How to Write Great Email Subject Lines

After more than fifteen years owning and operating an agency, I can tell you the single biggest business superpower you can posses is writing great subject lines.

(Of course, writing great emails too)

In my experience great emails generate business, but great subject lines get them opened.

Excellent subject lines...

  • Grab attention
  • Get opened
  • Condition people to take action

But, how do you consistently write subject lines that do these three things?

First, determine your voice and tone.

What’s most natural for you or your client? Fun, serious, authoritative, friend, teaching, or learning and documenting?

Second, think about what else is in your audience’s inbox. You’re looking to write subject lines that either stand out from the other emails in their inbox or look exactly like emails coming from colleagues.

Let’s look at a couple of examples of this technique...

  • Totally different from the typical:
  • Oh no you didn’t
  • Now for something completely different
  • No one else will tell you this

Exactly like an office mate: * Quick question * Can you take a look at this? * Are you available this week? * Review and tell me what you think

Finally, think about the expectations you want to create. Your subject line is pre-selling the content of your email and offer inside.

(Please tell me there is an offer inside of every one of your emails!)

Two common mistakes email marketers make are writing subject lines that oversell or hype a mundane or promise or imply something that’s not inside the email.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • “You don’t want to miss this!” But, inside is a link to an average blog posts
  • “3 things that will change your business today”. But, inside are three overly strategic or complex tactics that you’re unlikely to ever take the time to do.
  • “Let’s do something weird”. But, inside is a request to try your software or register for a demo. There better be something wicked outrageous in this email.

Alright, that’s my framework for writing email subject lines that consistently get high open rates.

But, I don’t have a corner on the clever subject line writing ideas market.

Now, it’s your turn...

What’s your favorite or go-to email subject line to get opens?

Here are some more of my favorites:

  • Something unexpected: You want to do something weird?
  • Super short: Done!
  • Urgency: Time’s up! (Almost)
  • Personal: Bill, this is what worked for me…
  • Insider: 3 things your agency won’t tell you
  • FOMO: Could 1000 people be wrong?
  • Pop culture: How I used Baby Yoda to grow my Linkedin audience
  • Easy, copy and paste: 10 ready to use sales scripts
  • Ask for help: Bill, will you do me a favor?
  • Curiosity: I never thought this would work, Oh no you didn’t

What is your best subject line? Drop it in the comments.

Working on an email campaign that you need a little help with? Drop me a line.