Improve Your Open Rates With These 12 Subject Line Tweaks

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It’s been said many times that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

But when it comes to your marketing email, no one seems to have a problem with making a snap decision.

Good email subject lines can make a powerful impact on your readers.

The words you choose for your email subject lines can have a big impact on whether or not the hard work you’ve put into your email will pay off.

Spending a little extra time on your subject line will help you boost email open rates, avoid the junk folder, and get your message in front of the right people.

New to email marketing? You can sign up for a free 60-day email marketing trial here. 

Before you hit send on your next email, here are 12 tweaks to consider:

  1. Cut it down

What good is your subject line if people can’t read it? Make sure your subject line doesn’t get cut short by keeping it under 40 characters or about five to seven words.

Your readers want to scan through their inbox quickly. Sometimes subject lines that use only a word or two can stand out and get the most engagement.

  1. Take out anything spammy

Subject lines that are aggressively salesy are often the most likely to be marked as spam. That means you should avoid loud punctuation like all caps and multiple exclamation points, as well as overtly promotional language like “Buy now” or “Free.”

Instead of focusing on promotion, try offering your expertise and sharing information your audience will find useful.

  1. Ask a question

Why should you use questions in your subject lines? Questions are a great way to focus your readers’ attention and pique their curiosity.

Questions also feel incomplete on their own. Using a question will inspire readers to open your email in search of an answer.

  1. Include a deadline

Considering there’s no shortage of distractions standing between you and your readers, sometimes a deadline is just what you need to become a priority.

A successful promotional strategy, for an event or a special offer, will likely include a series of emails. You can send out an initial announcement, letting people know about an upcoming date. Then, follow up with a reminder and a last chance email when the deadline gets closer.

Don’t be afraid to make the turnaround time as short as 24 hours. “Now or never” types of deadlines are often the most successful.

  1. Try a teaser

Think about why people love movie trailers, but hate commercials. There’s power in drawing people in with a preview, rather than giving away the punchline right at the start.

Try to think of something that will hook your readers and spark their interest.

  1. Give a command

On the other hand, some people respond best to direct instructions. If your email has a direct call to action, like encouraging people to buy tickets for an event, don’t be afraid to let your subject line reflect that.

  1. Add a list

You’ve probably noticed how popular list posts are right now. If not, look no further than the title of this post.

People love lists because they allow us to make sense of big, complicated concepts through a series of smaller parts.  Use a list in your subject line as a way to let your readers know your content is well organized and easily digestible.

  1. Make an announcement

If you have something new and exciting to share about your business or organization, channel that enthusiasm into your subject line.

Sharing an announcement will make your email subscribers feel like they’re the first to know and will motivate them to read on for all the details.

  1. Be unique

To craft a good subject line you need to understand two things: who your audience is, and what your business can offer them that they can’t get anywhere else. Think about what your business is specifically known for and highlight that in your subject line.

Don’t be afraid to put your business’s name right in the subject line. Many people will open emails simply based on the sender alone, so don’t miss the chance to reinforce your specific brand.

  1. Tell a joke

Most people aren’t bursting into laughter while going through their inbox. That means if you can write a funny subject line, you’re going to get a lot of attention.

Depending on the tone your business is going for, you can test out some puns or wordplay to get some laughs and engagement out of your contacts.

  1. Say something unexpected

If funny isn’t really your thing, why not give surprising a try? This could be anything from a little-known fact about your industry, an eyebrow-raising statistic, or just something people aren’t used to hearing.

Sharing something unexpected means your readers will want to read on and will also have a better chance of remembering your email later on.

  1. Use multimedia

Adding a video, linking to a presentation or podcast, or including a helpful guide are all great ways to make your email content varied and more engaging.

So, if you’re putting in the effort and going beyond plain text emails, make sure you’re telling your contacts right from the subject line so they don’t miss out!

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to write good email subject lines that will get your emails the attention they deserve.

But don’t rely on our advice alone.

Take a look at your own inbox and see which emails you’ve been opening. Putting yourself in your contacts’ shoes is one of the best ways to write a subject line that will get you noticed and boost your business.


The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accountingmarketingtechnology and more.  Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted.  The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.