Increase Email Open Rates with Catchy Email Subject Lines & 19 Proven TIPS to Get Your Emails Opened

In order to make your subscribers open your emails and read your message, we have some TIPS for you. After reading this article, you won’t have difficulties in creating stunning subject lines that your audience cannot resist anymore. We hope it’ll be helpful for you to increase your email open rates.

ıncrease email open rates with catchy subject lines youtube video of popupsmart's channel image

Let’s talk about the importance of email subject lines in order to increase email open rates but before diving into this subject, let’s start by conceptualizing this term.

Imagine that, you have a business and you’ve just started to send emails to build and grow an email list. We all know that sending emails is not enough to build an efficient list. 35% of people open emails based solely on the subject line. Furthermore, 69% of people mark messages as spam based on the subject line.

You may promote your products or services. However, you have to come up with strong emails that will actually be opened by your customers. Otherwise, it’s meaningless.

“47% of marketers say that “test different email subject lines to optimize their emails’ performance“. So in order to decide which subject line is much more creative, compelling, interest-provoking and informative, you need to think about it! 

What Makes A Good Subject Line?

Short, clear, specific, simple, logical and personalized subject lines work better. It is because if you want to make people open your email campaign, you need to focus on natural human tendencies and psychological methods.

Wait a sec! Not that easy right? 

You need to customize your own use, summarize your great content with a few words and make it interesting. 

MailChimp conducted an email subject line study and found out that the short and descriptive subject lines consisting of visual pizzazz with a little humor convert better.

Take a deep breath! We’re starting… 

19 TIPS to Write Catchy Email Subject Lines

TIP 1: Trigger Call to Action

Loading the subject line with action-oriented verbs, in the beginning, can drastically benefit open and email click-through rates. And, you can create much more attractive subject lines by using action verbs.

These short instructions work well in email subject lines, where you have limited space to convince subscribers to open your email.

“Shop now” is a call to action, for example, and so is “Find out what’s inside”.

call-to-action-example

What is a call-to-action?

TIP 2: Keep It Short

You should not scare people by using more than 50 characters in your subject lines. Keep the details in your message and summarize your keywords with a literature language in your email subject line.

You definitely should not be using sales language, but try to reflect your brand with simplicity. Otherwise, you might be considered as spam and your efforts may go down the drain.

Banana Republic Subject Line Example

Studies show 55% of emails get opened on a mobile device. Take this into consideration when you’re crafting a subject line. While it may look good on your computer, it may look different on a smaller screen.

Here’s an example to show you what I’m talking about:

Mobile Responsive Email Subject Line Example

While most businesses realize that their emails need to be optimized for mobile devices, they forget about the subject lines. Overall, if your subject line is short, you’ll get higher open rates.

email-open-rates-by-subject-line-length

TIP 3: Create a Sense of Urgency and Scarcity

As Jim Rohn said, Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.

In order to have a compelling subject line, you should trigger your customers with an immediate call to action. Try to make them think what if they don’t act fast, or what if the product with limited availability runs out, intuitively.

Subject lines that include words that imply time sensitivity–like “urgent”, “breaking”, “important” or “alert”–are proven to increase email open rates.

time-sensitivity-subject-line-urgency

A limited-time offer is any kind of discount, deal, special gift, or reward a buyer can get if they make a purchase from you during a certain time period. Consumers have a burning desire to jump on the exclusive deals and get their hands on something special before they miss out.

You can also make them feel like sharing something special to increase audience engagement when you offer an exclusive deal for a limited time period. For example,

‘’Don’t tell anyone. Special discounts are just for you!’’

TIP 4: Be Funny

If your subject line makes your subscribers smile, then they’ll have the tendency to open it. Being humorous requires a bit more thought and creativity, but it can really pay off in terms of your open rates and increased sales.

Be funny like Urban Decay

TIP 5: Generate Curiosity

Conveying a message with a little mystery is always a good idea. You should implicate the benefit from opening that particular email. By doing that, you promise to give useful information that they can get. After providing that you’ll see the increase in your conversion rates. However, be careful not to have too obscured subject lines. Otherwise, you may be considered as spam.

dont-open-this-email-generate-curiosity-subject-line

Questions trigger answers. Try to provoke opens and replies by using question-asking subject lines. You can also refer to your customer’s name to be more specific and interesting.

You can make your subscribers curious by asking a question, promising something attractive, or simply saying something sounding strange or unusual.

Free Big Mac Email Subject Line Example

TIP 6: Make Them Feel Special by Personalization

According to a study by Experian Marketing Services, email subject lines that were personalized by including the subscriber’s name boosted open rates by 29.3% on average across all industries.

Open Rates of Personalized Subject Lines

When we first open our inbox folder, we all tend to scan the subject lines of the emails and eliminate the promotional ones or spams. If you feel like you get an email from a friend, you will probably open it. Of course, you should consider the context of your business. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur you may want to get in touch with your crew one-on-one. You can increase your email open rates with this strategy.

People like to see offers for themselves. If you compare a personalized and specific email subject with a general one; the first one wins!

You also may use casual language, share something personal, imply familiarity or friendship in order to raise the closeness of your relationship with the audience.

Try to learn something special about your subscribers such as their interests, jobs or preferences. Make your emails catered toward the individual.

Witchery Personalized Subject Line Example

Don’t forget, if you make your subscribers feel special and niche, they are more likely to become your loyal fans, loyal customers and followers, which is the main goal of all marketing efforts.

TIP 7: Write a Familiar Sender Name

Set your sender name appropriately. It’s important to build trust with your subscribers. 

amelia@popupsmart.com is a good example of an inviting sender name. Isn’t it? 🙂 

Also, avoid the ‘no-reply’ sender name. People may consider you as spam. In order to prevent that never use something like that: ”noreply@company.com.”

Familiar Name Subject Line Example: Hobbs

TIP 8: Use Relevant Emojis

According to a report by Experian, using emojis in your subject lines can increase your open rates by 45%.

A well-placed emoji can be great for building a close relationship with your subscribers. Note that the email subject lines with emojis do beat out the plain text ones!

Here are the top 15 emojis by subject line appearances.

Top 15 Emojis by Subject Lines

These aren’t necessarily the “best” ones to use– they’re just the most popular ones. You can use your creativity with different emojis and different emoji combinations for your own email subject lines.

Your emoji usage must be relevant to the content of both your email and your email subject line. Otherwise, it would seem insignificant. For example, the emojis in “Pizza party this Saturday! 🍕🎉” help clarify what your email is actually about. On the other hand, the emojis in “Springfield Elementary PTA Newsletter 🍕🎉” seems out of place and confusing since they have nothing to do with the subject line.

TIP 9: Use Controversial Subject Lines

If you’re confident in knowing your audience’s interests and perceptions you may use controversial subject lines in order to grab their attention. However, you should be very careful. If you have just built your email list and not sure about your subscribers taste yet, things can take a turn for the worse. Take time to understand your subscriber’s nature and then (if your business context is suitable) use shock, insult or controversy in your subject lines.  For example;

  • Everyone Is Gay: Social Media As Social Action

  • Why Your 5-Year-Old Is More Digital Than Most CMOs

  • Your Marketing Sucks: Why You Need to Think Local

Conroversial Subject Line Example: Tim Ferriss

When executed strategically, a controversial subject line can be unique, intriguing, and unexpected. A controversial subject line can be a negative idea or outcome in your niche target, or one of your audience’s major pain points. This gets your subscribers curious and increases your open rate.

TIP 10: Use Numbers and Lists

If you’ have been following our blog, we always emphasize the importance of ‘’Numbers’’. 

In a study conducted by Christopher Packham in MedicalXpress, ‘’Numerosity as a primary visual property can be formally described in terms of topological invariants.’’

So, if you add numbers into your subject line, you grab your subscribers’ attention, as our brains are naturally curious to numbers. Also, that kind of subject lines is always easy and quick to read.

Additionally, creating a subject line with the initial of a number or a percentage may be very effective. When it comes to offers, the discount price should always be front-loaded. To exemplify, write “50% Off Flash Sale” rather than “Flash Sale: 50% Off”.

By using numbers in your subject line, you don’t just grab the attention of them, but also you create a perception that your content is unique. 

Use Numbers in Your Subject Line: Topshop Example

TIP 11: Don’t Yell at People with Your Subject Line

A lot of companies still send emails with a subject line like;

“OPEN NOW AND GET 80% DISCOUNT!!!!!”

Unfortunately, it’s not working. It’s actually distasteful…

No one likes to be yelled at and that kind of subject lines make people rub the wrong way… You should always use an engaging and human-like language to make people comfortable and get their attention. 

Writing your email subject line with using upper-case letters seem like you are commanding, yelling at, or desperately seeking attention. Also, the first letter of each word should be capitalized, and the others should be lower-case.

Be careful about capitalizing your email subject line, you will be perceived as careless or offensive.

Capital Letters in Subject Lines

TIP 12: Be Relevant and Make a Schedule

The main reason for people to subscribe to an email list is that they want to be kept informed about a given topic, product or offers. Therefore, subdividing your audience into groups will help you to send the right topics to the right people. Otherwise, people unsubscribe from your list due to receiving many unwanted and irrelevant messages. This is why you should never purchase an email list from another company to have a customer base.

If you have any problems with segmenting your customers, by offering opt-in segments on your email subscriber form, you can categorize subscribers based on what interests them.

You should use timely headlines or compelling trending topics to grab your subscribers’ attention. Moreover, you need to make a wise schedule to send your emails. No one wants to get an email from you 3 times a day. Have a weekly and monthly plan to make your subscribers your loyal fans. 

So when is a good time? Good email times to send are typically daytime hours. For example, if you want to take advantage of an alert person who will likely get a new email notification. This isn’t likely to happen at 3 am.

The best play here is to extract your subscribers’ location data and figure out what their waking hours are. 

TIP 13: Keep Your Word

Google is a data-driven beast, not just in its search algorithm, but also in its email algorithm. If you come up with deceitful email subject lines, your initial open rates may rise, but eventually, your emails will be cast into the spam folder. It is because Google collects complaint data from your subscribers and if you try to lie to your subscribers, they are sure to complain. If they complain, the risk of being flagged as spam increases, which we never want in email marketing.

Use accurate subject lines. Be sure that your subject line can be both curious and enticing without being deceitful.

Don’t make false promises to get your email opened. This is not good for your reputation and trustworthiness. Always, be honest. Otherwise, results will not good for you, if you don’t make good on your commitments. 

Don't Make False Promises in Your Subject Lines

TIP 14: Ask Your Subscribers’ Hopes and Wants

If you want to build an emotional contact with your subscribers better asking for their intentions. You may ask them or their business to conceptualize themselves in future. You may ask some questions about how their life could be better or how they reach their business goals in the next 6 months. People like daydreaming about the future. You can trigger your email open rate with appropriate and emotional subject lines. 

You can also conduct surveys through emails so that you have a high-quality data of your customers’ wants and needs. Additionally, it increases subscriber engagement with your email campaign.

There is no good approach than ideas coming from your customers who will consume your marketing efforts.

Feedback Emails for Subscriber Engagement

TIP 15: Impress with The If-Then Subject Line

You may offer something useful to your subscribers by using if-then subject lines. The human brain is highly receptive to conditional expressions. You should offer something based on your segmented subscribers’ needs and offer the solution.

The key with an effective “if-then” statement is to make sure the “if” part is true for your audience and “then” part creates a solution by purchasing your products or services offered.

“if-then” statements are* *extremely effective triggers for behavior change and habit formation.*

If-then subject line example

TIP 16: Use “You Can” Subject Line

You have to get know better your subscribers in terms of their interest, their accomplishes and failures. Helping them reach their goal through your offerings and providing what they need in order to improve their skills increase your email open rates. Sounds simple, right?

Once you know your audience, use your knowledge about them to craft a subject line that commands they might be doing it wrong, or fitting in with the “status quo”. Then, create your email subject lines based on these characteristics of your segmented people.

Humans tend to think they’re above average at most things, which is called Superiority Illusion. So, you should give a sense that you support your subscribers on what they want to achieve.

TIP 17: Don’t Miss Occasions

Occasional subject lines make people smile, arouse curiosity, and most importantly, most of them will click on the e-mail because they are usually in a good mood in those days. So, benefit from it! Remind yourself with a kind, friendly, passionate, and caring approach. 

A Gluten Free: Occasion Subject Line

Starbucks: Occasion Subject Line

TIP 18: Retarget Your Unsubscribers

Retargeting emails are sent to subscribers when they fail to complete an action (e.g. when they abandon their cart or fail to purchase after their free trial) or unsubscribe themselves from your list.

You can write effective retargeting subject lines by overcoming objections, offering something to sweeten the deal, or saying that you have corrected your mistake.

You also can create an email marketing campaign by using the method of Win-Back for customer retention.

Retarget Your Customers: Vizio Example

TIP 19: A/B Test Your Subject Lines

In order to figure out which subject lines best for your audience, you should definitely A/B test your emails. Be patience. It may take time to understand the proper style of subject lines for your visitors. In this case, A/B testing is an essential point for your email marketing benefits.

It’s important to decide on what you consider success before you run an A/B test. Look at your historical open rate, and then decide how much improvement you want to see.

Most email campaign software has built-in tools for A/B testing. You can use Campaign Monitor, MailChimp or Active Campaign to run A/B testing. If your email campaign software doesn’t have specific support for A/B campaigns, you can set one up manually.

A/B Testing Campaign

101 Example Email Subject Lines That Subscribers Cannot Resist

[Source]

Fear;

  1. Warby Parker: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”
  2. JetBlue: “You’re missing out on points.”
  3. Digital Marketer: “[URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to watch this…”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…”
  5. Digital Marketer: “[WEEKEND ONLY] Get this NOW before it’s gone…”
  6. Jersey Mike’s Subs: “Mary, Earn double points today only”
  7. Guess: “Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream”

Curiosity;

  1. Manicube: “*Don’t Open This Email*”
  2. Grubhub: “Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About”
  3. Refinery29: “10 bizarre money habits making Millennials richer”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Check out my new “man cave” [PICS]”
  5. Digital Marketer: “Is this the hottest career in marketing?”
  6. Thrillist: “What They Eat In Prison”
  7. Eat This Not That: “9 Disgusting Facts about Thanksgiving”
  8. Chubbies: “Hologram Shorts?!”
  9. The Hustle: “A faster donkey”
  10. Mary Fernandez: “? a surprise gift for you! {unwrap}”

Funny;

  1. Eater Boston: “Where to Drink Beer Right Now” (Sent at 6:45 am on a Wednesday.)
  2. OpenTable: “Licking your phone never tasted so good”
  3. Groupon: “Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”
  4. The Muse: “We Like Being Used”
  5. Warby Parker: “Pairs nicely with spreadsheets”
  6. UncommonGoods: “As You Wish” (This is a reference to the movie The Princess Bride.)
  7. Travelocity: “Need a day at the beach? Just scratch n’ sniff your way to paradise…”
  8. TicTail: “Boom shakalak! Let’s get started.”
  9. Thrillist: “Try To Avoid These 27 People On New Year’s Eve”
  10. Baby Bump: “Yes, I’m Pregnant. You Can Stop Staring At My Belly Now.”
  11. Gozengo: “NEW! Vacation on Mars”
  12. The Hustle: “Look what you did, you little jerk…” (This one is a hybrid curiosity/humor email. Here’s what it says when you open it.

Vanity;

  1. Guess: “Don’t wear last year’s styles.”
  2. Fabletics: “Your Butt Will Look Great in These Workout Pants”
  3. Jeremy Gitomer: “How Have You Progressed Since the Third Grade?”
  4. Rapha: “Gift inspiration for the discerning cyclist”
  5. La Mer: “Age-defying beauty tricks”
  6. Pop Physique: “Get Ready. Keep the Pie-Off Your Thighs Returns.”
  7. Rapha: “As worn in the World Tour”
  8. Sephora: “Products the celebs are wearing”

Greed;

  1. Topshop: “Meet your new jeans”
  2. Topshop: “Get a head start on summer”
  3. HP: “Flash. Sale. Alert.”
  4. HP: “New must-haves for your office”
  5. Seafolly: “A new product you won’t pass on”
  6. Guess: “25% off your favorites”
  7. Rip Curl: “Two for two”
  8. La Mer: “A little luxury at a great price”
  9. Rapha: “Complimentary gift wrap on all purchases”
  10. The Black Tux: “Get priority access.”

Sloth;

  1. Syed from OptinMonster: “✔ 63-Point Checklist for Creating the Ultimate Optin Form”
  2. Syed from OptinMonster: “Grow your email list 10X ⚡ faster with these 30 content upgrade ideas”
  3. Ramit Sethi: “How to email a busy person (including a word-for-word script)”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Steal these email templates…”
  5. Digital Marketer: “A Native Ad in 60 Minutes or Less”
  6. Digital Marketer: “212 blog post ideas”

Pain points;

  1. Pizza Hut: “Feed your guests without breaking the bank”
  2. IKEA: “Where do all these toys go?”
  3. IKEA: “Get more kitchen space with these easy fixes”
  4. HP: “Stop wasting money on ink”
  5. Sephora: “Your beauty issues, solved”
  6. Uber: “Since we can’t all win the lottery…”
  7. Thrillist: “How to Survive Your Next Overnight Flight”
  8. Guess: “Wanted: Cute and affordable fashions”
  9. Evernote: “Stop wasting time on mindless work”
  10. Duolingo: “Learn a language with only 5 minutes per day”

Retargeting;

  1. Nick Stephenson: “How you can afford Your First 10,000 Readers (closing tonight)”
  2. Bonobos: “Hey, forget something? Here’s 20% off.”
  3. Target: “The price dropped for something in your cart”
  4. Syed from Envira: “Mary, your Envira account is on hold!”
  5. Syed from Envira: “I’m deleting your Envira account”
  6. Ugmonk: “Offering you my personal email”
  7. Animoto: “Did you miss out on some of these new features?”
  8. Pinterest: “Good News: Your Pin’s price dropped!”
  9. Unroll.Me: “⚠ Unroll.Me has stopped working”
  10. Vivino: “We are not gonna Give Up on You!”

Personal;

  1. Guess: “Mary, check out these hand-picked looks”
  2. Rent the Runway: “Happy Birthday Mary – Surprise Inside!”
  3. Bonnie Fahy: “Mary, do you remember me?”
  4. Kimra Luna: “I didn’t see your name in the comments!?”
  5. John Lee Dumas: “Are you coming?”
  6. UrbanDaddy: “You’ve Changed”
  7. Influitive: “So I’ll pick you up at 7?”
  8. James Malinchak: “Crazy Invitation, I am Going to Buy You Lunch…”
  9. Brooklinen: “Vanilla or Chocolate?”
  10. Sam from The Hustle: “I love you”
  11. Ryan Levesque: “Seriously, Who Does This?”
  12. Jon Morrow: “Quick favor?”
  13. Mary Fernandez: “you free this Thurs at 12 PM PST? [guest blogging class]”
  14. Mary Fernandez: “? your detailed results…”
  15. Syed from OptinMonster: “300% increase in revenue with a single optin + a neat growth trick from my mastermind!”
  16. Revolution Tea: “Thanks for helping us”
  17. Harry’s: “Two razors for your friends (on us)”

Straightforward;

  1. Al Franken: “Yes, this is a fundraising email”
  2. AYR: “Best coat ever”
  3. Barack Obama: “Hey”

Subject lines performed the highest out of 40 million emails, with open rates between 60-87;

  1. “[Company Name] Sales & Marketing Newsletter”
  2. “Eye on the [Company Name] Update (Oct 31 – Nov 4)”
  3. “[Company Name] Staff Shirts & Photos”
  4. “[Company Name] May 2005 News Bulletin!”
  5. “[Company Name] Newsletter – February 2006”
  6. “[Company Name] and [Company Name] Invites You!”
  7. “Happy Holidays from [Company Name]”
  8. “Invitation from [Company Name]”

Effective Key Words

According to Alchemy Worx, which analyzed 21 billion emails sent by 2,500 brands, the top five most effective subject line keywords were:

“upgrade”
“just”
“content”
“go”
“wonderful”

In another study from Alchemy Worx, which analyzed 24.6 billion emails, the top subject line keywords for open rates were:

“jokes”
“promotional”
“congratulations” “revision”
“forecast”
“snapshot”
“token”
"voluntary”
“monthly” “deduction”

Based on Digital Marketer’s analysis of 125 million emails they sent in 2014, some top subject line keywords to try are:

“is coming”
“get this now” “you have one day left” [numbers] (e.g. “7-figure plan”, “212 ideas”, “60 minutes or less”)
[ellipse at the end] (e.g. “The Facebook Slap is coming…”, “Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…”, “Steal these email templates…”)

Adestra analyzed over 2.2 billion emails, and found the following top subject line keywords:

“free delivery” “available” “new” “alert" “news” “update” “summer” “weekend”

In another study from Adestra, which looked at over 125.000 email campaigns, the top performing subject line keywords were:

“thank you”
“Headline 1 | Headline 2 | Headline 3 | Headline 4” “monthly” “thanks” “bulletin” “golden”
“iPhone”
“breaking” “order today”

Finally, a report by Smart Insights looked at a random sample of 700 million emails, and found that the top performing subject line keywords were:

“introducing”
“celebrate”
“buy”
“continues”
“get your”
“what…?”
“won’t…?”
“do…?”
“can…?”
“may…?”
“on orders over”
“orders over”
“off selected”
“your next order”
“available”
“brand new”
“latest”
“special”
“wonderful”
“great deals”
“sale starts”
“back in stock”
“stock” “sale now” “now in”

Spam Trigger Words

In order not to trigger spam, we need to be very careful about what you write on your email subject line. It is also necessary to increase your open rate because people tend to predict email content by looking at the subject line. So, being creative and impressive is the fundamental requirement for success.

Here, some words that you should very carefully use while writing your messages;

“100%” “Cash bonus” “Click” “Discount”
“For only”
“Free”
“Limited”
“No interest”
“Offer expires”
“Purchase”
“Unlimited”
“Why pay more?”

To reach more

Of course, your emails go to spam just due to the words you have used. To learn why your emails may go to spam and what you can do to make sure they do not go anymore, click!

Wrap Up

Writing the best email subject line is one of the core elements of email marketing. We hope this article will help you implement catchy email subject lines in order to boost your email open rates.

There are more different ways which you can use to increase your open rate. To get more information about it, There are more different ways which you can use to increase your open rate. To get more information about it, click!

Moreover, it is important to reach subscribers' inbox folder. Go to our related article to learn how to avoid emails going to spam folder!

If you wish to learn more about email marketing, visit our email marketing page that guides you on the journey of initial steps to advanced steps of email marketing.

Also, don’t forget to visit Popupsmart blog* to reach many other useful guides and articles about email marketing.

19 Proven Tips to Get Your Emails Opened Infographic

19 proven tips to get your emails opened infographic

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