Your Guide to Writing Subject Lines for Marketing Emails

By Raubi Perilli

      Mar 18, 2022     Solutions    

Even if you craft the best email with the most desirable offer, it’s not going to do any good unless someone opens it. An unopened email is an unread email, so you need to do everything you can to spark interest. One way to do that is by crafting a great subject line.  

A great subject line can be the difference between your email going unread or getting opened and leading to a conversion.  

To help you improve this little line of text, here are some tips for writing great subject lines for emails. Bookmark this page and refer to it when you need inspiration for crafting new marketing emails for your business.

Best Practices for Writing Subject Lines for Marketing Emails

We’re going to share some best practices for writing subject lines for emails. But, there is an important note before we get started.  

There is no magic formula for writing subject line copy.  

While there are good guidelines to follow, nothing is guaranteed. What works in one industry might not work in another. What some audiences enjoy, others may dislike. Some rules were made to be broken. So start with what feels right for your unique audience and business, test, and review results to see what will work best for your list.

Here are a few best practices to get you going.

Know your audience.

Audiences respond differently to messaging. So as you launch your email marketing initiatives, start by getting to know your audience. Knowing who you are talking to will help direct the language of your email subject lines.  

For example, if your audience is a group of twenty-somethings who are into surfing, your subject lines might be funny or edgy. But, if your audience is financial investors, you would likely want to use a more professional, authoritative tone.  

Related: Get to Know Your Customers Through Super Simple Buyer Personas  

Play with formatting.

To stand out in an inbox, try using more than text. Use other elements to draw in the eye and catch attention.  

  • Use parentheses or brackets for part of the subject line.
  • Use hashtags to call out a specific word or phrase.
  • Incorporate special characters to break up text.
  • Add emojis at the beginning of the subject line or to highlight a specific point.

Here’s an example of how Chipotle wrote a short subject line that grabs your attention through the use of emojis.  

Use personalization.

An email is about 26% more likely to be opened when it includes personalization in the subject line, according to Campaign Monitor. Personalized copy, such as the recipient’s name, in subject lines catches attention and increases open rates.  

When you collect customer contact information, be sure to ask for first and last names so you can use them in your email subject lines. And, also think beyond names. Consider what other personalized details (such as city name or store location) you can use in subject lines to make it more personalized for the recipient.  

Related: What Is Personalized Marketing & How Can Local Brands Use It?

Have an attention-grabbing angle.

A descriptive subject line is a good place to start when crafting your text. But, also consider how you can use an attention-grabbing angle to make your email a little more icing. 

  • Add a Sense of Urgency: Use time-sensitive offers, dates, and countdowns that make it seem important to open the email right away.
  • Create FOMO: Let the audience know what they might miss out on if they don’t open the email right away.
  • Call Out the Audience: When possible, use identifying terms and phrases to make the audience feel like the email is speaking directly to them.
  • Stir Up Curiosity: Keep the audience guessing by presenting a teaser they want to see resolved or a question they want to see answered.
  • Add Numbers: Show value by adding numbers to the subject line in the case of lists or steps. Numbers are also a good way to break up text and draw in the eye.

Related: How to Create a Restaurant Email Marketing Strategy

Utilize the preheader.

When it comes to catching attention in an inbox, you have another line of copy you can use to stand out. It’s the preheader.

The preheader is the line of text that comes after the subject line. Depending on the length of your subject line, you will see this copy typically as a lighter shade of secondary text. Some email marketing programs account for this line of text and have a field to customize it. Others simply pull the first lines of text or HTML from the email to fill this space.  

Whenever possible, use custom text in this space to follow up on the subject line and provide additional reasons for why the reader should open the email. Don’t let this line of text go to waste, like in this example.  

Remove HTML and useless content from the preheader.

Preheader text often pulls the first line of text or code from the body of your email. This can create a problem if the first portion of your email is an image or includes HTML. If you don’t have an option to customize the preheader text, check the first lines of code in your email to make sure that you aren’t wasting precious inbox space by showing lines of HTML code. 

Related: 9 Strategic Email Marketing Campaigns Your Business Can Launch

Use words that inspire opens.

Get some inspiration for your subject lines. Try incorporating these words in your next email subject line.  

  • Free
  • Limited
  • Exclusive
  • Tomorrow
  • Today
  • Last Chance
  • Expires
  • Days Left
  • Don’t Miss
  • Hurry
  • For You
  • Shhh/Psst
  • Invitation
  • Secret
  • Reserved
  • Wow/Whoa
  • Miss You
  • Ends
  • Urgent

Related: 45 Email Marketing Ideas to Inspire Your Next Campaign

Get Better Results from Your Email Marketing

While a subject line is an important part of email marketing, it’s just one part of a larger strategy. Subject lines help get your email opened, but you still need strategies for:  

If you want to build out a full email marketing strategy, talk to the team at MyArea Network. We have both the strategies and the tools to help you create a full email marketing plan for your business. Contact us for a free conversation about how we can help you set up a stronger email marketing plan.