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10 Simple Tips for Writing a Killer Email Subject Line

You can create the best, most conversion-oriented email in the world, but if your readers aren’t interested in your subject line, that message will get lost in the oblivion of the overcrowded inbox. It’ll get pushed further and further down the stream of new messages until it’s forgotten forever.

It’s true: There are more than 1B emails sent and received each day. So without a strong subject line, you could be setting your email marketing efforts up to fail. Nobody likes to fail.

To help you out, we’ve put together some simple, straightforward tips for writing a killer email subject line that will help drive up your open rates and get you more readers who are excited to hear from you.

1. Keep it real.

No one likes an email subject line that sounds like it was written by a robot–write like a human, for other humans. Even better: Include personalization in your subject line by inserting the recipient’s first name. As humans, we’re drawn to recognize our own names in writing–and it just makes the message feel more tailor-made.

2. Brevity = Clarity.

Most email experts recommend no more than 50 characters in a strong subject line, so try to keep things short and sweet–you’ll do most of the talking within the message body.

3. Customize preview text.

Rather than leaving the standard “Not displaying correctly?” message as preview text, be sure to modify the preview message for each unique email campaign so the reader can get a good idea of what’s on the other side of the subject line.

4. Use words that express value.

People are compelled to open an email if they see it will produce something of value to them (like a great how-to lesson, a discount, or a sneak peek.) Use words like ‘grow’, ‘improve’, ‘free’, and ‘easy’ to explain why your message is worth opening.

5. Leverage urgency.

When you put a limited time frame on a special offer, your readers will be more likely to open and read the message immediately rather than waiting to read it later (which means running the risk of getting lost in the inbox.) Use phrases like ‘flash sale’, ‘today only’, or ‘just XX hours left’ to communicate a strong sense of urgency to readers.

6. Include Numbers.

Quantifying information makes it more logical and easy to digest, so whenever it makes sense, tie in numbers to your subject line so readers know exactly what to expect (and how simple you’re making a topic) within your email.

7. Use location information.

If you know where your subscribers live, segment them into lists based on geographic location so you can include targeted, location-based information in your subject lines, like “7 Best Chicago Restaurants You Need to Try”, for example.

8. Make them feel like VIPs.

It’s a good idea to make your subscribers feel special by giving them insider tips, deals, and previews that non-subscribers don’t get. This adds value for those on your list, and gives people one more reason to opt-in. Remind them of their VIP status by using phrases like ‘Invitation Only’ or ‘Special Preview: Just for Subscribers’.

9. Take it easy on the CAPS, man.

No one likes to see an email subject line that looks like it’s screaming at you in ALL CAPS. Use sentence-style or title-style capitalization, but NEVER leave on the caps lock.

10. Ask a question.

Posing a question in the subject line means that the reader can find the answer on the other side (and therefore should open your message.) Make it a question that is highly relevant to your readers by working in a pain point if possible.

We can almost guarantee that if you start using these email subject line tips and right away, you’ll notice an increase in open rates. Write smarter–and take note of which formats drive the highest open rates over time. As you continue to send emails over time, you’ll find what your unique audience really wants within a subject line.

Your turn: What are your go-to tips for writing killer email subject lines? We’d love for you to add to this list and/or let us know which tactic has been highly effective in your own experimentation and testing.

Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a copywriter who helps companies craft intelligent content with a charming human element.
Kaleigh Moore

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