Email Subject Lines: 7 Tips & Best Practices For Improved Open Rates

Look. I get it.

Subject lines can be tricky.

You’re wondering:

  1. How do I make my subject line short and sweet while still getting my point across?
  2. How do I grab my audience’s attention, make them stop mid-scroll as they’re sorting through emails in their inbox?
  3. How do I boost the effectiveness of my subject lines and still keep my readers wanting to learn more?

According to Conviceandconvert:

33 percent of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based solely on the subject line.

In other words, subject lines can make or break your email marketing campaign.

3 reasons why your subject lines SUCK (And what to do about it)

Trying to get anyone to notice and actually open your emails is hard. Let’s take a look at the three most common blunders that cause subject lines to fall flat.

1. You’re giving it all away

Like headlines, the best email subject lines are creative, compelling and Informative without giving too much away.

2. You’re not keeping mobile in mind

With most devices, the part of the email that is going to be highlighted the most on a mobile device is the “From Line” not the subject line itself.

3. You’re not giving enough thought on subject lines

Great subject lines can quickly inspire recipients to open your emails, engage and click through to read more. Take your time.

7 Remarkable Subject Line Tricks That Will Get Your Emails More Opens

When you’re writing your next subject line, follow these 7 simple steps to craft irresistible subject lines that’ll improve your overall engagement and get your emails more opens.

1. Be concise. Be succinct.

What good is your subject line if people can’t read it?

With 40% of emails being opened on mobile first, your subject lines will get cut off if they’re too long.

The rule of thumb is keeping your subject line short, and sweet.


Studies prove that sometimes, people like long subject lines:


 Image Source: MailChimp

Sometimes they like short:

short-subject-linesImage Source: MailChimp

Sometimes, as your subject line gets longer [or shorter]

They don’t even give a damn!


    Image Source: MailChimp

Therefore, although brevity is crucial.

And you want to be aware of how your subject line will appear on mobile.

It really comes down to running A/B split tests on few of your campaigns where you vary subject line length and see what works for you.


2. Get Personal

According to Experian data cited in “How Pairing Personalization & Automation Can Skyrocket Email Conversions” on the Kissmetrics blog:

“Personalized subject lines enhance email opens at a 50 percent higher rate compared to emails without personalized subject lines.”


         Image Source: Experian

Since everyone loves the sound of their own name. To add a feeling of rapport or boost your open rate and engagement…

…try including the recipient’s first name or other personal information like the location in the subject line.

Here’s a great example I found in my inbox:

“Nadeem, do you really understand your clients?”


Note: Putting the wrong name, location or any other personal information in the subject line may put you on a quick path to an email trash folder.


3. Tease, pique their curiosity and don’t give everything

Humans are deeply curious beings. 

One way to stand out in a crowded inbox is to tease, intrigue and pique the curiosity of your email recipients.


Powerful strategies include:

  1. Asking thought-provoking or unexpected questions.
  2. Teasing… just a little
  3. Tickling the ‘information gap’

Note: While you want your subject line to be enigmatic, make sure it still aligns with your brand. Too obscure, and it could end up being seen as spam.

Examples of curiosity subject lines include:

  • “It’s all you: It always was you”
  • “good news (oh and even better news)”
  • “Hey, it’s me, your angel… Open the window!”


4. Command with action-oriented verbs

Subject lines are similar to headlines and calls-to-actions…


Image Source: Laughingsquid

According to a case study cited by Unbounce:

“You can increase your conversions by a whopping 38.26% by replacing just one action verb with another.“  [CTAs]

calls-to-action-that-convert-minor-changeImage Source: Unbounce

To boost your email open rate…

…you want the language you use in the subject line to inspire people to click and read through to what you have to say.

Examples of action-oriented subject lines include:

  • “Get your THREE special bonuses (they are sooooo good!)”
  • “Get this now! A simpler way to manage custom storefronts”


5. Convey a sense of urgency

There’s no denying the power of urgency to drive massive conversions.

If your subject line doesn’t feature some type of urgency, it’s time to include it.

Think about it: Why do infomercials work so well?

What’s more:

“Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate than those that do not.” [Source: Hubspot]


Examples of urgency subject lines include:

  • [Flash Sale] 80% discount over tomorrow night.
  • Tonight, whoop, tonight (heads up)
  • [Last Call] Grab lifetime access before the price goes up


6. Be as specific and as concrete as possible

Your emails have a better chance of being opened and read if you write specific subject lines that catch people’s attention.

Specificity means using concrete details, solid facts and hard numbers.

A number like 83.4% feels too random and thus, too real to be made up.

For example, “Over 50%” is a much less intriguing number than “53%”, let alone “53.7%”.

Examples of specific and concrete subject lines include:

  • [NEW EDITION] 7 ways to write convincingly
  • [FREE WEBINAR] 4 steps to a 6-Figure speaking career
  • Nadeem, here are the 7 steps to building your personal brand

Note: This is not an excuse to play fast and loose with your numbers. Stick to numbers that are real results you can back up.


7. Optimize your preview text

Think of your preview text as your subject line – part 2.

While it isn’t technically part of your subject line, it does appear right near the subject line.


If you want to improve your open rates, consider using this space to add a new, yet related content to keep the message interesting but consistent.

Final Thoughts:

Subject lines are the very first impressions you have on your email recipients…

… probably, a marketer’s ticket for standing out in a crowded inbox.

Therefore, take your time, and write a compelling subject line by keeping it short, sweet and concise.

Tease, don’t give everything. Write for your audience. And test, test, test.  

There’s no formula for writing the perfect subject line – it all depends on what your subscribers respond to…

Over to you – Did I miss any subject line tricks you’d like to share?

Let me know in the comment section below…

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About the author

Nadeem is the battle-tested content writer at Cloudy.

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