How To Write Killer Email Subject Lines To Get High Open Rates

Avantika Bhardwaj Avantika Bhardwaj
Aug 31, 2020 9 min read
How To Write Killer Email Subject Lines To Get High Open Rates

The big question is what is the benefit of keeping thousands of recipients on your email campaign list if only a handful actually opens your emails! There always has been a situation that you sent an important mail but the open rates are highly poor. Here’s the thing that no matter, whatever your content is, people do judge you by the subject lines. The facts say, 47% of marketers say they test different email subject lines to optimize their open rates. What is important is ‘how to write killer email subject lines so that you get a high open-rate’.

How many unread emails do you have in your inbox? 800? Or maybe, if you’re like me and are on countless mailing lists, 5644? And that’s after a little Gmail spring cleaning! The thing is we get hundreds of emails every day and a lot of them are never opened. People are inundated with boatloads of information – more than ever before in history! The bitter truth lies within is that your subject line is your first and maybe last impression on that person. Here are some go-to tips to write killer email subject lines so that you can boost your open rates.

“Please put us out of our misery.”
That award-winning email subject line, written for a UK financial management company called Money Dashboard

What Determines Email Open Rates?

What determines email open rates?
What determines email open rates?

Your email open rate is the number you get when you subtract bounced emails from emails sent and divide the opened emails by that number. It’s one of the convenient and best ways to track how your email campaign is delivering the results, which you set out to achieve.

If you’re launching an email campaign, you’ll need to know this. All email marketing providers track email open rates and give you statistics on them, as well as click, bounce, and complaint rates.

Your Open Rates Can Suck, Because:

  • Is the email viewable?
  • Are you being a pest?
  • When did you send it?
  • Quality of your email list.
How to write killer email subject lines?

So, before we go to the tricks and tips, let’s go over some fundamentals of what makes an email subject line rockin’-sockin’. Whatever your goals are about the mails, these essential elements are one of those that your subject lines should have in them:

  • Urgency
  • Curiosity
  • Value
  • Emotion
  • Offers
  • Personalization
  • Relevance and Timeliness
  • Name Recognition
  • Cool Stories
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How To Write Killer Email Subject Lines To Get High Open Rates?


1. Keep It Short and Simple

The majority of the population are now reading their emails on their smartphones and the legends are now reading them from their notifications. Subject lines will automatically get cut-off if they are too long. Since 77% of email opens are taking place on mobile devices, we suggest you use subject lines with fewer than 50 characters, so that people scanning your emails read the entire subject line.

.. In spite of writing “Your order is being processed” looks better than “Order #9435897758 is being processed."

2. Develop a Unique Selling Proposition

Here’s where the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) comes. The important aspects covered under this are:

  • What unique are you doing other than marketers can do?
  • What makes your sales unique?
  • How can you give your services to inspire people to want to click, open or, buy?

If your mail offers a user-friendly platform and solves a problem for its customers. That is its USP. Do that with your emails and you will be successful, too.

3. Use A Familiar Sender Name

The name recognition applies to the familiar, not famous. If the ‘from’ name doesn’t sound like it’s from someone you would listen to, then bam; it doesn’t matter what the subject line is. The fact that everyone on this planet is so busy that they simply won’t bother if you don’t seem like someone who would make for an easy and friendly conversation.

4. Segment Your Lists

When the email is about to blast in big numbers, then it’s not humanly possible that relevant reaches to relevant. Some information could cause confusion and frustration to the users. Why is this restaurant sending me out one of the best steakhouses when I’m vegan? Why is this company sending me product reviews when I just signed up for its mails?  Sometimes flooding the user account with a bunch of emails can cause you subscription.

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You have to personalize the experience using information from the actions your customers have already taken -- from which forms they've filled out, to which industries they're in, to what their personal preferences are. In email marketing, you can personalize your recipients' experience using a little thing called list segmentation.

5. Don’t Make False Promises And Accusations

Your subject line is making a promise to your reader but the content is not quite what they expected of. Make it a point that you do your best on that commitment- and do not try to get your email opened by making false promises. Because, this is going to irk your audiences, and they’ll rephrase as no to trust you and never to open your mails; which will result in a lower open rate and a higher unsubscribe rate.

Speaking of making false promises, to avoid this situation use lines like “Your guide awaits!” or, “your new ebook inside”. This works better than a simple “regards” mail.

6. Time It Right

Sending a relevant mail at the right time with the right subject line is golden. This small step can make a huge difference in open and clickthrough rates. A prime example: a food publication sends at 7:30 P.M. on a Friday evening that said, "Where to Drink Beer Right Now" -- just in time for happy hour. Nailed it. Or, Amazon giving you Independence Day sale and Zomato offering you weekend plans for a birthday party with no delivery charges. These small-small steps can increase the chances of your email getting opened -- and included a relevant call-to-action about getting glasses to upgrade, too.

7. Create A Sense of Importance Or Urgency

‘Act Now!’ or“Your Prescription is expiring”; I mean this worked for me and else I can’t say more on this. We guarantee that people do open such types of mails. Since we on someone’s behalf can’t encourage such content language, but we do acknowledge the urgency and scarcity in an email subject line which can help compel readers to click (or act); if phrased creatively, strategically and appropriately.

Since you don't want to be known as "the brand that cried wolf," use these subject lines sparingly, and you should try to limit them to when the occasion genuinely calls for immediate action.

8. Pose a Compelling Question

Asking a compelling question in your subject line can be magical—especially if you’re asking a question you know is relevant to your recipients' buyer persona. This is one perfect way to pique the audiences’ curiosity. A prime expel: “Are you making these common GRE mistakes?” or “Do you know what your LinkedIn Profile is doing wrong?" These tricks can get you to boost your high open rates.

9. Make People Feel Special

The psychology of exclusivity is a powerful thing. When people feel like they're on the inside, it gives them a sense of belonging that could build loyalty and compel them to convert better on your emails. I guess the cosmology and astrology subscription works “the best” in writing killer subject lines. Believe me each and every mail from them tends to draw its audiences’ attention, always. Personalization tokens like “You”, “Your” still sounds like you're addressing them directly.

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The appropriate phrasing can make your recipients feel special, and the after-effects of your marketing are golden. A few ideas from here and there could be:

  • 'For our beloved customers'
  • 'An exclusive offer only for you'
  • 'My gift to you'
  • 'You’re invited'
  • 'Private Invite'

Subject lines are similar to calls-to-action, so always start with action-oriented verbs. The fact beneath the subject lines is ‘subjects that begin with action verbs tend to be a lot more enticing, and your emails could be drastically more clickable by adding a vibrant verb at the beginning.

10. DON’T USE ALL CAPS or Overuse Exclamation Marks!!!

A subject line that says, “OPEN NOW AND RECEIVE A FREE TRIAL” or, "50% off coupon, apply today only!!!!!!!!" Isn't going to get your email opened. In fact, it'll probably get your email ignored. Why? People don’t like to be yelled at, and using excessive marks and caps can really rub people the wrong way. According to a proven study, 85% of respondents prefer opening and reading an all-lowercase subject line to one in all caps.

Not only, they act as tactics disruptive, but they look spammy. Instead of using fonts and marks like this, try personalizing your emails, establishing relevancy, and using catchy and delightful language.

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Examples of Catchy Email Subject Lines

  • "Claim your UNLIMITED free photo book + pages and more" - Shutterfly
  • "Trip or treat! Up to $300 off ends tomorrow" - EF Tours
  • "Generous PTO and summer Fridays" - Mediabistro
  • Subject: "It's scary outside." Preview text: "Here's $5 to stay in" - Drizly
  • "Smouldering red lipstick" - Chanel
  • "Corelle. (Enough said.)" - Wayfair
  • "Do you know how important this is?" - Allstate
  • "Electrify your next night out. Trending party dresses are now on sale." - Wish
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Implementing the above tips will always lead your emails to achieve high open rates, and not only this but you will also earn a more loyal subscriber base, who will anticipate seeing your next winning subject line in their inbox. The only thing you have to be consistent with: Keep testing your email subject lines. So, they will eventually increase, as long as you follow the rules.

Although, writing an effective email may be mind-wrecking, but nailing this aspect of your email campaign is trust. What you have to do is ‘meld your creativity with your sales pitch and chances are you’ll be able to create an email marketing that delivers shocking (good) results.'

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