Email marketing can bring an incredible return on investment to your business bringing you an average of £36 for every £1 spent.

But there is a caveat…

People have to actually open your emails. 

You can write the best sales email with an insanely good offer, but if people don’t read what you’ve sent, it won’t bring you any business. 

For this single reason alone, the subject line is the most important part of any email marketing campaign. 

So how do you write subject lines that get opened? 

How To Write Subject Lines That Get Opened

Leave A Little To The Imagination 

You know those super-annoying click-bait articles that pop up in your feed on Facebook? The ones that you KNOW are going to lead you to a painfully-ad-rammed page with multiple clicks before you get the information you’re looking for? Yet you still click it? 

They work because they intrigue you…

Things like “You won’t believe what they found in the basement” or “Before You Buy Fidget Spinners, Read This” or “Kim Kardashian Never Leaves The House Before Doing This” leave a lot to the imagination. 

You want to know what’s missing, no – you NEED to know what’s missing!

That intrigue and “missing information” is incredibly powerful and you can use it in your subject lines too. 

I’m not suggesting you go all clickbaity and start sending emails with subject lines about the Kardashians, just that you leave a little – or actually a lot – to the imagination when it comes to writing subject lines. 

Some of my best performers include: 

  • 9pm Tonight
  • People Find This Weird 
  • Are You Getting This Wrong? 
  • Just Say No 
  • A Big Fat Lie 
  • Code Red! 

As you can see, super vague – very intriguing. 

Most business owners go wrong because they think the subject line needs to tell the person what the email is about – but in actual fact, you need to do the opposite. 

You need to NOT tell them what it’s about, but tease them with a subject line that makes them NEED to know more. 

How To Write Subject Lines That Get Opened

But Don’t Go Too Far…

Vague, intriguing subject lines are great – but they do have to tie into the email copy in some way or you’ll lose trust from your audience. 

Let’s say you use the subject line above (Code Red!) that performed really well for my client, but there was nothing in the email that made it make sense. 

No reference to an emergency. No explanation of what it means. 

It would leave your reader confused, frustrated and annoyed. Like when you fall prey to the clickbait articles on Facebook only to find the answer isn’t on the page and you’ll never discover WHAT they found inside the shark’s stomach! 

You have to scratch that itch you created or they’ll be less inclined to open your emails again. 

BUT it doesn’t have to be much. You don’t have to spend your whole email tying the subject line together, it can be as little as a single line that makes it make sense.

How To Write Subject Lines That Get Opened

Keep It Simple 

Don’t reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to spend hours trying to craft the perfect subject line from scratch. Look for inspiration. 

Sign up to some successful email marketers lists and see what they’re doing? How can you swipe and deploy it in your business? 

I’d love to say I came up with the idea of my super successful subject line “9pm Tonight” but in actual fact, someone else once sent me something similar and it made me want to open it! 

Now, I’m not suggesting plagiarism. If you start copying other people’s work word for word then you’ll piss people off and lose your integrity in the industry. 

But using your inbox for inspiration is just good sense. 

People are sending you emails every single day – probably hundreds of them. Which ones make you want to open them? What catches your eye? 

Think about why? 

What was it about that subject line that made you want to see what was inside? Could you take that principle and apply it to your business?

How To Write Subject Lines That Get Opened

Your Inspiration File 

Your Inspiration file is a folder in your inbox or on your computer in which you keep copies of good marketing to use for your inspiration. 

I have a folder in my inbox called “Inspiration”. Every time I see some marketing that catches my attention, I save it in here. 

I’m a pretty hard sell, I mean, I know all the tricks of the trade so if something catches my attention then I know it’s got to be good! 

When I’m in need of a subject line for an email campaign I have a quick squiz through the folder and see if anything stands out. If there’s anything in there that could be adapted to work for the email I’m going to send. 

This helps prevent writer’s block and ensure that the subject lines I’m sending are likely to work. 

How To Write Subject Lines That Get Opened

And Finally, Don’t Just Take My Word For It 

Can’t I just give you a list of great subject lines and let you copy them? 

I can, and I have – (see the list above!) but marketing is never that simple. 

Just because that headline worked for that client with that campaign, doesn’t mean it will work for you. 

So as with all marketing, try it and test it and tweak it! 

What works for my B2B freight forwarding company won’t necessarily work for the high-end aesthetics clinic I work with. You have to try things and see how they play out. 


Want To Learn More About Getting Your Emails Opened?

Check out my previous blog post “Help! People Aren’t Getting My Emails – 6 Things That Land You In The Junk Folder” 

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Lucinda Dawes

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