audience to take some sort of action. In the case of email, you want your subscribers to open your message. How can you make them more likely to do this? By starting your email subject line with an action verb.

Example: “Knit a scarf before Thanksgiving” instead of “How to learn the basics of knitting”.

Related: How to write a strong call to action for your website + free cheat sheet

8. Add a surprising stat

One of the best things you can do if you want to boost your open rate is to get your subscribers’ attention and pique their curiosity. How do you accomplish both of these in one tiny email subject line? You include a surprising stat.

Example: “The one web copy mistake 65% of business make”

People like to know that they’ve got the world figured out. So if you tell them something counterintuitive or that they thought was right, they’ll be compelled to find out the real answer.

9. Make them easy to read

Your subscribers are busy. So if your email subject lines are hard to read on the first attempt, your subscribers might delete your emails without trying again. Boost your open rates by using simple language and sentence structure.

Example: Swap “The best way to make course sales is to sell to your email list” with “Email: The best way to sell your online course.”

email subject line

10. Don’t become the sleazy car salesperson

If you want your subscribers to open your emails, avoid becoming the inbox equivalent of a sleazy used car salesperson. If there’s anything that will banish your email to the trash or spam folder, it’s a subject line that’s spammy or too salesy.

Example: “Buy these USB keys now!!!”

11. DON’T USE ALL CAPS!!!!! (Or excessive punctuation)

We believe this one speaks for itself.

12. A/B test them

What’s one of the best ways to find out what kinds of email subject lines your subscribers love? A/B test them. A/B testing allows you to send two emails that are the exact same except for one feature. Here are examples of email subject line features you could A/B test:

  • Personalized vs. nonpersonalized email subject lines
  • Subject lines with vs. without numbers
  • Subject lines with vs. without questions
  • Longer vs. shorter subject lines

Many email marketing programs let you set up an A/B campaign that sends different versions of your email subject line to separate groups of your subscribers. Once it’s determined the winner, it’ll send this subject line to the rest of your list.

Take the time to craft an effective email subject line

Just like a blog post headline, your email subject line may be the last thing you think about when you put together an email to send to your list. But remember, all of the time and effort you put into creating your email won’t mean anything if your subscribers don’t open it in the first place.

Craft emails that help you grow your business and boost your sales by using these 12 tips to write compelling email subject lines.

Make sure your emails don’t end up going straight to your subscribers’ spam folders. Download our list of 218 spam trigger words.

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12 email subject line tips to boost your open rate + free spam trigger word list
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