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Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Email Marketing

How many unread emails do you have in your inbox? 

Be honest. Is it 100? 500? Or maybe if you’re like some of us, over 1000?! 

You may have even more than that in your email inbox. We all get loads of emails each and every day (105 billion emails sent each day!) Many don’t get opened because, honestly, it would probably take years to read all of the emails that land in your inbox. 

So, we can all agree that your email subject line has to be spot on for someone to open your emails. It’s one of the many metrics we consistently watch and try to improve. After all, if your subscribers aren’t opening your email, they can’t learn about things like:

  • Your product
  • Your service
  • Your blog post
  • Your favorite beer

…and so on.

In this post, we will show you tricks we use to increase our email open rate.


Start With a Subject Line

Did you know that 47% of your email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone? This fact clearly indicates that the email subject line can make or break your email campaigns. However, add to the mix this fact: 69% of email users will report emails as spam, solely based on the subject line.

In short, the subject line is significant! Therefore, to be a good marketer for your business, you need to know how to write a good email subject line. It’s the first impression of your recipients. The subject line may be more important than the body of your email, and frankly, can make or break your email campaigns. 

 The best way to approach writing a subject line that begs to be opened is to tap into simple human psychology. 

Be Mysterious 

Most everyone can spot clickbait when they see it, but you can still use natural curiosity to entice your subscriber to open your email. A subject line like “she adds this to her coffee, and I’m drooling” works because your reader can’t help but want to know what “this” is that she is adding to her coffee! They imagine the possibilities and have to find out, so they open. 

Here are some creative examples of ambiguous subject lines that get your readers clicking:

GrubHub: “Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About”

Refinery29: “10 bizarre money habits making Millennials richer”

Eat This Not That: “9 Disgusting Facts about Thanksgiving”


Use Numbers

Did you know that using numbers increases clickthrough rates by 206%? That’s huge! Email subject lines like:

  • 7 Hidden Benefits of Waking Up Before the Sun
  • 3 Unlikely Ways to Close the Sale
  • 5 Social Media Platforms You Shouldn’t Be Ignoring

Besides, a recent study of millions of emails suggested that email open rates are higher with a number in the subject line because numbers also appeal to the human condition. People are curious and simply must know if they have already used those three ways to close the sale or if they are currently using the five social media profiles that they shouldn’t be ignoring. 


Use Power Words

Just as with all writing, choosing power words is an effective strategy. People connect to emotion, not just words. When you use just the right power words in your subject line, they will trigger an emotional response that will get any reader to click “open” faster than you can say, “you’ve got mail!”. 

Imagine if you had these two subject lines in your inbox:

 “WordPress Makes Better Looking Websites for Non-Designers”


“Create a Stunning Website – Even If You’re Not a Designer”

While both subjects offer the same information, the second example is clearly more compelling. 

Some examples of power words include:











Address Pain Points

If you understand your buyer persona well, then you know what their most significant pain points are. You can get your subscriber to open your emails by addressing those problems and solving them in your email subject line.  

Here are a few examples of email subject lines that address pain points and offer a solution:


  1. Feed your family without needing a second mortgage.
  2. Since we all can’t be Jeff Bezos…
  3. Stop wasting your time on this ridiculous task.
  4. Wanted: Affordable skincare products 
  5. Your time management issues, solved.



Personalization is a powerful way to increase your open rates. People want to be known as individuals, not just part of the crowd. Personalized emails stand out in the inbox because:

  • The email is relevant to the subscriber.
  • Strengthen the relationship with your subscriber because you are sending the right content to the right person at the right time.
  • Personalized email subject lines generate an average of 50% higher open rates.

You can begin personalizing your emails by using tags within your email service provider (ESP) collected when your subscriber joins your list. Even something as simple as occasionally including your recipients’ first name within the email subject line will dramatically increase your open rates. 


Wrapping Up

While you can follow many other practices when crafting your email subject headings, these should get you started. Some additional tips you should keep in mind when creating your email subject lines are:

Test, test, test! Many ESP’s offer A/B testing. This is where you can split your list, sending one subject line to one group of subscribers, and another subject line to the second half. The software will report which subject line did better, and you can take what you learned and apply it to the following email.

Try out new things. Play with emojis or other fun tactics when sending out your emails. You’ll begin to learn what works with your audience.

Alliteration. Catchy email subject lines are always popular!

Be aware of CAPS. Filing your subject line WITH ALL CAPS will not help your case, and in fact, may end you in the spam folder.

Optimize your email for mobile. Most people are opening emails on mobile. It continues to be the preferred way that people consume their email.

We want to reiterate that knowing your audience is the best bet for creating an excellent email subject line. Having a solid grasp of your buyer persona(s) will help you match your audience’s interests with your emails. 

Are you still confused about where to take your emails? Contact the team at GreenCup Digital about our Email Marketing Services, and let us help you!

About the Author

Anne DiVitto

Anne loves music, so she makes your social media sing. She builds brand awareness with fun, informative content. Anne once skied in Patagonia, swam with dolphins in Mexico, and if given the chance she would have been a rockstar.
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