If you’re like me, then you subscribe to many different email newsletters about various topics you’re interested in (and probably some topics you’re not that interested in, but you haven’t taken the time to unsubscribe).  That means every week I receive hundreds of emails and even though I’d love to read most of them, there’s simply not enough time in the day.

Sound familiar?  As emails pile up, I have to make a quick decision about which emails to open and read, and which to send to the trash folder.  You probably don’t even think about it, but we all make this decision by looking at the sender name and the subject line of the email.  If the sender is important enough (like your mom), then it doesn’t matter what the subject is of the email — you’ll open it up regardless.

Unfortunately, businesses don’t typically fall into the same category, so we need to rely heavily on the email subject line.  Your email subject line is like the key that opens the door.  It doesn’t matter what you write in the body of your email if no one takes the time to open up the email!

With that in mind, let’s take a look at 4 types of email subject lines that are proven to get your recipients to open your emails.



1. Descriptive Subject Lines

If the information your sending is compelling enough, then a straight forward, descriptive subject line can work well.  For example, if you’re emailing out a major update about your company, then you could test a subject line such as “Big News About

[XYZ Company].”  Or if you’re launching a new product, then try something like, “Brand New [XYZ Product] Just For You.”

Both examples simply describe the contents of the email, but they are exciting enough to encourage people to open up the email to learn more.


2. Benefit-Based Subject Lines

Next, use a benefit-based subject line that focuses on the key benefit included in your message.  In other words, answer your prospect’s question, “What’s in it for me?”

For example, if you’re an accountant, and your email newsletter shares tips for saving on your taxes, you could focus your subject line on that benefit, using a subject line like “How to Save on Your Taxes in 2015”.  That is clearly a compelling benefit that just about everyone will want to learn more about by opening the email.


3. Curiosity-Based Subject Lines

One of the best ways to get your emails opened is to use curiosity in your subject line. This is similar to benefit-based subject lines, but with more curiosity built in.

For example, let’s say you’re a nutritionist, and you’re sending out an email newsletter with diet tips. Your subject line could say “The 5 Foods You Should NEVER Eat.” That type of headline creates a lot of curiosity, because people want to know what the 5 foods are. And of course, you need to fulfill on that promise in the body of your email. These types of curiosity-based headlines are similar to the headlines you’ll see on the covers of magazines, where they’re enticing you to want to open the magazine and read the articles inside.


4. Personal Subject Lines

The fourth type of subject line is to take a more customized, personal approach. Essentially, you want to mimic the tone and style of a personal one-on-one email, just like you would send to a friend or family member.

Think about the emails you typically send to friends. Often you keep it short and sweet, right? Or maybe you’ll ask a question in the subject line.  For example, you might write, “Hi Phil” or even just “Hey.”

To prove that this tactic works, let’s take a look back at the 2012 presidential campaign when the Obama team raised $690 million from their email marketing.  Regardless of your politics, that is an impressive amount of money raised from email marketing, and they attributed a lot of their success to all the testing they did with subject lines. According to Toby Fallsgraff, the campaign’s email marketing director, their best open rate was on an email whose subject line said Hey. 

Always remember, email is an intimate marketing channel. Your messages go into your subscribers’ inboxes along with their friends and family. So a conversational tone will often perform best.

Want Even More Email Marketing Help?

On Thursday, March 12 at 12 – 1:30 pm Eastern time, I’m presenting a LIVE training called:

“How to Boost Your Sales with Email Promotions!”

Click here to learn more and register