For businesses that practice email marketing, many make the mistake of not focusing on their email subject line. Rather, they focus exclusively on the content in their emails. While email content is very important, the email subject line is arguably more important. The email subject line is what encourages subscribers to actually open the email. So, when you have a great email subject line, more people will read the email content you carefully crafted. Additionally, a great subject line can prevent your email from going to the junk folder. In this blog post, we cover how to write a good email subject line and some tips to increase your open rate.

Strategies For Writing a Good Email Subject Line

When it comes to writing a subject line for your emails, it’s important to understand your audience. No matter which strategy you use for crafting your subject line, it’s nearly impossible to see success when you don’t target your audience. This means not shaping your email content based on the people in your email list. We recommend studying generational marketing to see what your audience responds best to. In part four of our copywriting skills series, we cover this extensively, so give it a read to see how to target them correctly. Once you find out what your audience will respond best to, consider the following tips.

Personalize Your Email Subject Line

One of the most common goals for businesses that practice email marketing is to increase their open rate. The open rate is the rate is the percentage of people who opened your email. The best way to increase this rate, no matter the demographics of your audience, is to personalize your subject line. According to studies, every generation and target audience appreciates personalization. In fact, personalizing an email can increase its open rate by five percent. This simple step can intrigue more of your audience to open your emails and read what you have to say.

Email subject lineTo personalize your emails, it’s best to use an email marketing platform. It can be very time consuming to write each subject line to include your customers’ names without using this type of platform. And, there could be a variety of other issues if you try to send mass emails out through a platform like Outlook or Gmail. Using a platform dedicated to sending mass emails can save you a great deal of time. It will store all of your contacts’ information, so you can add a personalization token. This token is what will insert their first and/or last name in your email subject line. This way, you only have to write the line once, send it to all of your customers, and the software will customize it for you.

Here’s an example of an email that’s not personalized: “Did you see our blog post about video marketing?”

Here’s an example of an email that is personalized: “David, did you see our blog post about video marketing?

Don’t Make the Common Subject Line Mistakes

How many times have you checked your email and seen the following?

  1. You DON’T Want to Miss This!!!!
  2. 12 Items You Should Purchase As Gifts For Your Friends, Pet, Spouse Family Member…
  3. Claim Your FREE ____ Now!

To someone who hasn’t researched email marketing, they may not recognize the problems associated with the email subject lines above. But, the above examples have several of the most common problems people make with writing their subject lines. If you don’t know why they aren’t effective, read the explanation below.


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You DON’T Want to Miss This!!!!

For number one, this phrase is very overused in marketing emails. It tries to create curiosity so the user opens the email, which is a great strategy. However, considering just about every business has sent this same subject line, it has lost its effect. Additionally, it overuses exclamation marks so it feels like yelling. The goal of many is to create excitement for the customer, but it comes across as yelling and inauthentic because of the five exclamation points. It’s best to use multiple exclamation points for truly exciting announcements such as expansions, new employees or new services.

Email subject line on iPad

12 Items You Should Purchase As Gifts For Your Friends, Pet, Spouse Family Member…

For number two, the subject line is just very long. Up to 78% of emails are read on mobile devices, which means the entire subject line will not be read. So, it’s best to keep your subject line short and concise, at about 41 characters. Use words that truly matter to the reader and eliminate any excess. For that subject line in particular, it would be better to say, “12 Gift Ideas for Anyone” or, “The Perfect Gift For Them.” Although these are vague, they will still generate curiosity. After all, everyone wants to give their loved ones the perfect gifts.

Claim Your FREE ____ Now!

The word “FREE” in the subject line looks suspicious and can send your email straight to the junk folder. Avoid using this word, and other trigger words that are considered spammy.


Lastly, with number three, it’s simply against your audience’s wishes. Over 85% of people say they prefer businesses to not use all caps in the email subject lines. This is likely because it feels like you are being yelled at, and it also looks spammy. Simply say, “[Name], we’re having a flash sale!” or “Get 75% off your order!” These feel more authentic and personalized.

Be Honest in Your Email Subject Line

Many businesses also fall into the trap of making false promises in their subject lines. While the goal of this may aim to be intriguing, not deceptive, it can be frustrating for customers. Trust is the most important thing to maintain with your customers. It’s best to have a lower open rate and be honest, than to have a high open rate that brings frustrated customers. If you are having a sale, don’t over-exaggerate what percent off they will save or how long the sale is available. Just be as intriguing as possible without stretching the truth.

Do A/B Testing

When it comes to learning your specific audience, it’s important to do A/B testing. This means using an email platform to send two different emails with different subject lines, but the same content. Then, using the analytics tools on the platform, you can see which email did better. Comparing how two different subject lines do will show you what your audience responds to best. Some email platforms even stop sending out one version if the other is clearly doing better.

Email Subject Line A/B TestingIf you aren’t sure how to do A/B testing, the goal is to test your audience’s preferences. So, you can test two different styles of subject lines. For example, “Get 75% off your order” versus “Take advantage of this sale!” to see if they prefer numbers over plain text. Or, “An Exclusive Sneak Peak For You!” versus “Want to see our brand new product?” to see if they like short, title-case capitalization subject lines or sentence-style questions. Based on your findings, you can take note and use the styles your audience gravitates to.

Our favorite email marketing platform is called Campaign Monitor. They make it extremely easy to do A/B testing and they also make it possible to test different portions of the email, beyond just the subject line.

Use a Non-Robotic Sender Name and Email Address

Do you get emails from names or emails like “Customer Support” or “noreply@[business].com?” If you do, you likely know how impersonal it sounds and how easy it is to recognize it’s a sales message. It may be helpful to create an email address for your company to send emails from with a real name.

Some companies opt for using a fake name. But this can be difficult if people know you are a small business. Your email name doesn’t have to be a fake name, but rather a different version of your name. For example, “hailey@jjlyonsmarketing[DOT]com” versus “haileydavis@jjlyonsmarketing[DOT]com.” Just make a version that feels personal, but is not your primary email address. Also, don’t forget to make the email from a real name, not “Customer Support” or “Marketing Email!”

Make Them Feel Special

Everyone likes to feel special! Try to use language that makes your email list feel appreciated. Email subject lines such as “An invitation just for you, [name]” or “Your coupon code for 25% off” can intrigue the viewer to open the email. This personalized touch will make them feel as though you sent the email, rather than an email system.

Crafting Great Email Subject Lines

With the tips above, you will be on track to write a great email subject line! Keep in mind, this is something that does take practice and you will improve with time. If you would like more advice on your email marketing, read our email marketing blog posts. We have several blog posts with statistics, tips and our expert advice to help you!

And, if you need help with our digital marketing in general, let us know! We’d be happy to have a conversation with you about this. You can connect with us via the contact form below.


Joshua Lyons Marketing, LLC was established in 2015. Since that time we have provided digital marketing services to business and professionals. We help our clients increase their online exposure as a means to increase sales and revenue. Our core services include search engine optimization (SEO), website development and content creation. We also provide other online marketing services, such as email marketing, marketing consultations and various types of advertising. Our team is based in the Milton, Pace and Pensacola, Florida area. However, we work with clients throughout the United States. Read More



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