10 tips to better email subject lines

Subject lines can seem like an insignificant part of writing an email, but in reality, they can make or break if your email is opened or if it is left sitting in crowded inboxes.

Having the right subject line is key to getting your message to clients and prospective clients.

Thirty-three percent of email recipients decide if they want to open an email on subject line alone, according to HubSpot. Subject lines also affect whether your email is reported as spam.

When writing subject lines, always consider your audience. What are your email receipents’ interests? What are their demographics? The more you know about your receipents, the more likely you are to write subject lines that grab their attention.

If a subject line has worked in the past, don’t be afraid to tweak it and re-use. What were your top 10 best open rates in the last two years? What was it about those subject lines that worked, and can you repurpose with some changes those subject lines for other emails?

If at all possible, test subject lines before sending. Many e-mail programs provide A/B test functions, which give you real-time data to know which subject lines have the best open rates before sending the email to your full contact list. Because trends and audiences change, you must keep testing, keep trying new things, keep thinking of new ways to improve your email open rates.

Here are our top 10 tips to keep in mind to construct the perfect email subject line:

1) Keep it concise

People don’t want to open an email if they can’t get the gist of the subject in 50 characters or less. Reading the entire subject line is important to the recipient, so they are more likely to ignore the email if the subject line is too long.

2) Tease what the email is going to be about

You don’t want to spell out everything in the email, but you also don’t want a subject that has nothing to do with the body of the email. A good subject line should tease what’s in the email without giving it away.

3) Personalize it

Sending someone an email with his or her name and company gives the reader a feeling of importance. Being called by name is respectful and doing so in the subject line can connect you to the recipient quickly. Naturally, it remains vital to updated contact lists. Few things are more off a turn off then having an email sent to you with someone else’s name or your name spelled wrong.

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4) Ask a question

Compelling the reader with a question is often a good way to grab someone’s attention. When writing a question for a subject line, make sure it is relevant to the body of the email. Asking a question sparks the reader’s curiosity and encourages them to open it for the answer.

5) Be humorous

When people scroll through their inbox, they generally are not amused or looking for a laugh, but if your subject line has something humorous, it can be attention grabbing. Using wordplay and puns can capture the personality of an individual or company. Just make sure it’s relevant and appropriate.

6) Use strong verbs

The use of strong action words can engage the recipient with just one word. Be sure and use active, present-tense verbs.

7) Use numbers and statistics

Doing this causes the recipient to be drawn to the email quicker than just words. Numbers and statistics are easier for the brain to process and can encourage the reader to open the email to discover more.


Using all caps will almost always get the email marked as spam. It’s annoying and readers do not like to be yelled at. As much as you think it will grab their attention, it won’t, or at least not in the way you want.

9) Avoid emojis or extra punctuation!!!

The uses of special characters like these can be a turn off to the reader. It’s distracting and unprofessional. As with many rules, there are exceptions: If you have a series of emails on the same subject, try an emoji or two to change things up. Try A/B testing emojis against the same subject line without emojis. Most audiences will not like the emojis, but emojis sometimes work if used sparingly.

10) Use a video

These days’ people are attracted to videos, gifs, and pictures. Words alone are not enough to capture peoples attention, so letting them know in the subject line that there is an interesting video in the email can encourage the reader to open it.

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