How many unread emails are in your inbox? 200? 800? Or perhaps, if you’re on countless mailing lists, 1,000? And that’s only after some email cleaning!

Now pause for a moment and try to guess the average number of emails sent and received every day, worldwide.

Would you believe it reached 306.4 billion in 2020 alone? This statistic just goes to show that modern inboxes are crowded, noisy, and extremely competitive.

How then will you make your email stand out within the inbox if you’re a marketer?

The answer is to do something special and unique! And where do you start? Your subject line, of course. After all, no matter how great your newsletter is, it will still be worthless if it does not see the light of day.

Here’s the good news — You can write subject lines that your readers simply can’t resist!

In this post, we’ll share with you our guiding principles to help you write the best email subject lines and other tips to improve your email open rates.

The Key Elements of an Irresistible Email Subject Line

1. The Fundamentals: Based on the Four “U” Approach to Subject Writing

When you write your email subject lines, run it through a checklist that is based on this Four U approach:

  • Ultra-specific: Does the recipient know what is being promised?
  • Useful: Is your promised content valuable to the reader?
  • Urgent: Do the email recipients feel the need to read it now?
  • Unique: Is the promised message remarkable and compelling?

Keep in mind that you’re trying to get that reader to take their valuable time and invest it in your content.

A subject line that incorporates all those four elements won’t miss. However, the execution of email can still be tricky. So, allow us to drill down into the specifics for better understanding.

2. The Specifics

Beyond the fundamentals of writing subject lines, here are other things you or your marketing team have to specifically focus on the following:

Identify yourself

When you meet someone in person, it’s often pretty straightforward. You smile, shake hands, and introduce yourself. But what if you are introducing yourself through email?

Some may say it is nerve-racking when there’s a lot of pressure just to get the words right. But don’t worry. Focus on identifying yourself first, not in your email message but from the “From” field.

Make it crystal clear from there or you can begin every email subject with the same identifier.

Over time, the most compelling part about your email message is that it comes from “you.”

This means that your recipient needs to know that you are a trusted source even without clicking the email yet.

A familiar name in the “From” field gives a feeling that it is an actual person they’re dealing with instead of an abstract entity.

Specific and useful first

Out of the four “U” approaches we mentioned earlier, focus on the ultra-specific and useful,  even if you ignore the urgent and unique fundamentals.

Why? That’s because there are already a lot of people online who work at urgent and unique fundamentals with their email subject line. They’re called spammers.

Do not cross the line into writing a subject line that may be perceived as garbage, although we encourage you to throw a bit of a tease. You can write catchy subject lines or funny email subject lines that attract readers.

Some of the best catchy email subject lines we’ve seen includes:

  • From chaos to calm ✨🏡
  • Abra-cord-abra! Yeah, we said it.
  • 1,750 points for you. Valentine’s flowers & more.
  • Are you free this Thursday at 10 PM PST? [guest blogging class]

Use urgency when it’s useful

A good subject line creates a sense of urgency. It can be words that stress time, like “breaking,” “alert,” “important,” “tomorrow,” and “now.”

Other ways of creating urgency include the words, “reply soon, “limited space available,” and “register today.”

The best subject lines that create a sense of urgency are also those that choose concrete times and numbers. However, don’t oversell. It really just needs to be urgent.

And use it when your email message is actually useful like there’s a deadline or there is a compelling reason to act fast.

Shorter is better

Yup, keep your subject line short and sweet, especially that some of your recipients are opening their emails through their mobile devices.

If you’re struggling to keep your best email subject lines short, just retain the words that matter most and remove the frivolous detail.

Some simple subject line examples include, “It’s time to rethink Black Friday” and “Missed you, how’s Thursday?.”

Don’t waste your time putting the word “newsletter” or “update” in the subject line as it may decrease your open rate because it tells your recipients that the content is associated with a series so they can just catch the next email.

Instead, use high-performing subject line keywords when crafting your email copy. For instance, use the keyword “free stuff” in your welcome email.

Another tip to keep your subject line short is to write your email first, take a few minutes to read the content and discover from there what could be clearly expressed in just one sentence.

Practice getting to the point. Answer these essentials:

Who are you, what do you want from your subscribers, why should they give it to you, and when will you need it?

Use spam checking software

You probably know by now that certain words can trigger spam filters. Still, there’s confusion on what these words are exactly.

Is it really okay to use the word “free” in your subject line?

So as not to second guess, use spam checking software and let such a tool do its job. Craft good email subject lines and adjust whenever you have to.

We recommend you draft multiple subject lines during the A/B testing of your campaign and use varying tones and words to see which one subject line performed the highest.

3. The Secret Sauce

The most important metric that you need to focus on is one that cannot be measured easily. It’s called trust.

Getting people to trust you with their email is not easy.

But once you get that initial trust (and eventually grow it), you may not always write good subject lines but people will still open your message.

Don’t get us wrong, writing a great subject line coupled with a more intimate relationship with your subscribers is more effective.

In an information-drenched world, there’s something special about getting invited into someone’s inbox. And that’s the secret sauce.

Get Your Emails Opened

Your subject line is such an important element that recipients consider before they decide whether or not to open or click your email.

You can spend hours writing for your readers.

…but if your subject line does not pique their interest, it still won’t matter.

Follow these tips to help you write the best email subject lines for your campaign. Your goal should be to engage your subscribers so they click and read the content.

And oh! don’t forget to have fun while writing your subject lines. Include puns or emojis if you must add flair to your email, but use it sparingly.

Above all, choose your words wisely. Remember that every single word you write in your subject line can make a difference.

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