CATEGORY: email-marketing

7 tweaks to your subject lines that will improve open rates

7 tweaks to your subject lines that will improve open rates

I have been having a few conversations recently with my clients about how they can boost their open rates and they have seen some great successes as a result of some minor changes. It's knowledge that I think is worth sharing so here it is. 

First, a question: How do you decide which emails you open and which to ignore? 

Look at your inbox and you will see three very important factors that determine whether an email is successful or if it fails at the first hurdle. These are: 

  •  The sender identity (who the email is from)

  • The subject line

  • The preview text 

If you’re worried that your emails aren’t getting noticed, changing any of these could boost your open rates. 

But whilst the sender activity can be easily changed and tested, and the preview text will depend on the content of the email, it is the subject line which can so often make a difference. So, here are seven tweaks to your subject lines you can make today that will make a difference to your email engagement:

1.Write a Headline

Take a lead from tabloid news and try to make the subject line sensational. You may not be able to match “Freddie Starr ate my hamster” but try to imagine your subject line as a headline on the front page. 

2.Pose a question

The content of your email may be the answer that your recipients are looking for. What is the question? A subject line like “Are you ready to use automation in your marketing emails?” challenges the recipients to answer.

3.Shorter is sweeter

While it’s generally accepted that email subject lines should be no longer than 40 characters, I would say that being succinct is better. Get across what you want to say in as few words as possible. 

4.Add a deadline to create urgency

If there is a time limit on an offer or event, by including it in the subject line you can elicit a sense of urgency. For example: “Are you prepared for GDPR? Join our webinar on 25th July to find out?” However….

5.Don’t sound ‘spammy’

Filling the subject line with strong sales language can put people off opening your email.  Discount emails may work well with those who are already engaged with you but are unlikely to get new people engaging with your marketing. If they don’t know the worth of your product then they won’t appreciate the discount.  

6.Why so serious? 

There’s a reason why memes spread so quickly. A humorous subject line designed to make your recipients smile not only breaks the monotony of their inbox but also could mean more people opening your email. Win-win.  


Like the tip above to consider writing your subject lines as newspaper headlines, look at click-bait articles. You know the ones, where you are told that “a third of people can’t do this” or “half of all people who are doing “x” are wasting money”. By adding a statistic to your subject line, you add credibility to what you are saying. “30% of B2B emails found to have lack-lustre subject lines”.  

Just make sure that your email delivers what the subject line promises, which some click-bait articles don’t. 

Summary (and an extra tip for good measure) 

None of the above is guaranteed to work as every audience is different. These are ideas to experiment with and you should be looking to split-test subject lines to determine what style of subject line works with your recipients. In fact, the 8th tip is to “Always Be Testing”. Many Marketing Automation platforms, like e-shot™, provide tools for split-testing. Using these to figure out what works best with your audience will help you see your engagement increase incrementally.  

If you would like to find out more how the e-shot™ Marketing Automation platform could boost your digital lead generation, visit or drop me an email or add me on LinkedIn 

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