Email subject lines are the most important part of your email copy. They’re a first impression and determine whether your email gets opened or not. No opens = no sales.

But writing a successful subject line is no easy task. An average office worker receives over 100 emails a day. We all get hundreds of newsletters and promotional emails a week.

Most never get opened.

A great subject line makes your emails stand out in those overpopulated inboxes. Writing one is an art that’s importance shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are some basics to follow.

#1: Tell Them What to Expect When They Open the Email

Sometimes marketers are tempted to use attention-grabbing subject lines just to get those opens. If you’re only measuring opens, that may seem like an attractive option. But you should never make false promises to boost your open rate. Clickbait is the worst, and you will 100% lose customer trust.

Clearly let the recipient know what to expect inside. If they just subscribed to download an ebook, say something straightforward like, “Your new ebook awaits.”  No need to get fancy – save yourself and your customer time and get to the point.

email subject lines

#2: Be Urgent or Imply Time Sensitivity

Another classic tactic in marketing is urgency. If you’ve carefully planned your communications (with the help of CRM and marketing automation), there’s a very specific time you’d like the recipient to open that email.  When someone glances at your subject line, you want them to take action.

But we all like to procrastinate. That’s where urgency and implied time sensitivity comes in. It makes people take said action. An example would be, “24 Hours Only!” or “Get This Deal Before It’s Gone.” There’s no time like the present so make sure your audience knows that.

email subject lines

If you don’t mind your audience pushing off your email for later…well, that’s a whole separate issue.

#3: Imply Exclusivity

Similar to urgency, exclusivity helps with open rates. We all like to feel special; it’s an inherently human trait. In addition to “exclusive,” words such as “private” and “personal” work well too.

email subject lines

#4: Keep It Short

Over 50% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. With that in mind, you want to make your subject lines fit onto mobile screens so that those 50% get to read them.

Brevity is a must for any email though. With our attention spans getting shorter and shorter, no one is going to take time to read a manifesto in hopes that something good is waiting at the end.

#5: Align It With the Headline and Call-to-Action

Your email should read like a story, with everything aligned. From subject lines to headlines, images, content, and CTAs. In fact, if recipients completely skip the email body and go right to the CTA, they should still be able to understand what they’re getting based on the subject line and header.

#6: Personalize It

Using personalized subject lines creates a sense of rapport. Using the customer’s name, location, or other personalization tokens can significantly boost your open rates, as well as CTR. But personalize tactfully. A generic subject line that is auto-filled with a recipient’s first and last name will come across as cheesy and inauthentic.

email subject lines

#7: Use Action-Oriented Verbs

Subject lines are your initial call to action. The language you use should inspire the receiver to take action and open the email. Something like, “Get Your Free Voucher” sounds much better than generic phrasing like “Free Voucher Inside.”

email subject lines

#8: Use a Familiar Sender Name

People want to do business with people. It’s the same in email marketing. If your email address is “noreply@company.com,” your communications will come across as impersonal.

On the other hand, if the recipient sees an email coming from Tom@company.com and the subject line is personalized too, you’ll build familiarity over time and improve open (and read) rates.

#9: Segment Your Lists

We’ve said it many times before: segmentation leads to much better email marketing results. Based on your customer segments, you can create highly relevant subject lines.

The more relevant your subject line, the higher your open rates. So, make sure you create your buyer personas and send out relevant campaigns.

#10: Time It Right

A well-timed email with a well-executed subject line can seriously boost your results. A great example Warby Parker’s customer email that says, “”Uh-oh, Your Prescription is Expiring,” in the subject line. They send it two weeks before the expiration date. Pre-event outreach is another easy time to increase the likelihood that your recipients won’t trash your emails.

email subject lines

#11: Pose a Relevant Question

A relevant question will draw your audience in. Especially if it’s relevant to their buyer persona. For example, if you’re a fitness coaching company, something like, “how can you lose weight this summer?” will work for someone losing weight but not for someone who is looking to gain muscle.

email subject lines

#12: A/B Test

Don’t forget to test a variety of subject lines. In fact, A/B testing is one of (if not the) most important rule on this list. Never stop testing and optimizing. The market (and your customer needs) are sure to change, and you need to adapt to stay relevant.