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How To Write The Most Compelling Email Subject Lines

Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels.

  • It’s highly targeted
  • It’s immediate
  • It’s very cheap
  • It enables you to build up relationships over time.


All small businesses should be doing it.


But ………. Open rates can be very low.


Emailing a warm list is likely to give you a 15 -30% open rate while a cold list may give you figures as low as 5%.

Email Marketing

Your email has got to stand out, to immediately shout “ You must open me”.


This, therefore, comes down to the subject line.


This is what recipients see in their inbox and determines whether the email will be opened or not.


So how do you write subject lines that will get your emails opened?


There are two different approaches to this.


  1. To describe precisely what the email is about so that people can decide whether it’s relevant to them.


My inbox is full of emails like this and I open very few of them.


  1. The second approach is to use more creative, more engaging lines in which the subject matter isn’t immediately obvious.


This is the approach I normally use – I’m trying to intrigue and interest people so they say “That sounds interesting – I’ll have a look”.


The bottom line is that your subject line has got to grab attention and stimulate a reaction.

Email Marketing

For me the all time worst subject line has to be “February Newsletter”. There is absolutely nothing in that that suggests I’m going to get value out of opening it.


The great thing is that modern email systems allow you to split test subject lines with the email being automatically sent to the more successful one.


Whichever approach you take, here are a few tips to help you write better subject lines.


Appeal to a human need – highlight a problem that your audience suffers from and then obviously supply the solution in the body copy.


Ask a question – questions immediately engage the reader and if it’s a question that’s relevant to the reader, they’re likely to open the email.


Make a special offer – although you have to be very careful with spam filters, special offers are always attractive to the right people.


Include the word “You” – by including the word “You”, you are immediately talking to and involving the reader.

Email Marketing

Make it extraordinary – whether extraordinary facts or extraordinary words, you’re aiming for stand out in the inbox.


Make it relevant – you must ensure that your subject line is supported by the content of the email. If the body copy of the email doesn’t relate to the subject line, your readers will feel cheated.


However good your subject line, you must remember that it is only the headline to the email. It’s the content of the email that has to do the selling.


If you need help with drafting impactful subject lines that get emails opened or emails that make sales (or even how to reduce your site’s bounce rates), get in touch on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk  or call 01483 200387.