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How to Write Email Subject Lines People Can’t Wait To Open


Email marketing is one of the oldest online marketing strategies.

Surprisingly, with all those spam emails that flood our mailboxes every day, this remains one of the best channels for communication, advertising, and marketing.

It works for small businesses and it works for big companies as well.

It is a reliable channel for B2B marketing but it is also perfect for B2C marketing.

Maybe you will ask yourself, “why?”; “With this entire social media buzz, how is it that email is still so popular?”

Let’s try to answer these questions by looking at some very interesting statistics.

The importance of email marketing in 2018

Most of medium-sized US retailers admit that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer acquisition and retention.

According to Emarketer, email marketing is responsible for about 80% of the customers acquired through marketing tactics.

emarketer email statistics

It’s a huge number considering that social media is on the fourth place on the top of acquisition/retention of customers with 51% respectively 44% success rate.

But wait, there’s more!

According to imaginepub.com,

Email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, an impressive 3,800 percent ROI for B2B marketing.

These stats are however expected since

86 percent of professionals reportedly favor email communication for business purposes.

Moreover, the average open rate of a marketing email is more than three times higher than Facebook’s organic reach.

Twitter is even less profitable when it comes to marketing.

Therefore, it’s quite obvious why businesses still use the email as one of their main marketing channels.

Email marketing boasts higher conversion rates than any other marketing channel. […] 66 percent of online consumers made a purchase as the result of email marketing Wordstream reports.

Finally, another important fact we should take into consideration is the penetration of smartphones and tablets.

People do not leave their homes without their mobile devices.

Moreover, they check for news updates from business partners, friends and media channels several times a day, wherever they are.

They can do it now easier due to the fact that they actually carry with them mini-computers, sometimes more powerful than the computers they leave at home.

It is also easier for them to read their personal and business emails since they have the possibility to read them as they come. In fact “two-thirds of emails are read on either smartphones or tablets”.

Time is of the essence

Before starting a new email campaign, considering that you want it to be successful (I know you do…), you need to learn how to better organize your time.

First, let’s pose a serious question: „What is the most important thing in marketing?

The answer is, of course, THE CONTENT.

Everything depends on the message you are able to pass on to your audience and how good and valuable it is. You need to think about a good subject line to grow your open rate.

You also need to consider writing better texts to generate conversions.

In conclusion, most of the time allocated to your campaign is being spent on brainstorming for copy texts, great visuals, and inspirational calls to action and so on.

Therefore, if you want to organize your time better, you may also try an automation service for your email newsletters delivery.

A few months ago I came across SendPulse, an online automation tool that allows you to send emails in a fast, intuitive and affordable way.

SendPulse email marketing

With more than 250.000 clients, SendPulse is a reliable service which provides several opportunities for email marketers such as:

  • A simple yet intuitive interface
  • Ability to create campaigns and monitor your progress
  • Access to numerous templates and designs which allows you to automate the creation process and be ready to deliver your emails in just a few minutes
  • Email newsletter templates that are optimized for readability independent of the devices your audience use
  • Extensive reporting capabilities and round the clock online support

Apart from this, I would also recommend you their Automation 360 service. With this feature, you can automate events and messages previously set up such as auto responders based on specific actions performed by your clients.

For instance, you can create auto responders for newsletter signups but you can integrate auto responders as well to remind people that they left products in their carts.

What’s great about this service is that it allows you to also keep track in real time of your conversions. At the same time, it allows you to set data filters bases upon which you can send your messages depending on many variables and different events.

Now, let’s get back to our main topic and discuss the email subject line.

Why does it matter and how can you improve your conversion rates by writing a subject line people would want to open?

The importance of a good subject line

Knowing that emails are effective is one thing and an entirely new thing to write them for marketing purposes. Yes, they’re effective but everything depends on your ability to trigger the customer’s curiosity.

This means that you need to convince your audience to click on your email and open it.

What do they see first except that the email is coming from you? Well, they see your subject line. At this point, you have a second, two, maybe three to convince whoever receives that email, to open it.

47% of email recipients reportedly base their decision on whether the open the email or not, on the subject line.

Therefore, you can now understand why subject lines are important and how they can help you achieve better numbers in your marketing campaign.

1. Start with the welcome email message

Your first contact with a member of your audience is maybe the most important step in your present and future email marketing campaigns.

Welcome emails attract 320% more revenue than any other promotional emails.

This represents an 86% lift in unique open rate, more than 196% lift in unique click rate and a 336% lift in transaction rate.

In conclusion, your first step in your email marketing campaign should always be this: To start the relationship with the customer on the right foot.

First impressions always count and it is your first duty to make a good first impression.

2. Do not use the word newsletter in your subject line

Here’s an interesting fact. According to this great Infographic posted by Business2Community, open rates of email newsletter decrease by 18.7% when the word “newsletter” is being used in the subject line.

This means that when you think about the perfect subject line, always keep in mind not to mention here that you are sending a newsletter. People want to hear about you, want to read about your offers, your updates and so on. They do not like however dull and rigid corporate messages.

Moreover, they don’t particularly fancy newsletters. Yes, I know that this is exactly what you are sending to them but at the same time, you can make your emails seem a little bit more than a marketing strategy. They must be appealing.

The reader should want to open it to find more.

3. Change the subject line for a specific group of people

Neil Patel writes on his blog about one of the most interesting examples of how a subject line can change your conversion rates. The case study he mentions comes from Wok to Walk, an international health food company.

3 wok to walk
According to Patel, the company sent a newsletter with a call to action as a subject line. They invited their customers to call them, order meals and make inquiries.

However, the open rate of these emails was lower than expected, at just 18.1%.

They did not get discouraged however and decided to resend the initial newsletter. This time, they chose to make a slight modification in the subject line and select the group of people to send their emails to.

Instead of sending again the newsletter to the entire list, they eliminated the addresses that opened their newsletter and set up a new list of people who ignored them the first time.

Then, they added a phone number in the subject line, making it easier for people to call, just as the call to action invited them in the first place. Now, they were able to do it without even opening the emails.

The total engagement rate grew by 7.7% following the second email.

4. Try to change the sender’s name

Remember how frustrating it is not to be able to talk to a real person when you are phone calling a company? You get to talk to a robot that may or may not understand what you want. Then, only after it manages to process your input, it transfers you to a real person.

The same thing applies to emails. People will respond better to messages that are being sent by real people they can actually relate to. Therefore, if you want to improve your email open rate and your conversion, instead of sending emails from the company, use your own marketing team to send them from actual email accounts.

From names on a mobile phone displays very large, so in most cases it’s the key indication of whether or not you should pay attention. If the from name doesn’t sound like it’s from someone you want to hear from, it doesn’t matter what the subject line is” explains Joanna Wiebe, copywriter and founder of Copy Hackers.

Take for example Statista. It is not a daily rule but, from time to time, they send newsletter signed by members of their editorial team.

It’s an approach to marketing that may also help you achieve better results and communicate better with your audience.

5. Use a subject line that generates curiosity

People are curious creatures. If you tell somebody half a story, they will want to hear it all eventually. The same applies to blog titles and email subject lines.

You can trigger your audience curiosity, with a simple question mark.

Let’s take a look at two examples of articles that may be the leads on a newsletter and analyzes which one of them is more likely to be open. They both deal with the same topic and pose a similar question. However, only one of them actually answers it.

The first example comes from Utrecht University and looks something like that:

email marketing strategy
The second example is a screenshot that depicts an article posted on the BBC News website.

bbc email marketing
Can these titles be both used as subject lines on an email newsletter? Well, of course, they do. However, one of them will actually have a greater open rate.

Do you know which one of them? Do you know why?

It’s obvious that the email that poses a question is more likely to be opened. As I have already said, people are curious. It’s in their nature.

A subject line similar to the second example, already answers a question. Therefore, the email will most likely end up unopened, archived or deleted.

6. Create a sense of urgency

Here’s another great example that Neil Patel mentions on his blog. According to him, emails that create a sense of urgency in their subject lines generate a 22% higher open rate. The example, in this case, comes from Williams Sonoma. Take a quick look at the following newsletter:

email marketing tips

The subject line clearly creates urgency here: “Final Hours to Save on Soaps, Lotions…” is a great subject line that invites to the audience to click to open the emails. Also, it informs them that their time is limited and as a consequence, they should hurry.


People who actually want/like their products will rather open the emails as soon as they receive it. The reason they’ll do it? Well, setting it aside for later may result in losing the opportunity presented there.

7. Come up with a great punch line/call to action

People need a reason to open your newsletter. I know, the above example with a question was great as a source of inspiration. However, for many of your future campaigns, there may be instances when questions would not be suited.

What else can you do?

Well, you need to come up with a great call to action. You need a punchline able to convince your audience to open the email. You need to convince them that you have what they need; you have something to offer; something that will change their lives for the better.

Here’s yet another great example from Coursera, an online learning resource which features courses from several prestigious universities from all around the world:

coursera email marketing
Their subject line reads as follows: “Grow your career in 2018!”

It is a great message because it is short. It is also great because it calls for an immediate action and relates to everyone who ever signed up for newsletters from an online university.

Moreover, the subject line focuses on personal gain, personal development two of the key factors that may convince somebody to actually spend a few minutes in reading a newsletter.

8. Do everything by the book

Email marketing is not an easy task but as the general statistics showed us, so far it is one of the best strategies for increasing conversions and to attracting more clients.

Apart from everything we’ve discussed in the previous paragraphs, I will conclude this article with a recommendation.

You can learn even more about writing your subject lines and achieve better results by carefully studying this article published by digitalmarketer.com. According to them, they managed to triple their email open rates and double the click-through rates in just 12 months by adjusting their subject line writing strategy.

It’s an interesting reading and of course, you will have a lot to learn from Richard Linder, President of Digital Marketing and the author of the mentioned article.


We’ve learned that sending email newsletters is still one of the best methods of conducting a successful marketing campaign.

We’ve also learned that emails convert better than other marketing strategies.

Everything depends, however, on your ability to catch the viewer’s attention and trigger an immediate action. You need to convince the audience to open your emails and for this to happen, you need better subject lines.

Your rate of success will be based on them

How important do you think subject lines are and how much do you think your campaign’s success depends on them?

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Robert Katai

Content Marketing Strategist

"Content isn’t king. Usefulness is. Robert does this in the online marketing and social media space with ease."

Ram Castillo