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Key Points

See example subject lines and get a recipe for creating successful email subject lines

How many emails do you receive every day? Now, how many do you open?

An enticing, creative subject line is the first ingredient you need to cook up a winning email newsletter. Even after you gain subscribers to your newsletter, there’s no guarantee that they will open your emails once they arrive in their overflowing inbox. Don’t fall into the trap of attempting to increase familiarity in your brand by using the same subject line every time, instead add the elements of incentive and urgency to your newsletter right there in the subject line to entice engagement. 

From coupons to daily deal sites, from newsletters to your mother wanting to know when you plan to visit — it’s a lot to sift through, never mind actually open. The average click-to-open rate is a slim 14.1%, so you’re not the only one.

What does it take for someone to actually open an email? Often, it’s the subject line. After all, it’s your very first impression of the email. From that first impression, you’ll do your best to judge the content inside.

So what makes a good email subject line? It’s a message that conveys urgency, curiosity, personalization, and so much more. But it’s up to you to make that distinction of which fits best in your business offer and appeals to your audience.

Let’s take a look at a few examples that get people to open your emails. *Note that some of these are from specific brands, but you can customize them to fit your business.

Best Email Subject Lines

We Saw You Checking Us Out 😏

Uh-oh, your subscription is expiring

The timer’s going off on your cart!

What Did You Think? Write a Review.

A Sneak Peek for VIPs Only.

👗 Free (Cool!) Clothes Alert 👖

🐶 Want a Custom Emoji of Tullamore & 6 Months FREE Walks? Book a Walk Today for Your Chance to Win!

Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)

Rock the color of the year

How to live at home 24/7

Take $20 off your order of $25 or more

🍺 Where to Drink Beer Right Now

1,750 points for you. Valentine’s flowers & more for them.

Free Oversized V-Neck

Here’s that discount you wanted

3 ways to improve your Pins

*Don’t Open This Email*

Important Weather Advisory 🌦

What Can You Afford?

As You Wish 🧞‍♂️

Not Cool, Guys

DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities

Everything you wanted to know about email copy but was too afraid to ask

Abra-cord-abra! Yeah, we said it.

🔥 Hot freebie alert! 15 free gifts, you pick 5.

From chaos to calm ✨🏡

Welcome Gift! Offer Inside 👀…

Colorful things for colorful homes

China Falls, Sleepy Unicorns, And The Deals Aren’t Bigger In Texas

Watch Out for This Amazon Phishing Scam

Your fingerprints are all over the place

New things are happening!

Don’t keep it to yourself.

Open this for $20 off!

How are you liking ____?

The Secret Sauce

As one of the most crucial parts of your email message, you should dedicate serious time to crafting that copy. But if you know the secret sauce for writing an awesome email subject line, you’ll find you need less and less time as you practice and learn what resonates best with your audience. Next time you draft an email message, use this recipe to formulate a great email subject line that will help you get your message in front of more eyes.

The Ingredients







The Recipe

Step 1 – Check for deliverability. There are two kinds of filters you need to get past: actual SPAM filters, and your readers. Readers have their BS detector up when checking their inboxes, and it’s as sharp as a bloodhound’s nose. Avoid spammy words like “free,” “act now,” and “limited time.” Don’t yell at the reader by using all caps, like “REMINDER,” which is another spammy word that should be avoided. Also, steer clear of excessive use of punctuation marks such as dollar signs and exclamation points at the end of sentences.

Step 2 – Make it actionable. To have an actionable subject line, ask yourself one thing: Does the reader know what he or she can do in the email? An email subject line is similar to writing a call-to-action; using verbs helps create the sense of urgency and excitement you want them to feel when reading your subject line. For example, a well-written email subject line reads, “Meet the Legendary Ming Tsai at Blue Ginger,” versus the less actionable “Ming Tsai at Blue Ginger.” With the first subject line, the reader knows they can do something in this email to meet Ming Tsai, as opposed to the second, where for all they know, Ming Tsai just went to Blue Ginger last night.

Step 3 – Personalize. The only way you can provide value to your email recipients is by knowing them. Your email subject line should reflect that you’re sending something that they want. For example, a realtor may have a segmentation just for renters looking for an apartment in a certain zip code. Reflecting this knowledge in your subject line, such as “View a Vacant 2 Bedroom Apartment in Arlington” will drive up the value of that email for the recipient.

Step 4 – Scrub for clarity. You know what your recipient will get if they open the email, but try to step out of your own shoes for a moment. Is it clear to an outsider? If your subject line is too broad, it won’t resonate. This often happens when email marketers try to be witty with subject lines. If you can find a way to be clever and straightforward, go for it, but never at the expense of clarity. 

Step 5 – Edit for brevity. You could write a haiku to your recipient, but it’s to your benefit to keep the subject line as short as possible. A good rule of thumb is 50 characters or fewer. People are quickly scanning their inboxes to decide what to read, and what to delete. The shorter your subject line, the less likely you are to get glossed over. Using emojis effectively can also help you be seen.

Step 6 – Ensure consistency. What the subject line promises should correspond with what is delivered in the email. Think about getting an email with a subject line that promises 75% off men’s clothing, only to find out that it only applies to men’s socks. The old bait and switch frustrates people and leads to lower open rates, lower click-through rates, and higher unsubscribe rates.

As with any recipe, testing is required for best results. Experiment with different verbs, reorder your words and try different offers to see which ones resonate the most with your recipients.

The Best Email Subject Lines are Simple and On-Brand

When writing subject lines for your emails, keep them engaging, simple, and on-brand. Don’t forget to appeal to the emotions and needs of your target buyers, and most importantly, have fun — include emojis, puns, or references to pop culture. Your emails will get opened, guaranteed.

By Leslie Radford

Advent Trinity is happy to help you with your email marketing campaigns!

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