5 Ways to Create an Irresistible Subject Line

How many emails do you receive a day? Better question–how many do you actually open and read? Unless it’s from a family member or for work, that number is probably low. Why is that? Is it the company? Or do we just not have time anymore to really care?

The truth could be a mix of the above, but the real nitty-gritty reason emails don’t get opened is the subject line. So, how do we fix that?

Simple. Get strategic with your subject lines. As a copywriter, I compose email copy every single day–and I’ve learned just how important those 30-50 characters are to the success of an email. Below I’ve listed 5 ways to create irresistible subject lines.

1. Be Clear.
We all have the tendency to want to be playful in a subject line. Or to make it sound like the best thing to ever grace an inbox. However, when it comes to increasing open rates, the key is to make your words clear as day. Let them know what they will be opening. Make it easy and fast to read.

That being said, you don’t have to be as drab as grandma’s couch. There is some wiggle room for play. Unicode and HTML symbols can be used to catch their eye. And you can leave small bits of information out, which often incites those delicious clicks.

2. Be Personal.
Like every marketing strategy, it’s important to know your audience. What are their pain points, wants, needs, or things they need to know? Cater to them. For example, if you have a sale on black dresses. Why would someone need a black dress? Funeral, party, interview, or a hot date–if you can find the answer and craft it into your subject line, then you’re on the right track.

Another way to think of this tactic is to understand what you personally would open. Even though I am a copywriter, I am still a consumer. I frequently look at my inbox habits and keep them in mind when writing.

3. Be Clever/Relevant.
This is where you can sprinkle in the fun of email marketing. Symbols, word play, puns, movie lines, clichés, current stories, celebrities, songs, seasonal phrases, and sensory appeal are all ways you can bring cleverness into your subject lines.

Just last week I wrote a subject line which was simply: “Yule ♥ Daily Deals!” Clear, seasonal and it got opened.

4. Be Unafraid.

Subject lines shouldn’t feel like the SAT’s–“Choose the best answer”. They shouldn’t keep you up at night or drafting a million options. They should feel like an exciting challenge. Be open to trying new things. Write short, long, mysterious, clear, funny, inquisitive, confident, vulnerable, and the list goes on and on.

Be unafraid, but always remain true to your brand. Being inauthentic is the quickest way to getting the inbox boot–an email marketer’s death sentence.

5. Be Proactive.
Think of your subject lines and email marketing as your digital dollar baby. Nourish them and spend the time to raise them right. I always spend the most time composing subject lines and preheaders. Just like a book, people do judge emails by their covers.

Test and adapt your subject lines. Common practice is a simple 50/50 test. Subject line A goes to one half and subject line B to the other. The best result is recorded as successful and should be referred to the next time.

Do research and keep up on email marketing best practices. The Gmail tab switch threw email marketers through a loop, and as a result hundreds of articles and strategies were developed to overcome the challenge. Read them.

Great copywriting resources (that I love):

If writing just isn’t your thing, consider hiring a copywriter. Though, make sure your hire is up for the challenge of writing in a concise manner and is highly interested in marketing.

So, are you ready to create some irresistible subject lines? By using one or more of these tactics, I guarantee you’ll see some great results to both your open rates and your bottom line.


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6 East Washington St. #200
Indianapolis, IN 46204


info@nimblejack.com