How To Write WAY Better Email Subject Lines (With 57 Examples)

Are your open rates lower than a lying politician’s approval rating? Chances are your subject lines suck! But don’t delete your Mailchimp/ActiveCampaign/Keap/Klaviyo account just yet.

These quick tips will boost your open rates faster than Mark McGowan’s COVID response boosted his popularity (that’s a lot, for any non-Australians out there).

Just Quickly… Why Are Email Subject Lines Important?

Subject lines are kinda like the gatekeepers of your emails. They’re the first thing people see, and they can make or break whether someone actually opens your email.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s for a campaign or automation, a boring or vague subject line means your email will be ignored, or worse – end up in the virtual trash bin before it’s ever opened. Either way, your email certainly won’t get read… which means it won’t make your business any money either!

You want your subject lines to be attention-grabbing and intriguing, like a juicy headline on a magazine. They need to spark curiosity, convey the essence of your email, and entice your readers to click. If you’re not nailing your subject lines, it’s like having a killer party but forgetting to send out invitations. You’re missing out on a chance to connect, engage, and share your message!

12 Tips To Write Subject Lines That Increase Your Open Rates

1. Get Personal

People love to see their name in lights… or at least, in their inbox. Addressing your recipient by their first name in the subject line can make the email feel personal. After all, who can resist opening an email that seems like it was written exclusively for them?

Most email service providers allow you to collect your subscribers’ names and use them in your emails. But there are other details you can collect to make the email more personal. For example, if you’re a pet brand, you can ask for your subscriber’s pet name when they opt in, then use that in the subject line instead! Few people could ignore a subject line that says “Lucky is gonna love these dog treats!”

If you don’t have specific information about your subscribers, you can still get personal by calling out things they have in common. For example, if you’re sending out property investment tips to people who are looking to buy real estate, you can say something like “These suburbs are set to explode in 2024.” It still ticks the personal box because it’s specific to the person you’re sending it to.

Personal subject line examples:

  • This t-shirt would look epic on you, [First Name]!
  • Time for a refill, [First Name]?
  • This is for all the lazy buggers out there
  • Anyone who wants to buy property needs this

2. Arouse Curiosity

Curiosity is a sure-fire way to increase your open rates. Write something that drives intrigue and teases what’s inside, without giving it away. This creates what’s known as an open loop in copywriting.

Open loops are when you leave an unresolved question or tension in the reader’s mind. You might start a story but stop halfway through, ask a question but not immediately answer it, or promise to reveal something later on. This creates a psychological need in the reader’s mind to continue reading so they can get closure and find out what on earth you’re talking about.

If you use open loops and curiosity in your subject lines, people will want to know what’s inside your email. Of course, this only works if you actually close the loop inside the email – otherwise, people will become frustrated and over time they’ll stop opening.

Curiosity subject line examples:

  • That time I met Hugh Jackman
  • Can’t believe this happened to me
  • Here’s what I really think of you, [First Name]
  • The surprising truth about a vegan diet
  • Fat Elvis leaves a lesson for us all
Elvis with a microphone singing to a group of people.

3. Build A Sense Of Urgency

Are you more likely to open an urgent email… or one that can wait until later? Urgency makes more people click and read, so adding some to your subject line should increase your open rates.

I’m not suggesting you add the word URGENT in all caps… because that seems very spammy and a lot of people will ignore it. But there are other ways to create a sense of urgency instead, like using a time limit or a cut-off date for whatever is inside your email. Just remember, if you use urgency too often, it may lose its impact!

Urgency subject line examples:

  • Our storewide sale ends tomorrow at midnight
  • It’s here, it’s life-changing – but it won’t last
  • This might interest you… and it’s happening today!
  • Seats for our webinar are almost gone
  • Last time you can get this

4. Incorporate Numbers

Stats show that including a number in your subject line can increase open rates by 57%. That’s because numbers have a unique power to grab attention and promise specific benefits.

People love lists, statistics, and quantifiable results. When you incorporate numbers into your subject lines, it provides a clear and concise idea of what the email contains.

Number subject line examples:

  • 5 proven ways to boost social media engagement
  • 3 new diets you should try this Summer
  • How to save 50% off our best-selling dresses
  • 9 quick and easy recipes for Christmas lunch
  • Only 24 hours left until our sale ends

5. Use Informal Language

Whose emails are you more likely to read? Emails from your best friend at work… or those from a million-dollar corporation? Obviously the first one!

You’re more likely to open something that’s been written by someone close to you. And would that person write a super formal subject line like, “Excuse me, Jonathan, can you please direct your attention to this matter?” Heck no! Instead, they’d say something like, “Lol Jonny check this out.”

Informal language can be a great way to boost your open rates… But remember, don’t overdo it to a point where it seems unnatural, or out of character for your brand. Otherwise, you’ll end up coming off as fake and start to tick your subscribers off.

Informal subject line examples:

  • Got something you might like
  • You won’t believe this
  • New email, who dis?
  • Check this out, [First Name]
  • Too soon?

6. Create A Little Controversy

In email marketing, controversial subject lines can be incredibly effective. Controversy stirs the pot, and people are drawn to the drama. Just like those sensational tabloids at the supermarket checkout, controversial subject lines can pique interest and encourage clicks.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to take an offensive stance on something – but simply touching on an issue people are talking about will get attention. A useful tip is to think of controversial topics in your industry, or controversial celebrities in the news, and incorporate them into your emails.

Controversial subject line examples:

  • Proof Donald Trump is on the Paleo diet
  • Gordon Ramsey would hate this recipe, but I love it
  • Why I’d die before investing in ETFs
  • Controversial? Absolutely… but it works
  • ClickFunnels sucks (use this instead)
Donald Trump and a fake news sign.

7. Keep Things Short

Studies suggest that 49% of all emails are opened on mobile. But in my experience, that number is even higher! So you have to factor this in when writing your emails.

Mobile phones truncate subject lines a LOT. In fact, iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones show less than 40 characters per subject line in portrait mode. It’s OK if your subject line is cut off from time to time, but you don’t want it happening on a regular basis. So keep them short where possible (no more than 9 words or 60 characters) and you should be fine!

Short subject line examples:

  • Last chance for 10% off
  • Click Frenzy starts now
  • Why negative gearing sucks
  • Best multi-vitamin in Australia?
  • We got you, [First Name]

8. Tell Stories

As humans, we love a good story. It’s been proven by science. So incorporating stories into your subject line can be a fantastic way to boost your open rates.

Think about it – if your friend says, “I’ve got a crazy story for you,” you want to hear what happens next, right? Same with subject lines! Use a story opener or a catchy hook and people will open your email faster than a gift on Christmas morning.

Story subject line examples:

  • An awkward encounter with a Tesla driver
  • That time I went to Ron’s Steakhouse
  • The day I knew I’d made it as an email copywriter
  • I flew first class and it changed me
  • Funny story, [First Name]

9. Be Clear And Congruent

It’s important to be creative when writing subject lines. However, the subject line should be a teaser, not a trick. So make sure your subject line accurately reflects the content of your email. Clarity and congruency will often outperform clickbaity subject lines.

Being clear and congruent also builds trust with your subscribers. People open emails expecting what the subject line promises, so delivering on that promise is crucial for a positive subscriber experience. Plus, if your subject line doesn’t actually reflect what’s inside, you’ll get the wrong people opening it – those who have no interest in clicking the link.

Clear subject line examples:

  • Here’s the downloadable eBook you requested, [First Name]
  • You left this in your shopping cart
  • Here are my top tips for property investing
  • Why choco-bits are our most popular cereal

10. Make Your Emails Appear Valuable

The average office worker receives 40 emails per day. In a cluttered inbox, a valuable email stands out like a diamond in the rough. People are more likely to read it and less likely to toss it in the trash.

If you can imply in your subject that value lies inside the email, do it. Use language that suggests your subscribers are about to discover something valuable or gain a significant benefit, making them more likely to open it.

Value subject line examples:

  • A game-changing piece of advice for Shopify store owners
  • This simple change could add 6 figures to your business
  • Writing secrets from a NY Times best-selling author
  • Our most valuable property investing secret yet

11. Ask Questions

Asking a question in your subject line can be an invitation for engagement. People naturally want to answer questions or express their opinions about subjects.

Crafting subject lines with questions that recipients want to answer or say “yes” to can also increase open rates. It’s like starting a conversation before they even open the email!

Question subject line examples:

  • Did you see this, [First Name]?
  • Do you like nachos? Then you’re gonna love this…
  • Can I count on you?
  • Why do so many people love [Product]?
  • Is this true? Because if it is…

12. Add Emojis

A woman reading an email on her phone, with emojis floating through the air.

Think about the messages you send to your family or friends. Chances are, they’re sprinkled with emojis, right? Emojis add a touch of personality and emotion to your messages, making them more relatable and engaging. Well, the same principle can apply to your email subject lines.

When you use emojis in your subject lines, you’re injecting a bit of fun and familiarity into your emails. Emojis can convey emotions, catch the eye, and even summarise the tone or content of your email. They’re like the punctuation of the digital world, and they can help your subject lines stand out in a crowded inbox.

Just remember – don’t overdo it. Too many emojis look super spammy. Ensure the emojis you choose are relevant to the email’s content and your brand’s personality.

Emoji subject line examples:

  • This is a MUST if you love pasta 🍝
  • Hands up if you’re excited about our new product 🙋‍♂️
  • 🚀 Our top crypto recommendation for December
  • Only cool kids wear these 😎
  • Your 🐕 will love this 🛏 more than a 🦴

Bonus Tip

Using the above strategies will help you write far more click-worthy subject lines and boost your open rates in no time. A good idea is to start using a single tip in each email, then work your way to combining multiple. When you’re writing subject lines that are short, personal, time-sensitive, have emojis, and are full of curiosity… that’s when you know you’ve reached peak email copywriter.

Once your subject lines are perfect, consider using other email copywriting techniques to boost your revenue, like adding a P.S. to your emails (here’s a guide that’ll help!). Of course, if you’d rather have someone else do it for you, you can always check out our email copywriting services. Otherwise, if you’re determined to go it alone, you might find our guide for e-Commerce email copywriting a helpful next step.