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How to Write Winning Email Subject Lines that Get Opened!

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How to Write Winning Email Subject Lines that Get Opened!

2008-10-02 01:48:46

In this lesson you'll learn how to write winning email subject lines that get opened.

The first thing that all good subject lines need to do is dodge the spam blockers, and that involves cleansing them of words that will almost certainly guarantee filtering.

Some of the worst offenders include:

  • spamFree
  • Buy now
  • Cash
  • 50% off!
  • Click Here
  • Call now!
  • Subscribe
  • Earn $
  • Discount!
  • Eliminate Debt
  • Double your income
  • You're a Winner!
  • Amazing
  • Opportunity
  • Credit
  • Search Engine Listings

And that's just a small portion - you can find comprehensive lists of words that tend to trigger the spam filters just by Googling "words blocked by email spam blockers".

Another thing that really gets spam filters into action is using all capitals; super short subject headings are also likely to get their attention.

In our experience, not only are longer subject lines less likely to be picked up by spam filters, they also have better open rates! As a general rule, approximately 50 characters is a good length.

Additionally: Emails get opened more often when the subject heading gives a good indication of the content - silent and mysterious is not the way to go here. By all means provide some intrigue, but don't make people guess too much — they're not likely to bother!

For example:

  • "Six Tips for Beautiful Wedding Flower Arrangements" is much better than:
  • "John, open this email now. It's important!"

Very occasionally, the latter approach does work, but it must be used very, very sparingly. Ideally, the 'mystery' subject heading should be part of a launch campaign or a series of emails, so that people already have a fair idea of what to expect.

Most of the time it's best to leave people in no doubt as to how the email will benefit them.

Make it personal

It's harder to ignore emails that are addressed to you personally, even when you realize it's just a marketing tactic!

We highly recommend putting the first name tag from Aweber into your subject headings every now and then. Don't go overboard obviously, but personalizing two-thirds of the emails you send is a sound strategy.

Use a number

For some reason people just love a subject line (or any kind of heading for that matter),that contains a number. possibly because it just gives them some certainty regarding the benefit of what they are about to read.

"6 Tips", "5 Essentials" "10 Things to Love About..." — whatever the exact reasons behind it, most people can't help but find this type of subject line very appealing.

Ask a question

You can mix your 'number' subject lines up with another type of winning heading: the question.

For example: "Abby, does your dog jump up on people?"

Asking a question gives people pause for thought and is another proven way to get them to open the email.

Use "punchy" phrases

People are more likely to read emails that sound like they are going to be exciting. How do you make an email sound exciting? You use punchy words and phrases.

Some to try are:

  • "high octane"
  • "cutting edge"
  • "essential secrets"
  • "powerful tips"
  • "a simple trick" — this one isn't particularly punchy, but it's nonetheless effective.

Put these phrases into your subject line and you get something that's hard to resist:

  • '7 high octane strategies for doubling your eBay sales'
  • '5 cutting edge secrets to attracting women'
  • 'Essential strategies for winning back your Ex'
  • 'Eight powerful tips to double your French vocabulary'

The good news is you don't even need to come up with all these high voltage words yourself. There's an excellent thesaurus-style book called "Words that Sell", which is a very handy companion guide for all copywriting, especially catchy subject lines.

The time factor

Everyone worries about not having enough time and this is a great concept to play on in your email subject line.

These are subject lines that appeal because they either help to give people more time: "Double your conversion rates in just 2 hours"; or make people worry that they are running out of time: "Only 11 hours left to get the ultimate dog package"; both are very successful.

Limited quantity

If you are doing a live launch then the limited quantity factor can also be highly motivating for your readers; for instance:
"eBay Success Secrets is now live, only 474 left!"

Lesson Summary

In this lesson we've looked at useful email subject lines;

Email subject lines that are likely to get you filtered into spam include:

  • Those containing certain keywords
  • Subject lines with all capitals
  • Really short subject lines

Subject lines that are likely to get your email opened include:

  • Descriptive subject lines; 50 characters is the recommended length
  • Personally addressed subject lines
  • Subject lines that contain a number or a question
  • Subject lines that contain "punchy phrases"
  • Emails that cause a sense of urgency or involve time.


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