How to Write a Subject Line for an Email That Actually Gets Opened

email graphic popping up on a laptop
Welcome to the ultimate guide on crafting irresistible email subject lines that will elevate your marketing game! In the fast-paced world of digital communication, your subject line is the gatekeeper to your email’s success. Let’s dive into the best practices that will make your subject lines stand out, engage your audience, and boost your open rates.

Best Practices for Email Subject Lines

1. Add Personalization: Make It All About Them
Personalization is the key to forging a connection with your audience. Utilize merge tags to include the recipient’s name or location in the subject line. As Hubspot points out in their email subject line guide, incorporating personalization tokens like names can create a sense of rapport and increase click-through rates. For instance, “John, Exclusive Offers Just for You” makes your recipients feel valued and exclusive. This personal touch can also significantly increase open rates, especially when combined with targeted automation like birthday discounts or post-purchase follow-ups/thank you’s.

2. Get to the Point: Be Direct and Concise
In the era of mobile dominance and instant gratification, brevity is key.

“The brain is wired to make a clear, quick yes-or-no decision—fight or flight, click or scroll, read or ignore, remember or forget. The dopamine blast of a great idea or word buys you a few more seconds of someone’s time. Every word is a battle for additional time and attention.”

– Smart Brevity by Jim Vandehei

Crafting subject lines that are clear, specific, and under 50 characters to ensure they capture attention on all devices is extremely important. Instead of vague lines, go for direct communication that highlights the benefits of your email. For example, “Discover Proven Consulting Solutions!” tells recipients exactly what they can expect when they open your email and why it benefits them to open the email.

3. Start with Action-Oriented Verbs: Inspire Action
Elevate your email marketing with dynamic verbs that inspire action. Action-oriented subject lines not only make your emails enticing but also enhance the exclusivity and make you the solution to their problem or need. Whether it’s terms like “Inspire,” “Transform,” or “Discover,” choose a language that aligns seamlessly with the premium experience your brand delivers. The goal is to create subject lines that evoke a sense of urgency and excitement, prompting your audience to engage. This approach transcends industries, ensuring that your brand’s messaging captivates attention and motivates clicks across various sectors.

Examples of Action-Oriented Verbs in email subject lines:

  • “Revitalize Your Strategy”
  • “Transform Your Environment Starting Now”
  • “Optimize Operations: Drive Efficiency with Our Solutions!”

4. Make People Feel Exclusive/Special: Create a VIP Experience
Exclusivity is the secret sauce. Use words that make your recipients feel like VIPs; like being a member of a secret club. When people feel they’re part of it, they get that warm, fuzzy feeling of belonging. This makes them super loyal and eager to take action when they get your emails. Using the right words can make your emails feel extra special. Here are some simple ways to do it:

  • “Just for our special customers…”
  • “This offer is only for you…”
  • “A gift, just from us to you…”
  • “You’re invited to the party!”
  • “Your special invite is here…”

5. Create a Sense of Urgency or Pose a Question: Drive Engagement
Harness the power of urgency with subject lines that evoke the fear of missing out. The “fear of missing out” (FOMO) can be a powerful motivator. A study by Omnisend found that subject lines with a sense of urgency had a 22.6% higher average open rate than those without. However, overusing urgency can lead to diminishing returns. To strike a balance, use urgency when the occasion genuinely calls for immediate action, such as flash sales or limited-time offers. This maintains the credibility of your brand and keeps recipients engaged.

Examples of creating urgency in our email subject lines

  • “Last Chance for Exclusive Savings!”
  • “Hurry, Limited Availability – Upgrade Your Experience Now!”
  • Limited-Time Offer: Unlock Exclusive Benefits Today!

Besides urgency, posing a question in subject lines can also be a powerful engagement tool, especially when they resonate with your audience. According to Litmus, emails with question-based subject lines tend to have a 10-14% higher open rate. For instance, a subject line like “Do You Know the Best Time to Invest?” directly engages the recipient and encourages them to open the email to discover the answer. However, relevance is key. Align your questions with the interests and needs of your target audience to pique their curiosity effectively.

Examples of posing a question in our email subject lines

  • “Ready for a Fresh Perspective?”
  • “Want to Uncover Your Unique Taste?”
  • “Curious How Our Consultation Can Elevate Your Business?”
person on a laptop with email icons around their hands

How to Write Effective Email Subject Lines For Your Business

Now that we’ve explored essential tips for writing compelling email subject lines tailored to your business, let’s delve into the practical “how-to” aspect. Armed with these insights, the next step is to apply them effectively to engage your audience and boost your business’s email marketing success. Let’s shift our focus from the theoretical to the actionable, uncovering a step-by-step process to write a good subject line that captivates, persuades, and drives results for your unique brand.

Step 1: Define Your Email’s Purpose
Start by understanding why you’re sending the email. Let the true intention be the foundation of your subject line.

Step 2: Create a Tempting Call to Action
Entice recipients with a compelling call to action. Offer discounts, freebies, or vital information to make them eager to explore the transformative experience your email promises.

Step 3: Inject Relevance
Stand out by adding time-sensitive or exclusive offers that connect with the unique product or services your business offers.

Step 4: Brainstorm Multiple Subject Lines
Generate various subject lines with different wording and tones. Having options allows you to choose the most effective one.

Step 5: Seek Feedback
Get colleagues to share their preferences. A fresh perspective can be invaluable for your business’ email campaigns.

Step 6: A/B Test
Consistently perform ongoing A/B tests to find the most effective subject line that resonates with your audience. Use it to captivate your audience in your upcoming business email marketing campaigns.

Now armed with these tips, go ahead and transform your email subject lines into attention-grabbing masterpieces. Your audience is waiting, so make every subject line count!

people meeting in office

At OTM, our inbound marketing services seamlessly align with the core principles of attracting, engaging, delighting, and ultimately growing your audience. Through strategic content planning, precise social media engagement, and targeted email marketing campaigns, we ensure that your audience not only discovers value in your offerings but stays engaged throughout their journey. At OTM, our commitment is not just to attract attention but to cultivate lasting connections that contribute to the sustained growth of your business. Set up a brief consultation today.