Mar 14, 2018

Marketers—Increase Your Open Rate with Smart Subject Lines

If your business has yet to implement email marketing into your overall digital strategy, you can be sure you’re missing out. Just check out these hard marketing engagement statistics for 2018-the data shows that small and large businesses are enjoying open rates pushing 28%, depending on the industry.

What the stats don’t reveal is the beauty in capturing your recipient’s attention, and compelling them to open that email with the hook from the subject line. A catchy subject line is no different than a catchy tune, both effortlessly ease their way into your subconscious, and next thing you know, you’re humming along or, in the case of email, click that button.

There are hard numbers to support this reality as well, 47% percent of email recipients open a message based on the subject line alone. You don’t want to know how many hit that “report” button if they think the message is spam (actually it’s 69%). So the trick is hooking the recipient immediately and authentically.

Here are few ways to achieve just that.

Understand the Components

Just like there are fundamental components of a successful song that come together to make the whole, there are also components to a successful email subject. Here are the common elements you’ll find in top-performing email subject lines.

  • Urgencya savvy marketer knows precisely when to implement a time-sensitive call-to-action, and implore the recipient to “act now!” or “sign up today!” However, these need to be extremely valuable to your audience, or they aren’t going to be interested. Spirit airlines capture the art of urgency in this well crafted subject line. It’s not pushy, but it gives a due date for when their audience must take action in order to receive any benefits.



  • Curiosity—the line grabs attention right away with a compelling (and often cryptic) hook. LuLu’s peaked the curiosity of their audience by announcing their new clothesline with the subject line of “ Oh Hello, NEW! |JUST DROPPED.” When their audience opened this email, it showcased their new clothing line.


  • Special offers—mentioning anything for free or discounted in a subject line will automatically pique interest. This is doubly true if the recipient has to do little more than open an email to receive a discount or free item. However, readers must be cautious of sounding like spam. If you overdo it, you’ll surely end up in their junk box. Here’s how Book of the Month club enticed their readers to open their March email with a free read, without sounding like spam.

  • Personalization—email rates with a personalized subject line have a 6.2% higher open rate than those that don’t. The best marketers understand this and utilize big data accordingly to craft personalized messages for their recipients.
  • Relevance—an email with a timely subject line featuring trending topics will show that the sender’s message is relevant. This tactic will make your brand extremely relatable in the eyes of your receivers. During the month of February, the winter games were the topic of many discussions. Planet Fitness took advantage of a topic that was relevant to their industry and made it their own.


  • Name dropping—whether it’s a socialite or a famous athlete, brands have gotten a lot of opens by aligning their product or service with a major name. Think about how interested a recipient might be to learn your beauty brand “is part of Khloe Kardashian’s regime,” or, “Tom Brady uses this supplement to stay in shape.” The key, of course, is finding a name that legitimately aligns with your brand, and is relevant. Fabletics does a great job of utilizing the face of their brand, Demi Lovato, not just in their ads, but also in their email marketing campaigns.



  • Compelling stories—everyone loves a good story. So starting a subject line with, “How this girl saved her village,” or, “How one man went from broke to billions with a single strategy,” is bound to turn a few heads. Telling your readers compelling stories that align with your band’s values are going to make your readers want to open the email to learn more.

Don’t get too Wordy

So you understand the fundamentals, and you’ve seen the successful examples. Now it’s time to implement a solid strategy. First and foremost, keep the subject line short. A concise message is always going to outperform a wordy one. But just as importantly, you have to consider technology.

We live in the mobile age so it’s no surprise that 67% of emails are opened on smartphones and tablets. And these mobile users have even less patience than they do when they’re on a desktop or laptop computer. To this end, we recommend keeping subjects to fewer than 50 characters so that mobile users can actually see the entire headline.

And be sure to begin your subject line with an active verb. An email headline that begins with “Get your member discount now!” motivates much more than, “Hello and welcome to our member discount system.”

Send Emails from Personal Accounts

Even if it’s coming from a company. For example, looks infinitely more welcoming than I wouldn’t open the latter—would you? The point is to always give a real name, from a real account, whenever possible. Because it’s those inhuman messages that cause us all to click the “spam button.”

Add Personalization Tags

This goes directly to that component we discussed earlier. Even something as simple as mentioning the recipient’s first name in an email line goes a long way to getting them to open. And if your product or service has relevance to the city or town they live in, mention that specifically.


And finally, even in the digital age, be sure to follow that age-old tenet of sales: never make a promise you can’t keep. This is particularly apt when crafting a solid email subject line. If your subject states that the recipient will receive a one-click free offer, then give them that offer. No bait and switch, or run around, or fine print. A false promise will irk your audience, and your odds of ever getting them to open another email from you will be slim to none.


Now that you know how to craft magnificent subject lines, make sure you are keeping up with all of the latest 2018 email marketing trends

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