Increase your open rate with subject lines

The goal of subject lines is to encourage readers to open your email and take action. Don’t let the pressure of writing the perfect subject line get to you. Finding the right words doesn't have to be difficult -- find some help, here.

Open rates depend on multiple factors like collection practices, list age and the industry in which you're sending. The average rate ranges from 10% to 25% (at the high end of the spectrum). We analyzed thousands of subject lines to find those with the highest open rates and the most impact. Here’s what we learned.

Be Specific

The subject line should tell readers what they're going to find inside.

Here’s an example that garnered an open rate of 37%:

Only Three Days Left for this Great Offer for [Company Name] Readers!

It’s totally clear what the email is about and the reader knows, when they open the email, they will read the details about the special offer. Also, note the “call to action” and a sense of urgency. However, it's worth avoiding overwrought proclamations -- you don't want to come on too strong.

It's definitely not ok to say "This News Will Save Your Life!!!" They may be fun to write but if it's not true to the email, you'll turn off your readers.

Be True To The Purpose Of A Subject Line

The purpose is a preview of the email; a handful of words that capture the essence of the subject matter.

Here’s a winner:

Boeing expanding footprint of S.C. facilities

That subject line got a 30% view rate! It taps directly into what that company’s readers are interested in.

Words With Friends

Feedback is extremely constructive and with subject lines, getting some outside perspective is vital.

Ask your friends and colleagues what they think the subject line should be or have them edit your subject lines. Better yet, come up with a few options and ask them to come up with some themselves. Then see which ones are best. You’ll be surprised at how often this results in the perfect subject line.

Split Second Impressions

The first words matter! When the email is being previewed, your first few words are the one’s that will be seen so make ‘em count. Litmus has a neat tool to preview how your subject lines will appear across multiple email clients.

Here’s a subject line that grabs attention:

This Deal's a Crime! The Murder Mystery Repeat Offender Deal!

For a business that deals with murder mysteries, that’s a super strong opening that netted them a 32% open rate.

Content Is King

Subject lines are a major factor in generating healthy open rates. It’s the first step to engagement and as such, it’s worth looking at how your content drives your subject line rather than viewing the subject line as an afterthought.

A compelling subject line can only be built on a strong foundation of content so make sure that your newsletter itself offers value. Thinking holistically, if you want to drive higher open rates, write content that generates great subject lines.

Who Are You?

While analyzing our top performing subject lines, a trend did emerge. Of emails that had the highest open rates, 76% of them had either their business name or the product name mentioned in their subject lines.

That’s more than a coincidence, that's a pro tip: the top subject line writers use either their company name, the product name or both.

This one had a view rate of 44%:

Nursery Flannel from Cloud 9 Organics is Now Available at [Company Name]

Utilize Google Insights For Search

If you're unsure of which words are best suited to your subject line, try comparing them with Google's Insights For Search. While it's technically a tool to help improve search engine optimization (aka SEO) and help you understand what people are searching for on Google, the tool offers great 'insight' into online interests in general.

It's most useful for subject lines when you want to compare which words will be more powerful or whether to lead with a certain timely topic over another.


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