How to Write Email Subject Lines People Actually Want to Click

319 billion.

That’s the total number of emails–both consumer and business–sent and received daily in 2021, on average.

That number is poised to increase to 376 billion by 2025.

Statistic: Number of sent and received e-mails per day worldwide from 2017 to 2025 (in billions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista 

Yet, just 17.6% of these emails get opened on average, let alone read or clicked through.

So, how do you make sure your emails fall among that 17.6% that get opened, read, and clicked? It all starts with your subject line.

Email subject lines may seem like a very small part of your message. Yet, they’re one of the very first impressions you have on those who receive your emails. Plus, they’re your ticket to standing out in a crowded inbox.

The inevitable question arises: “how do you write email subject lines that people actually want to click, open, and act on?”

Read on for some tried-and-true tips to help jazz up your subject lines and boost your emails’ overall engagement.

Before we get there…

Why are email subject lines important?

Isn’t it obvious already? 

Your email subject line is the first thing that captivates your recipient. Learning how to write email subject lines people actually want to click requires that you know what stirs up interest in your readers.

Think of it like reading the title of a book or the headline of an article or even the title of a movie. For sure, you would always want a clear reason to dig in and the first true motivation will be a compelling caption. 

Your email subject line is the first impression you will be creating for your recipient. It will entirely determine if your email will get a click or be trashed. This is why you must make sure your email subject line is catchy, informative, and appeals to your potential reader.

Let’s take a step back…

Yes, you know why email subject lines are important but you might be tempted to ask: “does email marketing still work?”

Well, I’m not going to bore you with a million stats.

Instead, I’m going to quickly show you why email marketing still works like magic.

Here’s the thing. The average email subscriber is worth $48.87, according to the guys at Data & Marketing Association.

Email Subject Lines: How to Write Subject Lines People Want to Click

This super high worth is probably why 86% of marketers consider email important.

Email marketing is also a powerful lead generation strategy that can help you convert more subscribers into loyal customers. How? You ask… Read this.

And yes! If you’re looking to sell any product or service faster and better via email, we have a really detailed guide to help out.

Keep an eye on your competition

You know how it is when different brands compete in the market and fight over getting a greater market share, right? You also know how it is when you have to make a choice between brands at the grocery store. This is the same way your email subject line will either float or sink when it meets with competition in your recipient’s inbox. 

Your email subject line should be so good that when someone catches a glimpse, they pause at every other thing, and click that email open.

Read on to find out how to write email subject lines people actually want to click. And, oh! If you read till the end, I’ll send you a gift–something that will help you in your email marketing endeavors. 

Tips to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line 

1. Keep it short and sweet

There wouldn’t much need to overemphasize this point.

If you’re wondering why people don’t read, the reasons are obvious: time is a major factor. Then, of course, people are easily distracted. The average human attention span has gone from 12 seconds down to 8 seconds. 

What people do is glance through and if nothing wows them enough to give a second look, they simply scroll past your content.

Determining the length of your email subject line is not that easy since you’re trying to communicate in the best way with the least amount of words. But here’s what you can do. Find the right expression, that is informative and promises value to your reader.

Writing more than 40 characters puts you at the risk of having part of your email subject line cut off when people open it on their mobile phones. For one thing,  77% of email opens are taking place on mobile as most people access their emails using their mobile phones. So, you want to be sure mobile email providers aren’t cutting off part of your subject line by keeping it short.

If you’re sending an order confirmation email, “Your order is being processed” is way shorter and sweeter than, “Order #9435893458358 is being processed.”

Truth is, the shorter your email subject line is, the better. 

What’s more, you and your audience have something in common: you want to write less, and they want to read less. 

You might think subject lines must be easy to whip up. That just about everyone is capable of stringing together a few words.

As it turns out, however, writing a short copy takes more than just good writing skills — it requires a deep understanding of your target audience and a knack for translating a larger message into a few words designed to strike just the right chord. 

To help you write more concisely, here are a few things you can do at the foundational level with:

  • Remove any adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions from your subject line. 
  • Replace phrases with one word. 
  • Use numerals instead of writing out numbers.

These three-pointers are a good first step. Let’s look at other tips for keeping those subject lines as short as possible.

How do you keep them short?

One way to get at a short subject line for your email is to take out too much detail. As much as you can be direct, hit the nail on the head. Also, use emojis, they effectively convey emotions saving you from using so many words that would have ruined the length of your subject line.

Personalize your subject line

Personalizing your email subject line is very important especially when you are sending out emails for the first time or when your email is meeting new people on your email list. 

For one thing, personalized subject lines boost response rates by a whopping 30.5%.

Because you want to establish a bond with whoever is reading your email, you must be natural, coming through as a familiar voice. You don’t want your reader thinking that they’re receiving emails from some robot. 

Personalizing your email subject line will serve as a more specific approach. Psychologically, people build walls around them and it is easy to break through these walls when you come through the door of friendship. When you’re less formal and more approachable, your recipient connects better with you. The point here is to give your recipient a sense of belonging which will make them want to go on with the hand of friendship you’re extending. 

Here’s how to personalize your subject line.

In personalizing your email subject line, you’re keeping your recipient in mind. This means all that you know about your recipient will be your vantage point in making your email subject line clearly about them. 

You must consider answering questions like, “what are their interests?”, “what challenges are they facing?”, “are they younger or older people?”, “are they married or single?”, “do they work or stay home?”

You may want to mention the name of your recipient; people are more prone to respond when you call them by their names. That’s right. It makes them more comfortable and also feels valued. Consider how you react when you see dozens of emails in your inbox. The one that catches your eyes is often the one that mentions your name.

Email Subject Lines: How to Write Subject Lines People Want to Click

Moreover, you can use demographic information and even offer deals based on customers’ past purchases. For example, if your recipient’s past records show that they have previously purchased fitness wear like waist trainers, you may want to catch their interest with a subject line that hits on fitness and even diet. If your reader knows that there’s something in the email that will be relevant to them, they’re sure to give it a click.

2. Create a sense of urgency with your email subject lines

People never like to miss out on something good. So, when you tell them time is running out on their side and that the offer you have put on the table is gradually slipping off their fingers, they respond faster. 

Expressions like:

  • Few products left
  • 24 hours to go 
  • Hurry
  • Act now
  • Now

…go a long way to drive motivation. 

Marketing is all about human psychology and understanding how the brain works can place you steps ahead of the best marketers. People have the tendency of wanting to wait for a little or think a little. This delay can be dealt with by simply raising the level of urgency. 

So, how do you create a sense of urgency with your email subject line?

Scarcity

This is a mind trick.

When people know something is running out, they get more pressured to get it. Let’s face it. No one ever wants to be left out. It’s the fear of not wanting to regret later that drives people to pop open your email. 

Email Subject Lines: How to Write Subject Lines People Want to Click

For example, if you’re selling products, you can create scarcity by saying, “10 items left, grab yours now.” The fact that your customers know it’s running out, they’ll respond faster. And be sure not to lie to them just for the sake of creating scarcity.

Use the timer or countdown strategy

Remind your users that the clock is ticking, reiterating how little time they have left. This also puts them under a certain kind of pressure, raising their anxiety and thus, making them respond faster.

 Initiate an impending danger or catastrophe

Fear often makes people act fast, just like what happens in the popular reality TV show, Fear Factor. If you watch this show, then you can attest to the extra will and energy fear brings to the game. 

Expressions like you will fail again if you don’t see this triggers a sense of urgency. When your recipient gets a suggestion that mirrors to them why they are stuck in that problem or a suggestion that predicts their future in an unfavorable way, they become more eager to find out how not to fall into that situation or how to catch that beautiful future.

Competition

Competitive situations are a very good opportunity to release the urgency instinct. For example, when you say the first 10 people who sign up for the class will get free books or courses, this kind of offer sparks a rush and many more people sign up mainly to enjoy the promised freebies.  

Use words of urgency

Use words that denote a shortage of time. Words like now, today, fast, close, immediately, over, last, instant, seconds, do quite well here. When you use these words, the mind thinks about one thing: time. 

3. Use emojis in your email subject lines

Emojis have become very common in text conversations. They can also do well for your email subject line. They capture your reader’s attention and helps to lighten the mood of seriousness often associated with receiving an email. 

Emojis go a long way to clear up ambiguity from a message whose tone could be interpreted in more than one way. Using a smiley face, for instance, can reassure your reader that you’re being friendly over an expression they could interpret otherwise. This also makes you appear more relatable and friendly.

Be careful, however, not to go overboard with emojis. Use them sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.

4. Create a sense of curiosity with a question 

This works well in articles. Nonetheless, using it for email marketing will do too. 

When you ask a relevant question, your recipient is motivated to click open to find out the answer. 

By asking questions like: “what will you do about your rough skin?” “why doesn’t school make you rich?” gets people curious when they see questions that are relevant to their needs. This will mean that you understand your audience, know their needs, and want to help them.

5. Don’t use salesy language

You don’t want to come off as some guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Salesy language and much formatting like using caps make your intentions, which should be hidden, so obvious. For one thing, no one likes to be sold to. 

Of course, you wouldn’t be out there sending mails if you had no intentions of wooing your readers by all means. Still, don’t let your desperation sing too loud. Rather, let your reader get the feeling that they need you more than you need them.

Moreover, emails that look like the description above stand a great risk of going straight into the spam folder of your recipient. Spam filters automatically discard your email if it doesn’t measure up to standard. They are designed such that they remove junk from your recipient’s inbox. To avoid this, use a service like SendPulse to check if your email looks spammy before sending. 

Another way to go around this will be to choose your words carefully. Avoid salesy expressions like “once in a lifetime opportunity,” “cheap,” “superior quality,” “price,” and “cost.” They’re offputting and irritating.

6. Create a sense of humor

A humorous subject line will get you more clicks than you can imagine. When you make people laugh, they loosen up, and most times, they just want to go on listening to you. 

Email Subject Lines: How to Write Subject Lines People Want to Click

You probably don’t know that people assess brands based on emotion rather than information. Making your readers smile or laugh is the best impression you could leave on them. Making them laugh makes you more relatable and human. So get creative with your joking skill and hit that sugary spot for your readers.

“When a brand shows that it doesn’t always take itself too seriously, it’s a powerful way to demonstrate authenticity and confidence as well as connect with your community.” – Tim Washer

7. Make irresistible offers

This is one of the things you can do to drive more people crazy about your brand. Just make sure you’re being sincere and will keep to your promises. 

Everybody is stirred up by an effortless reward. Either free or discounted motivation steps in when there’s clearly something to gain.

8. Use a familiar sender name

Being as relatable as possible increases your chances of getting more clicks. Using a familiar sender name like [email protected] in your email subject line makes you less formal and more friendly. 

It’s important that your approach is cordial because people are already very busy with serious matters in their lives. They will give you their time only when you are easing their tension and not the other way round. Using a familiar name makes you appear real and easy to talk to.

Even if you are sending emails on behalf of a company you work for, you don’t have to be too formal. If you have met the recipient from a previous conversation, you can use your name instead of the company’s name. You want to make your recipient feel comfortable and open, so give them the impression that they are communicating with you as an individual and not your entire company.

9. Make your recipient feel special

Making people feel special has a huge effect on their response rate. Using expressions that show regard and value for people goes a long way to boost their self-esteem and also get them trusting and opening up to you. When putting together your email subject line, use expressions like:

  • Valued customer
  • Special offer for you
  • A gift for you

10. Don’t use a question mark and exclamation sign in the same subject line

When spam filters see email titles like “You need help? Call now!” be sure that your email will end up in just one place: the spam folder. The combination of these two is what ruins the game. The disqualification effect is influenced by the PLING_QUERY rule. The PLING_QUERY rule is a directive by the Apache webserver that rules out an email as spam if it contains both a question mark and exclamation in the subject line.

11. Make your preview text engaging

Your preview text is the line of text that accompanies your email subject line. It gives your reader a glimpse into the content inside your email. An engaging preview text can do a lot. Beyond the subject, your preview text is the opportunity you have to woo your reader even more. 

Email Subject Lines: How to Write Subject Lines People Want to Click

Make sure to always include the preview text else, your email client will automatically pull out content from the body of your email to use as a preview text. And sure, that can make a real mess of your work, plus you would be wasting a well-served opportunity to sell yourself.

12. A/B test your email subject lines

A/B test is done to find out what works best for your specific audience. It’s easy to make wild guesses and suggestions on what will work for you but an A/B test will be a better and more scientific approach. 

An A/B test will help you decide if you will go with a long or short subject line. If your subject line will include numbers or not. Whether it will be a question or statement. This will all depend on what will trigger a greater response from your audience. This is a guide for an A/B testing checklist.

Other tips to get your Email marketing game on point

Don’t use the “no reply” sender name

Most people just ignore such emails because they are robotic. Using “[email protected]” is a no-no if you want your recipient to add you to their address book. Also, don’t use generic emails; send them from a real person as it also makes you relatable and human. 

Consider the time and season

Imagine sending an email to your readers telling them there is available stock of winter jackets when it’s still summer. This is clearly wrong timing. You need to understand that the time of the year, the month of the year, week, and even day make a whole difference in determining the needs of people. People’s needs, expectations, and plans fluctuate with these variables. 

This is why knowing your audience is so important.  

On the other hand, it’s reasonable to send emails advertising some hangout or even notifying your customers that there’s new stock of wine on a day like Friday. The argument will be since Friday is the start of the weekend, most people will want to go out and have fun in a nice place or still sit home and rewind with a nice bottle of wine.

Know your recipient’s schedule

This is still in line with time. Knowing the activities of your recipient can be of great help to you. If your emails are channeled to moms, then expect the mornings to be busy for the obvious reason. Preparing kids for school could be a morning distraction, so sending your emails in the afternoon hours may be a better idea.

Ready to Start Writing Email Subject Lines People Want to Click?

Every time you sit to write your email subject line, put yourself in your subscriber or recipient’s shoes. Just like you get dozens of emails in your inbox that do not call your name loud enough, the same way your email will get ignored if your email subject line doesn’t do well to add an extra factor. 

So be your own judge, be your first A/B test. It is very possible to break through, having people love and read your emails every time. That’ll only happen if you learn and implement the tips in this article. If you get it right, you will be very close to scoring the goal in your email marketing career.

Before you go…

For sticking around till the end, I have something for.

Getting your email subject lines right can be, no doubt, a daunting task. Yet, your subject line has got to shine. 

To help you get a sense of exactly what that means in today’s modern and messy inbox, I’m giving you this e-book from HubSpot for free. This e-book will help spark some fresh, new ideas for your next subject line.

Click below to download your Free “100 Email Subject Lines We Actually Clicked” Ebook from HubSpot:

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