7 Tips for Email Subject Lines

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In this article we will discuss 7 tips focused on email subject lines to increase open rates.

Since the emergence of the first major commercial Internet service providers in the early 1990s, email marketing has become one of the most effective and rapid methods of communication. Although a number of other effective direct communication channels have since been developed, email marketing continues to be one of the most advantageous direct communication marketing touch points.
Did you know that theres an estimated 3.61 Billions email sent and received in 2024? Within the United States alone, there are approximately 244.5 million email users. That’s a lot of emails! The challenge is that the average email user receives over 200+ emails on a daily basis, according to Statista. With more email users being created year over year, it becomes even more challenging to ensure that you’re getting your emails read.

361 Billion emails sent in 2024 - estimate ColinWayne.com


There are a number of things that you should do to help increase your odds of increasing your email open rates, including: setting up your DNS records with proper DKIM, DMARC, SPF, and BIMI Records; List Cleaning; Utilization of A/B Testing; Subject Lines/Pre-Headlines/From Lines, as well as email send-times. These are just a few examples of what you can utilize to ensure that your emails are at least sent with best practices to increase your overall email performance. In this article, I will be going over seven psychology tips for utilizing your email subject lines to increase your open rates.

Considerations: Comprehensive touch points, such as: targeted audience, industry, location, gender, and an internal understanding of what the primary objective of your email is, will help you tremendously in creating email subject lines. 


1) Create Curiosity:

In human psychology, we are curious about the things we don’t know. That’s why to leverage this thing, you must create curiosity in the subject lines.
For example, if you’re sending an abandoned cart email, instead of writing the subject line like we have all seen, “We Have Your Order Saved!”, consider utilizing curiosity within the copy for the consumer to likely open their email by writing the subject line as “Update on your current order”—the intended user will likely be curious as to what this intended email is being that they are familiar with your branded company name but knowing that they didn’t complete their order. 

Example 1.)
Subject: Unveil Savings Secrecy! 🕵️‍♂️ What’s Hidden Inside?
Pre-headline: Discover exclusive deals awaiting your investigation – it’s a mystery worth solving!

Example 2.)
Subject: Sneak Peek Alert! 🌟 Peek into the Future of Fashion…
Pre-headline: Get a first look at our latest arrivals and limited-edition releases – your style upgrade is just a click away!

2) Personalized Subject Lines:

Consider using profile property data (if available) such as their first name, city, birthday, transaction history, browsing history, or, at the very least, their email address if we are emailing someone. Use their email within the subject line (example below):

Example 1.)
Subject Line: Status Update on your Pending Order for {{ email }}
Pre-headline: open to preview…

Example 2.)
Personally Curated for {{ first_name }}: Your Dream Collection is Here! ✨
Pre-headline: Indulge in handpicked items tailored to your taste – a personalized shopping experience like never before.

Example 3.)
Headline: {{ first_name }}, Your VIP Invitation: Inside Scoop on New Arrivals! 🚀
Pre-headline: Get an exclusive preview of our latest releases – your VIP access to the hottest trends and innovations awaits!

3) Humanization:

People connect best with people and can see through the generic email templates and segmented triggers that they receive from businesses on a daily basis. Consider writing your “subject” and “from” lines as an individual rather than an organization. For example,

Example 1.)
Subject Line:
Hey {{ first_name }}, it’s Colin here from Redline Steel
Pre Headline: [Open to Preview]

Example 2.)
Headline: A Note from the Founder/CEO
Pre-headline:  I’m here to make your experience unforgettable – let’s shop together!


4) Text Only Emails:

There are several benefits of using a text-only email, such as: 1) better deliverability for inboxing, due to the file size being extremely low; 2) being perceived as a more personal touch point; and 3) not requiring a designer to create assets for you to send a last minute email update reminder. 

Tip: If you send an initial email out to a customer or non-customer and they don’t open the email within 16 hours, you can easily re-send them a text-only email with the same information provided in the email listed above to help increase your chances of them opening your email. 


5) Targeted Emails based on an Industry – Example: 

Fashion Industry
As a result of the supply chain reaching a particularly difficult peak in 2022, consumers are becoming accustomed to inventory shortages in the fashion industry, which is widespread across the world. With this basic understanding, you can utilize this knowledge as a benefit to drive scarcity by ensuring they order one before it’s sold out forever. You can also leverage this data to specify size, color, or style, if it’s a multi-variant product. Fashion marketers are always on-the-go showcasing new arrivals for the start of any season and need to gauge consumer feedback before holding substantial inventory on-hand. This is why it is extremely critical to understand what your customer wants. 

To increase email open rates within the fashion industry, one specific thing that you can add in the subject line is the number of remaining quantities in-stock for a particular item. For instance,

Subject Line: This year’s best-selling Summer Clutch has less than 192 remaining.

Pre-Headline:  As of  {% current_month_name %}, {% current_day %}, {% current_year %} 

Note that this can be applied to a number of industries, although I used fashion as my primary industry example. 


6) Known Industry Omni-Channel Behaviors

An underutilized strategy is using behaviors within email marketing to increase open rates based on behaviors on other platforms. Three paragraph spacing for long form copy on any given Facebook post, for example, would prompt a “… See More” or “Continue Reading” clickable link. Use this in your email subject lines to increase your open rate percentage. For example,  

Example 1.)
Subject Line: 
Based on your email on file – {{ email }}

Pre Headline: We created a special gift package for you … see more


7) Communicate Urgency/Scarcity

As outlined earlier, the fashion industry’s example aligns very well with the scarcity-based inventory concerns around the world for physical goods. However, there are a number of other great ways to communicate urgency and scarcity without sounding too “sales-driven.” 

  1. A) Offer Incentive Bonuses with a compelling call to action (CTA). For example,

“With any purchase made between now and midnight PST, you will receive a FREE exclusive hat.”

  1. B) FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) + Attractive Offer (example below):

Subject Line: Save 40% OFF on our NEW Product Collection

Pre Headline: Ends at midnight… see more

Additional examples: 
Subject: “Countdown to Savings: 24 Hours Left! ⏳
Pre-headline: The clock is ticking! Only one day left to enjoy special discounts – shop now or miss out!

Subject Line: Last Chance Alert! ⏰ Limited Stock, Act Now!
Pre-headline: Hurry, our most coveted items are almost gone – seize the moment before it’s too late!

In conclusion, with an average of 200+ emails being sent to every email address, ask yourself “why should they open my email?” If the consumer doesn’t open your email, the irresistible content inside is irrelevant. Focus on figuring out who you want to reach and why. Then build an email strategy that uses important touch points like a great “subject” line, pre-header, “from” line, and send-time to receive optimal results.

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