The Secret Ingredients for Successful Email Subject Lines

Let’s be honest here. If no one opens your email, you’ve wasted your time writing it.

As well as ALL of the brilliant content within it.

Have you got time for that?

Email marketing is still the #1 marketing strategy, bringing in an impressive £36 for every £1 spent. But it simply can’t work if no one is reading what you’re pumping out there.

The Importance Of Subject Lines

Good subject lines are vital to the success of your email marketing. 

As a headline, they bear the heavy weight of everything that follows:

The role of the subject line is to capture readers’ interest immediately. Emails without great subject lines get sent straight to trash.

What a waste!

Want to increase your open and click-through rates? Throughout this blog, we’ll explore six techniques you can adopt to evolve your subject lines from good to great.

1: Personalisation

Successful email marketing combines both nurture and sales strategies. Building a positive, trusting relationship with your readers is paramount. 

Including the recipient’s name in your subject line or another piece of information about them, means your email stands out in a crowded inbox and makes them feel valued. It’s the personal touch.

Use your email marketing provider’s custom fields and merge tags to do this. If possible, specify a fallback in case there is no name stored, so that the subject line still reads well. 

Consider this very boring example for simplicity’s sake:

Example with name included: Hello Julie!

Example if no name is stored with a record: Hello there!

And remember, always test before you send!

2: Exact numbers

Being precise with your numbers and values makes you sound more credible because people associate it with hard facts

Specificity is extremely persuasive and builds more curiosity than rounded figures. 

Take a look. Which of these headlines work best?

Learn how to increase your clickthroughs by 20%
Learn how to increase your clickthroughs by 22.6%
Learn how to up your clickthrough rate

It’s more than likely that you’re eyeballing the second one.


It’s almost as if our brain is hardwired to relate intricate numbers to cold data.

3: Humour

If your subject line gets your reader giggling, they’ll open your email.

Humour is vital to building positive relationships. It unites us and makes us feel comfortable with each other. 

Similarly to personalising your subject lines, integrating humour mimics an authentic, conversational tone and develops trust with your reader.

Watch that your subject lines stay in keeping with your business’ voice, though. Draft your humorous subject line and test it with a few people before sending it to your list and see what feedback you get. 

4: Being Topical

What’s going on in the world can inspire all forms of content writing, including subject lines.

If the content in your email references or relates to something widely known, think about how you might infuse your subject line with it to grab attention

Much like a reporter on the scene, the quicker you react to the news breaking, the more impactful it is. 

An example of a topical subject line in early January might be…

“Something the Queen didn’t tell you in her New Year’s speech…”

Or, you can even relate directly to what you know about your target audience. Do you coach predominantly female execs? Footballers? Do you speak at finance seminars? How can you connect with your readers to show them you understand them?

5: Emojis and Symbols 😉

Emojis stand out, so they must grab attention. Right? 

It’s not quite as clear cut as that.

But, the good news is that a report by Experian found that 56% of brands using emojis in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate.

Disclaimer: Before you run off adding half of the emoji catalogue to your latest campaign, consider whether it’s well suited to your brand voice. Will your target audience get it?

Test a couple of subject lines with a small group and gauge their reactions.

6: RE: or FWD:

It’s certainly not a new tactic and it’s almighty sneaky, but it does continue to boost open rates.

Using “Re:” or “Fwd:” at the start of your subject line gives the impression that you’re replying to an email from the reader, or forwarding them something of interest – as if you were a colleague or a friend

Use this sparingly. Readers don’t like to feel duped. Your focus is on building that authentic relationship and gaining trust.  

So there you have it.

We’ve covered six simple ingredients key to achieving more opens from your email marketing efforts. 

If you’ve put the time into creating your campaigns, you don’t want to fall at the first hurdle. Every open is an opportunity.

If you want more subject lines you can swipe and deploy for your own email campaigns, check out the free 20 Best Subject Lines eBook or Opened: Great Subject Lines for Higher Email Open Rates.

Want to dive deeper and really push the numbers? There are plenty of other quick wins and smart techniques you can use to get more people opening your emails.

Book a call with me to enhance your email marketing today.

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