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Tips and techniques to write effective email marketing subject lines to increase open rates.

Hook your Readers with Attention-Grabbing Headlines

Updated June 25, 2020

As many as 47% of email subscribers base their decision on whether to open an email solely on the subject line.  So, to capture the attention of up to half your subscriber base, it’s crucial to write a compelling subject line on every email you send. If you don’t get that right, your customers will hit delete faster than you can say, “did you get my email?”

For our clients across the architecture, design, construction, real estate and professional services industries, email marketing is more crucial than ever. With that in mind, here are 5 techniques we recommend to write attention-grabbing subject lines. Give them a try on your next campaign!


1. Be Irresistible

Everybody loves a bargain. Or even better, something for nothing. Discounts and special offers drive up your open rates because, in the nicest way possible, these offers appeal to the slightly greedy side of our nature. Whether it’s a complimentary offer for a consultation, a discount on a service, or even some free downloadable real estate tips, you can be sure your customer will want to hit open to claim it.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity
Free children’s dental consultation
Your complimentary e-book

2. Create Urgency or FOMO

We’ve all experienced the dreaded fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s almost impossible to resist this feeling, and it’s a powerful way to augment your open rates. You can do this through a variety of techniques, such as time-sensitive words, expiry timelines on points or offers, or mention other people your business is already helping.

This week only – 10% off your first service
Renovate your kitchen by spring
Your offer expires in 3 days


3. Ask a Question

A simple yet effective strategy is to ask a question. In doing so, you show your audience that you are interested in a two-way conversation let alone intriguing them. This will entice them to not only open your email but to invite them to engage with you to help build trust and communicate two-way interest. By simply asking a question or promising something enticing in the subject line, your subscribers will be compelled to seek the answer.

The secret way to motivate your kids to brush
Heard about our new technology?
Inventory’s low, but buyers still have hope
A quick question?
Uncertainty has your clients waiting on the sidelines?


4. Use Storytelling

When you’re emailing subscribers on a regular basis, it’s essential to give them a reason to click open, every single time. Otherwise, you risk ‘email fatigue’ – where your customers get bored and simply delete your emails. To fight that fatigue, get a little creative and employ a storytelling approach in your subject line.

→ Use humor – If the subject line makes your target laugh, they’ll be more inclined to open the email.
→ Be quirky – Catch your audience off-guard with something a little strange and out of the ordinary. They won’t be able to resist opening your email to find out what it all means.
→ Use emojis – Something as simple as adding an emoji can increase your open rates significantly. This may not work for every industry though and be sure to A/B test.

In fact, 56% of brands who use emojis in their subject lines have reported increased open rates.

We’re taking a bite out of sports injuries
Not your grandmother’s mouthguard
Your next first impression matters


5. Make it Personal

According to an analysis by Experian, email subject lines that include the recipient’s name boost open rates by 29% across a variety of industries. Including your recipient’s name creates an immediate personal connection between the recipient and your brand, making them feel valued. You can also add relevance by including locations or using more personal, familiar language.

Unique investment opportunity for John

Sarah, booked your next appointment?
Latest Seattle real estate trends


Last Tips and Tricks

Don’t neglect the pre-header – the text you see in your inbox immediately after the subject line. Use this to tease the email’s content and further entice your subscriber to open.

Keep it short and sweet – a good subject line should be around 40 – 50 characters or up to 9 words so it can be read on mobile, or else it gets truncated.

Always ensure that the email content delivers on what the subject line hints at or promises. Don’t make false statements just to get people to open – you’ll see your click-through rates plummet.

Avoid the use all CAPS or exclamation points – these can trigger spam filters. And besides, 85% of people say they prefer lower case.

Lastly, segment your audience lists. Cater your emails for each audience to improve your open rates.

Would you like some help crafting more compelling emails and subject lines? Or even a little feedback on your previous ones? Challenge us or reach out for a free consultation.

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