How to write email subject lines that will increase your open rate


First impressions last, they say. According to data from Convince and Convert, 35 percent of all email recipients open an email on the basis of the subject line. So a compelling subject line is the key to a high email open rate.

On the surface, this seems like a relatively minor issue. But in the bigger picture, the subject line of an email is one of brand marketers’ most powerful tools in breaking the clutter of their recipients’ inbox. Here’s a quick cheat sheet to writing email subject lines that will help you boost your email open rates.

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Personalise, personalise, personalise

This has become the mantra for all things email marketing. Whenever possible, use tools like merge tags to personalise subject lines with the receivers’ names or make it relevant by including location.

Write a subject line and then delete half of it

Your catchy subject line is no good if it is so long that readers, especially millennials with decreased attention spans, get bored before they get to the email. Anything around five to six words or 50 characters is desktop-friendly. Cut it further if your audience is more mobile friendly. Sometimes subject lines with less than four words can also stand out and drive engagement.

Start with the single-word key message

The essence of your subject line comes down to one or two words, for example promotion, holiday, service, women, etc. With a staggering over 50 percent of emails are first seen on mobile. Since every platform has a different app for emails, you can’t know with certainty how many words of your subject line are actually visible on mobile. Don’t risk diluting the message; begin your subject line with the most important word.

No verbal tics (umms and aahs)

While conversational tones are known to work best in marketing emails, it is not actually a conversation. Avoid filler words in subject lines since you are already hard-pressed for cutting it short. “Hello” and “thank you” look great in emails but subject lines can do without them.

Ask a question

Pique your recipient’s curiosity or nudge them into action. Questions in subject lines are a great way to drive engagement among recipients.

Mention a date if needed

Once again, a sure shot way to nudge your readers into action is to give them a deadline. Especially if you are writing to inform them about a promotional offer, an event or tour dates if you are a travel agency or music band, dates can help drive higher engagement rates.

Make a list

Listicles are taking over the world! If you are sharing a resource with your readers in the form of a listicle, make sure you say it in the subject line. Everyone loves lists because it is a good way to consume information in the age of information overload. Mentioning an upcoming listicle in your subject line ensures that your readers know they have an easily consumable piece of content in their inbox. They will like you more for it.

Use your creative muscle

Like all things marketing, creativity is by far the most critical element of email subject lines. It could be a joke, a promotion, a question, or practically anything else. But as long as it entertains a reader, your job is done.

Proudly announce a video

According to Psychology Today, “Videos are better for seduction. When we watch a video, we become immersed in it and create an empathetic connection with the screen. If you want your visitors to fall in love with your content, it makes sense to deliver it via video. That’s because it’s much easier for us to become emotionally attached to something we watch in a video than something we read in an article.” It is no surprise then that video dominates the content strategy of most marketers today. If you too are using one in your email, it makes sense to mention it in the subject line so that recipients know they will not have to work hard at consuming what you are sharing.

Don’t just take our word for it

Each business, product, and service is different from the other. What worked for one brand doesn’t necessarily need to work for another. Whatever you do with your email strategy, don’t make the mistake of believing that one size fits everyone. Test your subject lines with different creative ideas and see what drives the best open and engagement. Experiment with it frequently.

If you are all set to write compelling subject lines, here are some resources and inspiration for you to strengthen your email marketing strategy


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