Becky the copywriter is standing in Istanbul's famous spice market. She is wearing a green skirt, black boots and a black jacket.

How to Write Good Email Subject Lines

You’re finally ready to press ‘send’ after spending all day crafting your email. You’ve written from the heart, and you’re confident that your content will add value to your subscribers’ lives the minute they click and open that email.

The problem is that the average person receives over 100 emails every day, so how do you get your email to stand out in a crowded inbox? The answer? It’s all in your subject line. In this blog, we’ll explore seven tips for writing good email subject lines for marketing your business.

Becky's Apple Macbook Air laptop on her desk. It has a pink flowery case and there is a blu and white spotty mug, some post-it notes and a pen on the desk too.

Your Email Subject line is the head-turning Outfit at the Party.

The first thing your subscribers read when they open their inbox is the email subject line, a single line of text right after the sender’s name (that’s you!). Subject lines often summarise what the email is about, or they might include a compact summary of the contents.

PSA: 📣 The primary function of email subject lines is to convince your audience to click ‘open’ and read your email! Your email subject line is:

-The sexy outfit that turns heads when you enter the party. 

-The spicy chat-up line with the cute guy/gal.

-The first impression when you enter the boardroom. 

You get my drift. Your email subject line is the GATEWAY through which your subscribers must enter to read your awesome email by clicking ‘open.’

Email subject lines are Intentionally Written Captivating Statements that Engage your Reader.

And without being spammy or full of clickbait (hint: any email subject line that promises cash, has the dollar sign or gazillion emojis in it, or tells you ‘Congratulations, Becky. You’ve won a prize. Open to claim now!’ counts as clickbait. Ew.)

Always remember that someone has trusted you enough to give you their email address, and clickbait will not only damage the trust of your subscribers, it can damage your reputation. (Speaking of junk mail, did you know that almost half of all emails end up in junk folders? Certain words trigger spam filters, so it’s worth keeping updated on these.)

A good email subject line will grab your reader’s attention and make them open your email. It will pique curiosity and promise value, and after opening, your recipient can engage and get the most out of your email, offer, or services. 

So, how do you strike that delicate balance between promise and personality?

Here are seven pointers to help you write good email subject lines.

1. Just tell ’em What’s Inside

We’re all busy, and I know I’m far more likely to open a newsletter if I know what I will find inside. No games, no tricks, just straightforward ‘What’s in the envelope?’

Your subscribers probably already have an overflowing inbox, so do them a favour and get to the point. Tell your recipients what they’re getting to build trust and save them energy.

Here are some examples:

  • Your free eBook on email marketing inside’
  • ‘My tips for overcoming imposter syndrome inside’
  • ‘Here’s your blog-writing checklist download.’

2. Write your Email Subject line in your Brand Voice

People sign up for your newsletter because they want to hear from YOU. You are the brand they want for expertise or services, so ensure your email subject line contains some of your special sauce. Your brand voice impacts how your audience receives your message and how they understand your vision and values.

So, if in real life, you would never actually SAY: ‘potent af’ or ‘yo, sup,’ then those words are not in your brand voice and so certainly don’t belong in your email subject line! 🤣 

Writing your email subject line in your authentic brand voice consistently will make people feel safe and familiar with you, and they’ll be far more likely to open that email.

3. Promise them Something, without Overpromising

Your newsletter should add value to your readers’ lives. How are you helping them or solving a problem for them? Whether you’re giving them advisory content, a free downloadable resource, or a personal story from your own life that they can learn from, tell them what you’re giving them in your email subject line.

The key is to highlight value here but not to exaggerate or overpromise. Keep your promises realistic enough for people to want them but not eye-rollingly unreachable. 

Here are some examples:

Instead of: ‘Never have a bad night’s sleep again,’ try: ‘A practical tip for a better night’s sleep,’ 

Instead of: ‘Go from couch potato to World’s Strongest Man in a month.’ try. ‘Three ways to take your fitness up a notch,’

4. Inject some Urgency and Scarcity

It’s a classic sales strategy to add a sense of urgency and scarcity to marketing content, and the same can work well for writing good email subject lines- because it makes us take action.

When you give your readers a deadline on time (urgency) or imply there is a limited amount of something they want (scarcity) in the subject line, you tap into the fundamental principle of human psychology: that we don’t like missing out, and we need a kick in the tush to take action. To avoid FOMO and to get the goods NOW! or BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, you bet we’re going to click and open that email.

Of course, never be pushy, aggressive, or manipulative when indicating urgency in your email subject line- be authentic and gentle and write in a way that conveys that you genuinely want the best for your readers and you don’t want them to miss out. 

You could try email subject lines like this:

‘Becky, I’ve only got 3 spots left this month!’

‘I don’t want you to miss this, Becky.’

’This pricing will never be available again!’

Obviously, don’t imply urgency or scarcity in ALL your emails because people will lose trust in you. But by creatively and authentically using urgency and scarcity in some of your email subject lines over time, your audience will confidently open your emails because they know you’ll come through on the goods!  

A close up of Becky holding a Turkish coffee with a Scrabble board game in the background with her childrens feet as they sit on the floor playing together.

5. Pique Their Interest

Pique interest and curiosity with your email subject line, and your subscriber won’t be able to resist clicking (but remember, no tacky clickbait, please!).

Questions, cliffhangers, story-promising sentences, personal questions, or controversial facts are all great ways to hook your readers’ attention and beckon them to open your email. 

They say curiosity killed the cat- well, we humans are also curious creatures. We love to learn new things – and we love a juicy scoop if there is one! Make sure that your subject lines are not too weird and mysterious (otherwise, they’ll make no sense and just confuse everyone!), and of course, it’s vital you follow up with relevant information inside your email to continue building trust with your audience. Here are some fun examples: 

‘Becky, I never saw it coming!’

‘I met the CUTEST guy at a bar last night; this is what happened…’

‘I cannot STAND it when my friends do this…’

‘Becky, what would you do in this situation?’

6. Offer immediate pain relief. 

Your email content should always be client-focused and offer solutions to the problems that they face in their lives or business. Reflect this well in your subject line so they can’t resist opening it. Try speaking to your subscriber’s pain points with the following examples:

‘How to defeat (insert problem) in just three weeks’

‘Stop making this ONE mistake that’s keeping you stuck.’

‘The quickest way to (insert what they want).’

Email subject lines offering immediate pain relief can also be an effective way to make sales, especially when offering instant gratification. 

A great way to get some inspo for a creative sentence for this email subject line is to scan through your email inbox or think of one of your favourite subscriptions. What sort of subject lines do you find irresistible? What relief do they offer you? (For me, it could be bio hacks to stop craving sweets in the evening, ways to improve my sleep, how to get more copywriting clients, how to be a more present mum, etc.). 

You want to tap into that sweet spot of ‘what do they want’ and ‘how can you make them feel’ when they read your subject line so they open it. I write more on how to address pain points in b2b email subject lines in my blog How to Write Good 2b2 Email Subject Lines.

Now, go Forth and Write Killer Subject Lines!

So there we go—seven tips to help you write an email subject line that will stand out in a crowded inbox and get READ! 

Here’s an extra extra bonus tip: 

People signed up for your newsletter to hear from YOU. Be vulnerable and personal in your subject lines to show your reader that you are showing up as your authentic self for them INSIDE the email, too (humans love to know what’s happening behind the scenes).

Connect with your readers emotionally through a few words in your subject line- and use their names, too. We’re all more likely to open a subject line containing our name because it comes across as a personalised message (even though we know it’s made from an automated email system!)

Remember to mix up these strategies for your email subject lines and have some fun with them. Let your personality shine through (remember: your unique brand voice!), and don’t be afraid to be different.

And, of course, always focus on giving your subscribers what they want—the value that only YOU can offer! For 15 read-to-use email subject lines visit my blog How to Write Good 2b2 Email Subject Lines.

Similar Posts