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6 Tips for E-Mail Subject Lines that Everyone Want to Click

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles)/

The average e-mail open rate is slightly above 20 percent. Of course, it varies from industry to industry – with some going as low as 15 percent.

You may be tempted to think that, if your numbers are within these margins, your e-mail campaigns are doing well. And that’s true.

But why not strive for “great” instead of “well”?

Think about it: an open rate of 20 percent means that 80 out of 100 people that you e-mail will ignore you. They will delete the e-mail you worked so hard on without giving it a second look.

You have to admit: that hurts a bit. As a copywriter and marketer, I know it hurts me every time I get a less-than-satisfactory open rate for my agency’s campaigns or for those of our clients.

So, naturally, together with my team, I always try to come up with new ways to improve this open rate. And if there is something we can all agree on is that the open rate depends heavily on your subject line. Here’s how to improve it and get your e-mails read.

6 tips for e-mails subject lines that get clicked on

Each day, there are 269 billion e-mails sent to 3.7 billion users. That’s an average of 72 e-mails per user. And we all know that top execs and business people get way more than that.

Logically, no one can be expected to read that many e-mails. So, users have to make a drastic selection of the e-mails they are actually going to read (if they want to get anything else done in that day).

As writers, our job is to ensure that the e-mails we create make this cut. You can think about subject line as headlines. The better they are, the better your chances of having your e-mail or blog post read.

These are a few of the strategies that my team of writers uses to create subject lines that get opened by way more than 20 percent of their recipients:

1. Create a sense of urgency

Remember the infomercials a few years back that used to shout “Buy now!” at us?

Don’t do that!

It’s aggressive and it’s obsolete. There’s a reason why you don’t see as many infomercials anymore.

Instead, just borrow the idea from this. “$20 coupon for your favorite books – available for 24 hours only” or “Grab our 15 percent discount for X services – valid until the end of the month” are subject lines that convey a sense of urgency without pressuring the recipient.

2. Personalize

Personalization is the key of modern marketing. And I’m not just talking about adding the recipient’s first name after “Dear” in your opening line.

You can also do this in your subject line: “Hey, Jane, I think you’re going to love our new shoe collection.” Speaking directly to your recipients is immensely better than using the generic “you.” You are bound to at least catch their eye and make sure your e-mail isn’t deleted the second it lands their inbox.

To get users to open them, couple this tip with the one below.

3. Make it relevant

I’m not talking about general relevance. Make your e-mails relevant to specific users. For instance, if the above-mentioned Jane already purchased shoes from your online shop, the subject line given as an example is a great idea.

If she only purchased men’s clothing or dresses, your shoe collection may not be in tune with her taste. Of course, you can always try. But be sure to also send her newsletters that match her preferences instead of your need to sell your new collection.

4. Share a story

People love stories. If they are success stories, it’ even better!

“How I doubled my organic traffic in just two months” or “How we got featured in Times magazine” are subject lines that will definitely spark curiosity.

Plus, they will also establish you as thought leaders in your field. Sharing stories about your success makes people look up to you and, obviously, more likely to buy something from you. This is especially useful for solopreneurs or B2B companies.

5. Place emphasis on benefits

Again, with so many e-mails in our inboxes daily, we need a damn good reason to open them. And there’s no better reason than telling people they will get something for their effort from the get-go.

“Reduce your PPC costs with our tips,” “The one tool that will cut your social media monitoring time in half” – these are e-mails that most marketers would click on. I would!

6. Use discounts, giveaways or coupons

Nothing works better that giving people something for free (or heavily discounted). If there is something that is bound to make your e-mail open rate soar, this is it.

However, you can’t be sharing promotions and special offers on your every e-mail. They will become obsolete and, when people get accustomed to them, they won’t feel the need to open your e-mail right now. Why not wait until tomorrow or next week when you’ll surely have a new promotion – maybe even a better one?

I usually recommend to my clients to limit the discount-related e-mails to one per month. Of course, this may vary from industry-to-industry and it may take some testing to realize what works best for you.

A 40 percent e-mail open rate is not a myth

It happens. We’ve seen it happen and we’ve made it happen so many times. And, yes, the subject line is the most important ingredient in the secret sauce of boosting your e-mail open rate.

But it’s not the only thing.

On top of the strategies above, I suggest you do an e-mail cleanup every few months. You want to stay relevant and communicate with the right people, not spam those who shouldn’t be on your list anymore.

I know it may be tempting to say that “it doesn’t hurt” to keep people who have never opened an e-mail from you on your list. But it does hurt. It hurts your reports and it prevents you from creating a great e-mail marketing strategy.

Let them go. It’s better to have 200 contacts that may turn into clients than 1,000 contacts that won’t even open your e-mails.

About the author


Adriana Tica

Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the Owner and Founder of Idunn. In October 2019, she also launched Copywritech, a digital marketing agency that provides copywriting, SEO content writing, and strategy services to companies in the tech industry.


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