seo audit

How to write email subject lines that people will actually open 

9 MINS
Web.com Team

Did you know that there are roughly 347.3 billion emails exchanged all over the world? With inboxes flooded with a constant stream of emails, standing out to grab your audience’s attention is challenging. 

Your email subject line is your ticket to getting noticed — whether you’re promoting your products, sharing valuable content, or simply trying to connect. It’s the first impression people get from your emails. In fact, 33% of email recipients decide to open emails based on subject lines. 

Unfortunately, many marketers miss the mark with their email subject lines, losing opportunities to engage and connect with their audience. That’s why in this article, we’ll explore the importance of email subject lines, share tips for crafting compelling ones, and highlight common mistakes to avoid. 

What is an email subject line and why is it important? 

An email subject line is a brief text that introduces the email to the recipient. It’s the first thing they see in their inbox, thus its purpose is to pique the recipient’s interest and encourage them to open and read your email. 

The following types of email subject lines serve distinct purposes and are tailored to the specific goals and content of the emails they accompany. 

  • Personal email subject lines. These are used for friendly, one-on-one communication, like saying hello or checking in with someone. 
  • Welcome email subject lines. They’re used to greet and introduce new subscribers or customers to them feel valued and excited. 
  • Introduction email subject lines. These introduce someone or something new, making a good first impression and connection. 
  • Retargeting email subject lines. These try to bring back people who visited a website but didn’t take action, encouraging them to come back and complete a task. 
  • Sales email subject lines. Used to sell products or services by grabbing the recipient’s attention and convincing them to buy. 
  • Email marketing subject lines. Used in marketing emails to make people open and engage with the content inside, like reading articles or using special offers. 
  • Cold email subject lines. Used in initial contact emails to engage recipients with no prior relationship. They must be attention-grabbing and purposeful to encourage the recipient to open the email and establish a connection. 

With the increasing use of mobile devices, people usually read their emails on their phones. Since screens have limited space, long email subject lines get cut off. Which is why brevity and clarity are crucial. 

Plus, email recipients quickly scan their inboxes, so if your subject line doesn’t stand out and quickly convey the value of your email in a few words, they’re not getting read. 

7 tips for crafting catchy email subject lines + examples 

Writing good email subject lines can get tricky when you don’t know how to catch your readers’ attention. They can significantly impact the open rates and success of your email marketing campaigns. That’s why we’re dedicating this section to teach you 7 tips to create the best email subject lines. 

1. Keep it short and sweet 

Short subject lines increase the chances of your message being seen, whether on a computer or a mobile device. When your subject line is concise and to the point, it grabs attention and is easy to read quickly. 

Here’s a good email subject line example: “Flash Sale Today!”  

It immediately tells you there’s a special sale happening right now. It’s easy to read, and when people check their mail on their phones, they’ll see the entire subject line. 

In contrast, longer subject lines, such as “Don’t Miss Our Exclusive Flash Sale Happening Today Only,” may get cut off on smaller screens and it is less likely for recipients to understand your message at a glance. 

2. Use clear and concise language 

Using clear and concise language means being straightforward and avoiding fancy or complicated words. When your audience is in a hurry, chances are they won’t have the time to sit back and thoroughly read your subject line. 

A subject line like “New Arrival Alert: [Product Name] is Here!” tells your audience precisely what’s inside your email. When your subject line is straightforward, people can quickly understand the email’s content, which increases the chances of them engaging with it. 

On the other hand, a subject line like “Revolutionary Innovations for a Brighter Future” sounds impressive but can be unclear and might not convey your message effectively. 

3. Hook the reader immediately 

With all the distractions in the world competing for your audience’s attention, you need a catchy subject line that immediately hooks them. 

An intriguing and captivating subject line, like “This one trick will change your [industry],” instantly piques the reader’s curiosity and encourages them to open the email. 

On the other hand, a subject line like “Our Latest Newsletter” is rather bland and doesn’t offer any immediate value or excitement, making it less likely to grab the recipient’s attention. 

Here are some other email subject line examples that hook email recipients: 

  • Unlock the Secrets to Success! 
  • Exclusive Offer: 24 Hours Only! 
  • Something Big is Coming — Get Ready to Be Amazed! 
  • Last Chance to Save 50% 

4. Personalize when possible 

People don’t want to be treated as a nameless customer. They want to be valued and cared for. That’s where personalized email subject lines can work wonders for your email engagement. 

When you use the recipient’s name or reference their past interactions with your brand, like “John, Your Exclusive Offer Awaits,” it creates a sense of individual connection and relevance, making them feel like they’re talking to an actual person and not just a machine. 

In contrast, a generic subject line like “Check Out Our Latest Offers” might not feel as tailored to the reader, and they may not be as inclined to open the email. 

5. Ask a question 

Using questions in your subject lines can be a clever way to spark curiosity in your audience. For instance, a line like “What if you could [achieve something] in just [amount of time]?” not only conveys the potential benefit but also encourages readers to open the email to learn more, making them active participants in the message rather than passive recipients. By asking a question, you’re also showing that you understand their needs and pain points, and that you have a solution to offer. 

In contrast, a subject line like “Productivity Tips” is informative but lacks that engaging and thought-provoking element. 

6. Create a sense of urgency or scarcity 

Take a look at these subject line examples. Do you see anything in common? 

  • Last Chance to Save 50%! 
  • Limited Stock – Grab Yours Now! 
  • Final Hours to Get 30% Off 
  • Hurry, Offer Ends at Midnight! 
  • Don’t Miss Out on Exclusive Deals Today 
  • Only a Few Spots Left – Register Now! 
  • Flash Sale: 3 Hours Left! 

That’s right. They’re all creating a sense of urgency or scarcity. 

Adding urgency in your subject lines drives your email recipients to action. Phrases like the ones above convey a time-sensitive opportunity that urges readers to act promptly. 

People hate missing out, especially on deals that will let them spend their money on more. This urgency can trigger a fear of missing out, making your subject line more compelling for recipients to open and take advantage of the offer before it’s gone. 

7. A/B test your subject lines 

Of course, not everything will immediately go right the first time. Experiment a little and check which catchy subject lines work best with your audience. 

You can try sending out variations like: 

  • Huge Discounts Await! 
  • Big Savings Just a Click Away 

Essentially, they mean the same, but you want to know which one fits better to your recipients, tracking which one generates more opens and engagement. 

This data-driven approach helps you refine your email marketing strategy by identifying the subject lines that resonate most effectively with your specific audience, ensuring that your future email campaigns are even more successful. So, remember, testing different subject lines is an essential tool for improving your email marketing results and reaching your audience more effectively. 

3 common mistakes to avoid when writing a subject line 

Now you know how to create the best email subject lines, let’s talk about things you need to avoid. 

Overusing all caps and exclamation points 

WRITING ENTIRELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS OR ADDING TOO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS CAN COME ACROSS AS AGGRESSIVE AND SPAMMY!!! It’s best to use these elements sparingly and strategically, as overuse can deter recipients from opening your emails. 

Read through the different samples below and compare how they appear to you as a reader: 

  • Capitalized Email 

Subject: REQUEST FOR THE QUARTERLY SALES REPORT 

DEAR [RECIPIENT’S NAME], 

I HOPE THIS MESSAGE FINDS YOU WELL. I WANTED TO KINDLY REQUEST THE LATEST VERSION OF THE QUARTERLY SALES REPORT. IT’S ESSENTIAL FOR OUR UPCOMING MEETING WITH THE CLIENT, SCHEDULED FOR [DATE]. 

IF POSSIBLE, COULD YOU PLEASE PROVIDE IT BY [YOUR PREFERRED TIMELINE]? YOUR PROMPT ASSISTANCE IS GREATLY APPRECIATED. 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION TO THIS MATTER. 

BEST REGARDS, 

[YOUR NAME] 

  • Professional Email 

Subject: Request for the Quarterly Sales Report 

Dear [Recipient’s Name], 

I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to kindly request the latest version of the quarterly sales report. It’s essential for our upcoming meeting with the client, scheduled for [date]. 

If possible, could you please provide it by [your preferred timeline]? Your prompt assistance is greatly appreciated. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Best regards, 

[Your Name] 

They essentially have the same message, and yet the capitalized email looked more aggressive compared to the calm and professional tone of the lowercase email. It just goes to show how different the tone can be online. To maintain a professional and trustworthy appearance, opt for a more balanced and measured approach in your subject lines. 

Clickbait subject lines that disappoint recipients 

Promising something in your subject line that your email doesn’t deliver should be avoided. For starters, go over these examples: 

  • You Won’t Believe What We Found! 
  • Secret Revealed: The Ultimate Solution 
  • Get Rich Quick – Guaranteed! 
  • You’ve Won a Free iPhone! Claim Now! 
  • Shocking News About Your Account 
  • Don’t Open This Email – Seriously, Don’t! 

You might be tempted to use a catchy email subject line like these ones, but when you look closer, they don’t offer a lot of information. They barely look trustworthy, and when emails look too unreliable or suspicious, can trigger their spam filters and your emails won’t even reach your intended audience. 

These kinds of subject lines are often referred to as “clickbait.” While a sensational subject line may generate initial clicks, it can disappoint recipients when the content inside doesn’t live up to the hype. 

Building trust with your audience is far more valuable than just getting a quick click. To maintain a positive and trustworthy relationship with your readers, ensure that your subject line accurately reflects the content and value of your email. 

Being too vague or generic 

Crafting vague or generic subject lines, such as “Important Information,” is a common mistake. 

Sure, it’s truthful to your content, but the subject lines lack the necessary detail to entice recipients to open your email. To engage your audience effectively, it’s essential to be specific and communicate the value of what’s inside your email. 

A subject line should provide a clear and compelling glimpse of the content, making the recipient eager to explore further. 

Improve open rates with effective email subject lines 

Your email subject is the first thing recipients see, capturing their attention and conveying the email’s purpose. It increases open rates, engagement, and the effectiveness of email communication and marketing. 

Now that you have the knowledge and tips to create compelling subject lines, it’s time to put them into practice. Pair it with Web.com’s business email address and you will have a powerful combination for boosting your email open rates and driving more success for your business. 

  • Web.com Team

    Our goal is to be your go-to partner in today’s always-on digital world.

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