Awesome Web Guy / Super Smart Marketing Strategy

The Art of the Email Subject Line

bw-envelope-letter-opener-email-subject-lineYou know that little bar above the body of the email? Yeah, the one where you never know what to write? That’s what I’ll be covering here.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this.

Think about it. When you’re checking your own inbox… looking over the flood of messages you’ve recieved in the past day or two… how do you decide what to read and what to delete?

There’s two deciding factors here:

  1. Who sent it, and
  2. The subject line

Regardless of how much effort you spent on your awesome email newsletter, very few people will see it if your subject line makes people think that it’s junk. And junk mail is stuff we don’t want. The internet has another word for that.


The goal of your subject line now becomes clear:

It should make the recipient want to open it!

Forget that it’s called a subject line. Pretend that it’s a headline of a news article, which is how we know whether we’re interested in reading the rest.

If you title your emails with a summary of content (ie. “Our winter fundraising campaign”) then you’re just convincing the recipient not to open it.

So how do we get someone to open our emails?

Think about the emails you open most. From friends, coworkers, family. Do they post descriptive subject lines? I’m guessing not. A few from my inbox are:

  • Saturday
  • tomorrow
  • suit up
  • lunch
  • have plans this weekend?

Simple. Easy. Makes me curious about what’s inside.

The average for email open rates (percentage of people who open emails) in many industries is about 20%. It’s likely that only 1 in 5 people are actually opening the email you spent so much time on!

Better subject line = more people opening. This is an easy metric to track your effectiveness.

Next time you’re ready to send your next email campaign, put a little more thought into your subject line. Make it simple and personal. Don’t “blast out your message,” imagine you’re talking to a friend… then let me know what happens to your open rate.

What other challenges do you have with getting people to open and read your emails?

Photo credit: WikiMedia Commons