Create More Eye-Catching Subject Lines

There are times when improving your email open and conversion rates can seem like a daunting task. Constantly having to generate new copy and leave you frazzled and uninspired. Fortunately, discovering what works – and doesn’t work – in your email messages can allow you to improve your rates more easily. In this article, we’ll explore the characteristics of engaging subject lines and show you how to use them to your advantage.

Why Are Subject Lines Important?

First impressions are important, whether it’s in real life or in an email. Creating eye-catching email subject lines can help your business make a great first impression with a potential customer. Simply put, if the customer doesn’t connect with your subject line, he or she won’t open your message.

Changing your approach to subject lines requires a small amount of effort, but it can yield a large return. And because a subject line is short, it’s ideal for split testing. Other than the “time of send” and “from address” variables, the subject line is the only other factor that affects email open rates. If you send emails from a fixed address and time of day, you can quickly determine what subject line words and phrases attract customers.

Young man checking his email from his iPad
Don’t use the same tired phrases that so many other companies use. Words like “free” or “special offer” are shown to decrease open rates.

Five Tips for Writing the Best Subject Lines

If you’re ready to improve your email open rates through eye-catching email subject lines, here are a few techniques to get you started:

1. Choose Your Words Carefully

Word choice is critical when it comes to creating an engaging subject line. Here are a few words we recommend you avoid:

  • “Free” or “Discount”: Using these words can decrease your offer’s value. Many data reports have shown that these words decrease open rates.
  • “Last Chance”: One study of 30,000 broadcasts showed that messages containing the phrase “Last Chance” have decreased open rates. However, the phrase continues to appear in at least one of out of 100 emails sent.
    Instead of using these ineffective phrases, consider using the following:
  • “Important” or “Urgent”: These words clearly increase urgency, prompting the recipient to open the message.
  • Promotional words: “Bonus” or “Gift” typically are more effective than words like “Free” or “Discount.” Plus, they don’t devalue your offer and seem more personal.
  • Gratitude: Thank your customers by using words like “Thank you” or “appreciation.” Messages with these words were shown to have higher open rates.

2. Use FOMO to Your Advantage

FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is that uncomfortable feeling you get when you suspect others are doing something fun and you’re not. Using FOMO is a great marketing strategy, and it’s especially effective when it comes to writing a subject line. It creates strong emotions quickly, prompting the customer to open the message.

To leverage FOMO, find out what motivates your target audience. If your audience wouldn’t want to miss out on a sale or discount, use that in your subject line. Using the phrases “Limited Time” and “Don’t Miss Out!” are two ways to drive urgency. No matter how you use FOMO, be sure to include a clear call-to-action inside the email.

3. Avoid Being Too Formal

People want to communicate with actual people, and they can be highly turned off by robotic messaging. Using personal email subject lines that are written in a conversational, authentic tone typically are the most effective.
One way to make your email messages more approachable is to incorporate emojis. While they may seem whimsical, many industries have seen success by using these fun symbols in their messages. You can also try loosening up your grammar for a more casual approach, shortening sentences and adopting a more laid-back tone.

Woman typing an new email from her laptop, pausing to craft a clever subject line
Remember your customers are actual human beings. Use down-to-Earth language in your emails.

4. Ask the Right Questions

Using questions in a subject line is another great way to bolster open rates. In fact, some studies have shown that questions are engaging to customers – especially if they’re left hanging for an answer. They leave your customer attentive, interested and wanting to know more.

5. Use Intelligent Testing Strategies

Last, but certainly not least, knowing what subject line techniques work best for your business is critical. You can gather this information by running tests and then measuring your success. If you’re unsure how to get started, here are a few testing tips to try:

  • Narrow down variables: Limiting the variables you work with can help you receive clearer test results. For example, if you typically send emails at a certain time, don’t change the time if you’re also altering the subject line.
  • Use segmented lists: Tag your customers so that you know which groups received which emails. This allows you to better customize your personal email subject lines.
  • Don’t run tests just to test: If you run unnecessary tests, you’ll simply be creating more work for yourself without learning much. Always test with a specific goal in mind.

Final Thoughts

Most importantly, be patient with your testing strategy. When working to improve a subject line, give the email enough time to be seen by customers. Change may not happen overnight, but over time, learning how to craft the best subject lines possible will create great rewards for your company.

9 Secret Tricks of Prospecting Emails That Convert to Sales

Avatar for Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo is a certified HubSpot Inbound Marketing expert, Senior Brand Strategist, as well as a lover of family, friends, and life. He enjoys good health, Tae Kwon-Do and discovering the most influential marketing trends.


Avatar for Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo is a certified HubSpot Inbound Marketing expert, Senior Brand Strategist, as well as a lover of family, friends, and life. He enjoys good health, Tae Kwon-Do and discovering the most influential marketing trends.