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Email subject: 9 tips to create catchy lines and increase the open rate

You’ve created the perfect email, with crafted content, CTAs and beautiful design, now there’s just one thing left to do, convince the reader to open it. And that’s why the email subject it’s so important.

The best email marketing campaign can yield little results if you fail to create compelling subject lines, and this post is all about how to do that.

Email subject: 9 tips to increase the open rate

What is email subject?

The subject line of an email is the text that people see before opening the message.

Basically, in your inbox appears the name of the person who sent the email and its subject. Whether you open that message or not, among so many others, depends on whether the subject caught your attention.

Because of the impact it has on open rates, writing catchy headlines is an important part of crafting email marketing.

So how do you come up with a compelling email subject line? It may seem simple, but the truth is that there are several factors and strategies to consider.

You should also clearly know what your campaign’s goal is and what kind of audience you’re writing for.

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9 tips for creating compelling email subject lines

This is the moment when every word counts, and knowing which ones to use is what separates your campaign from having good results or not.

Check out these 9 tips for creating email subject lines that will positively impact open rates.

1. Get personal

When you read articles and watch videos of marketing gurus saying that using the recipient’s name in the subject lines it’s important, believe them.

The impact this has on open rates has been debated before, and the consensus is that it’s positive.

One analysis conducted by MailChimp found that personalized subject lines, that is, that contain the person’s first and last name, actually increase open rates.

Maybe the person is scared, maybe impressed, but the truth is that it brings results.

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2. “Free” is not for everyone

Contrary to what many think (and practice), including the word “free” in the email subject to attract readers does not always give the expected result.

The graph below shows that while the impact of using “free” on a subject has been positive and statistically significant for certain segments, for others the opposite happened.


People in the medical, retail, and travel industries should avoid using the word “free,” but the dining and entertainment industries can certainly benefit from it.

The tip is to use the word “freebie”, which showed good results for all.

3. Sense of urgency 

The famous “FOMO”, Fear Of Missing Out, continues to work its magic.

Words that awaken a sense of urgency in the reader work as a mental trigger and they do lead to higher open rates.

Therefore, terms like “urgent”, “last chance”, “today only”, are useful to create powerful email subjects.

However, remember that with great power comes great responsibility, so use these headlines wisely so you don’t end up irritating the reader, losing credibility and ending up in the spam folder.

Only appeal to a sense of urgency when you really have one limited time opportunity, do not advertise falsely.

4. Announcements and invitations

Everyone likes to be invited to something, even if they have no intention of attending, so since your goal is to get your message read, don’t think twice about using this strategy.

Announcement of a release, for example, might come with an invitation for the reader to visit your website to learn more about the new product.

You can write in the email subject “Special invitation for (name of person)”, to draw attention to a new course you are launching, making those who received it feel curious and special for having been remembered first.

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5. Words that work well (or not) together

Sometimes two words can provide context that a single word cannot convey, and they end up having more impact together.

Research conducted by MailChimp found that, first and foremost, people love to be thanked. Then, starting an email subject with a “thank you” has a good chance of attracting attention.

It has also become evident that titles that mention current events, such as natural disasters and political issues, have higher open rates than usual. A good tip for creating informative content used in newsletters, for example.

And finally, a rather obvious finding: people don’t like to be asked to sign up for anything – and they really don’t like being told they’re missing out on their last chance to get something they already got an email about. So, avoid sentences like “last call”, “apply now” and things like that.

When coming up with your email subject, don’t test your audience’s patience. Focus on offering something, do not ask.


6. All CAPS, to be or not to be

A common doubt when preparing the email subject is whether we should give in to the impulse to write the message in all caps, in the hope that it will attract more attention from the reader and convince him to open it.

The answer is no. In addition to irritating the recipient, this damages the credibility of your business and you could end up being punished by spam filters.

If you only want to capitalize one word, that’s another story. Used sparingly and tastefully, this strategy can work.

7. Numbers for good

Numerical data and percentages have a special power over people, as they offer accurate information on a particular subject.

If your target audience is made up of more pragmatic and analytical people, avoid an email title with vague content and use clear and direct information.

You can use numbers to address some topic of interest to your audience, like a piece of data that came up in a new survey, a specific discount for a product, or pointing out the numerical benefit of a specific feature you’re providing — like “Recommended by 500+ people on Google reviews!”.

8. Curiosity is the key

We’ve come this far without mentioning the word Copywriting, but know that it is omnipresent when it comes to writing something with a focus on attracting and convincing people.

Combining creativity and a good notion of copy, it is possible to create email subject lines that simply make the recipient curious, making it almost impossible for him not to open the message to find out what it is about.

Writing something provoking, as a question, can yes result in higher open rates.

If you are selling an online astrology course, for example, you can put something like this in the subject of the email: “Do you know how the position of the stars influences your mood?”.

But make sure the subject line, while cryptic, is still aligned with your brand. Something too obscure could end up being seen as spam.

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9. On time

Sending an email at the right time with the right subject line makes a big difference in open and click rate

A prime example? When it’s getting close to the end of the day on Friday and you send an email saying “best drinks to make at home”.

For those who work with the sale of subscription plans, sending an “Oh no, your subscription is ending” two weeks before the recipient needs to renew is also a wise decision.

It’s all about timing and strategy. Is there a commemorative date related to your business coming up? Don’t miss the chance to create an email and focus on the subject to boost engagement.

Hit the email subject line and get more clicks


Lots of these tips can be applied to email marketing campaigns directly, like:

  • Use names to personalize the message
  • Create sense of urgency
  • Ask questions
  • Thank your recipients

The content of your message it’s really what determines what words you use, but with so few words in an email subject line, each one matters a lot.

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Be sure to test and make the necessary adjustments to achieve the best results.

Test not just email subject lines, but your content, CTAs, and even custom metrics that reflect the purpose of your email, such as page views and enrollment in your course.

Also be sure to provide easy unsubscribe options and manage email preferences. This will allow you to focus your efforts on truly engaged users.

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