How To Write A Compelling Subject Line



Are you writing optimal subject lines? In this blog post, learn 5 tips to write subject lines that get emails read! From the ideal word count to "magic words" to use, explore how you can improve subject lines and email performance.

By Brittany Lieu, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line (Invesp).

Inboxes are always full and spam folders are fuller. 

As marketers, we rely on email as one of few channels to not only reach our prospects but to also nurture connection and impart value. Your email subject line is the first and possibly only opportunity to prove the worth of your offerings. It’s your opening line. How are you optimizing your first impression in a sea of unreads?

There is no exact science to predicting what people will click on but here are a few proven tips to help you master the art of subject line writing and bump up open rates. 

Shorter is Better

46% of emails are browsed and opened on mobile (Hubspot). This means two things for you. (1) Keep things short. A typical inbox on a mobile phone shows between 25-30 characters and a desktop inbox will likely show about 60 characters of your subject line. The ideal range falls between 6-8 words. The second tip is (2) front-load. To make sure the most important part of your subject line gets displayed, shift the compelling details to the first 3-4 words. 

Create Curiosity 

A great subject line will effectively pique interest in viewers like a great movie trailer would. Align what you have to offer in your email without giving it all away. What’s one way to do this? Appeal to readers’ curiosity and their potential pain points. Ask questions to motivate readers to open your email for answers.  

Here’s a great example. In a lead nurture process, DocuSign did just this with the subject line “What are your customers saying?” In the email they shared a collection of case studies and customer testimonials to further push recipients along the funnel.

Another alternative is using numbers. Get readers curious with a subject line that showcases data or important numeric values. This could be measurable benefits of your offerings, number of customers that enjoy your services or shocking statistics. 

Make it Personal

People love to be recognized. We all know that using the [FIRSTNAME] dynamic field is a given but how else can you leverage the power of personalization? “You” and “Yours” are great alternatives to the recipient’s name. Close the distance and create a conversational tone before they even open your email. 

Magic Words

According to MailChimp, the two-word phrases that impacted open rates the most were “Thank you” and “Sneak Peek.” In all the cases where you aren’t thanking your prospect or previewing a launch, consider leading with another category of magical words – action verbs. 

Subject lines are akin to CTAs. Subject lines that lead with powerful action verbs help instill urgency and excitement. 

Prioritize Clarity Over Catchiness

Clear and concise should always be your first priority. Anything too complex or long won’t get the time of day. A reader should be able to glance at your subject line and not only be intrigued but also understand what your email will contain. 

Once you’ve created a clear message within the 6-8 word range, that’s when you can incorporate creativity. Make it catchy, funny, maybe even punny. Just make sure you don’t lose meaning or compromise on the readability of your short subject line.

Take These Tips with You!

Good subject lines get read but great ones get clicks. Rethink how you preface your emails and create more opportunities to connect with your audience. There is no magical formula but there are magic words and techniques to enhance the performance of your subject lines. Leverage A/B testing opportunities and improve those open rates!

Want to pick up more actionable tips about email marketing? Check out our related articles below for more.