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"There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story.
You never quite know where they`ll take you." ― Beatrix Potter

How To Write Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

As our client base for campaign management continues to grow each week, one of the top questions I always hear is:

"How should we write our subject lines - is there a right way to do it?"

Whilst there's definitely a right way to do it, there isn't really a wrong way AS LONG AS you follow certain rules.  Not following the rules and sending out non responsive email subject lines could damage your list as it trains your subscribers to ignore your emails... AND if the majority of your subscribers use an email service provider such as Gmail, then Gmail's filters will learn that this isn't something that's important and they'll automatically add it to the spam list.  So you can start to see the importance of getting this right.

So to keep you safe I've put together a sort of checklist/guide that I'm calling my Subject Line WIN list.  Use these in your auto-responder follow up sequences and your broadcasts and watch your open rates increase dramatically.  So here we go:

1) Avoid The Spam Blockers

Yes there are certain words that spammers use in their emails that you should DEFINITELY avoid putting into your subject lines.  The image below show's you which one's to avoid like the plague! - BUT there are literally hundreds of these words.  The good news is that you can get a complete list of these here: Very naughty words.


2) Don't Use Capital Letters

Using all capitals (shouting in internet land) is another big no-no that triggers the spam filters.  Please don't do this.  Spam filters will not allow you to shout at people.

3) Use Long Subject Lines

From the testing we've carried out in a wide range of different markets, we've found that longer subject lines get better open rates.  Approximately 50 characters is a good length.  Of course, this means you get more room to persuade the subscriber to open your email.  Win-Win!

4) No Smoke and Mirrors

Be upfront, honest and tell the subscriber what's going to be in the email content.  Certainty is one of the core human needs - play to it!  Make people feel that when they click on your email that they're in control and safe.

5) Use A Number

People love numbers! I'm not sure exactly why this is but it probably borrows power from the need of certainty and our most valuable currency, time.  I.e. What exactly are you going to show me and is it worth my time?

6) Make It Personal

It's always good to start your email subject lines and your email content with a first name tag.  It does get attention, however, don't overuse this.  I'd recommend only using it in the subject line 1 out of every 3 times, sometimes less.  It's best to use the first name tag when you know you have better rapport with your email list but this will depend on the type of industry you're in.

7) Ask An Open Question

Asking open questions will make people pause for thought and instantly place themselves into the context or situation that the subject line creates.  It's also a great way to build intrigue and a sense of curiosity.

8) Use Exciting Words

Well.. as exciting as a word can be.  What I mean here is to use words that pack-a-punch like

  • Essential...
  • Powerful...
  • Must Have...
  • Breakthrough...
  • Proven...
These high voltage words are a winning ingredient to making emails irresistible to open.

9) Time

Everybody worries about running out of time and you should be taking advantage of this with your email subject lines.  You can use it both positively and negatively by either saving people time, like "double email open rates", or adding time pressure "only 10 hours left to register...".

Examples That Use The "Subject Line WIN List"

"9 powerful tips to double your email open rate"
"James, get the proven strategy for increased email open rate"
"Do your email open rate stats look like this...?"
"2 min video shows exactly how to double your open rate"
"The 1 thing to avoid that will lose you email opens"

As always, questions, comments and large donations are welcome.

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