How To Write Irresistible Email Subject Lines

social fish
social fish

An email subject line is like a lede/hook for a pitch. It’s your introduction – the thing that grabs the reader’s attention and entices them into opening it to find out more. A poorly crafted subject runs the risk of sounding salesy, unprofessional, boring or, horror of horrors, spammy. And therefore, is more likely to get sent to the trash without ever being opened.

The subject line is the key to increasing your email open rates. It doesn’t matter how eloquently you express yourself in the message if you can’t get people to open your email in the first place. So how do you write a subject line that will send them clicking to read what comes next?

1. Use C.U.R.V.E.

Curiosity. Presenting a question or a mystery in the subject line will make them itch to find out more.

Urgency. Make them feel that they must act now. Present a deadline. Use language like “instantly” or “right away” or “now” or “urgent.” A sense of urgency will trigger a click to open.

Relevancy. Why should your email matter to the recipient?

Value. How will the recipient benefit from your company/product/idea?

Emotion. Get them excited. Make them angry. Stirring up emotions is one of the most effective ways of getting someone to open an email.

2. Get Personal

Address the recipient by name in the subject line.

Ex: Sally, it’s time to act.

Addressing reader by name provides a feeling of familiarity. It also leads the recipient to believe that whatever you have to say is relevant to them.

3. Ask Open-ended Questions

Asking questions is a good way to get someone to interact with you, but there are certain types of questions that work well and others that aren’t as successful. Closed ended questions, those that the recipient can clearly answer yes or no (Ex: Are you on a diet?) are not as interesting as open-ended questions (How we can help you cook faster, healthier meals?).

Readers can answer the opened-ended questions for themselves and may not be compelled to open your email. But the closed-ended ones will require them to open your email to find out the answer.

4. Response Needed

If you need the reader to respond, let them know in the subject line by saying “Response needed” or “Please reply.” This also gives the recipient a sense of urgency- they’ve been given a command and they will click to see if they need to follow it.

5. Economize & Prioritize

You have 60 characters if the recipient is opening the email on a computer and 25-30 characters if the recipient is opening it on a phone. Since it’s impossible to know which device they will use, it’s best to put the most important words at the beginning of the subject line. Economize your words. Make sure the message is short, but descriptive enough to give the reader an idea of what the email body will be about.

6. Anti-Spam

You want to avoid looking like spam as much as possible. Click here for The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words. Make sure your subject line is free of spammy language.

7. Appearances Matter

CAPS Lock is basically the same thing as using spam language. Don’t do it. Same goes for exclamation points and symbols. They look and feel aggressive to the reader. If you want to be bold, do it with words. It’s more effective and more professional.


Good Example: If you thought Apple was great, you haven’t seen us yet.

8. Timing is Everything

It’s not only important how you write your message but when you send it.

Mondays and weekends are not as optimal as Tuesday-Friday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are particularly good for getting good email open rates. If you’re sending your message to a business, think about their opening hours and busiest times. For example, a restaurant owner will be busy until after the lunch rush. Then would be a good time to reach out.

Best of luck on increasing your email open rates with awesome subject lines!

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