Tips on How to Write Successful Email Subject Lines to Improve Your Open Rates

It’s no secret that email subject lines hold all of the power when it comes to creating a successful email campaign. The difference between a poorly written subject line and an impactful one is simple and it’s all in your open rate. Today, we wanted to break down what exactly makes an email subject line impactful so that it motivates your audience to open your email, click that button, and drive traffic to your website.


Tip #1: Keep Things Short

Often when people access their email, the subject lines only preview so many words before they start to get cut off once they’re too long. A good rule of thumb is to keep your subject lines under 40 characters or to about 5 – 7 words. If your readers can’t actually read and/or understand what you are trying to say, they are less likely to interact with your email and will just keep scrolling on by.


  • Take your pick (Nokia Health)
  • New for you (HotelTonight)
  • All the shiny things (Etsy)

Tip #2: Avoid Using Anything That Can Be Confused With Being Spam

The last thing you want is for your emails to end up in your reader’s spam folder. This not only will practically guarantee them not opening your emails but it might actually make them unsubscribe from your list altogether. Using things like all caps, multiple exclamation points, or the common phrases, “Buy Now” or “Free”, are mistakes to avoid ending up being marked as spam.

Tip #3: Try Asking a Question

Asking a question in your subject line can spark intrigue from the reader to find the answer, therefore opening your email.


  • Did you get what you’re looking for?
  • Isn’t this trend pretty? (Rent The Runway)
  • Fall’s biggest trend? (Etsy)

Tip #4: Try Including a Deadline

Deadlines can be great motivators for your readers to take action. If there is a limited time to participate, register, take advantage of a sale, etc. your readers will feel a sense of urgency from calling out the deadline in your subject lines.


  • Your coupon Expires Tonight (
  • One week only: 30% off all lenses (

Tip #5: Try Using a Teaser

Readers love to be teased rather than reading something that is giving away everything right off the bat. Use a teaser to bait your readers and spark their interest in what it is you are talking about.


  • Can you keep a secret? (GlassesUSA)
  • This is big. Like, really big… (OFF 5th Saks Fifth Avenue)
  • You have to see what’s in this bag (Kate Spade)

Tip #6: Try Giving a Command to Take Action

As an alternative to teasing your readers, you can give them a direct call-to-action. If your intention is to get your readers to purchase something or attend an event, using a call-to-action in the subject line encourages them to do so.


  • STOP! You’ll miss this: 3 Day Sale (Lord & Taylor)
  • Take control of your color! (Pantone)

Tip #7: Try Using a List

Creating a list forces you to condense a larger portion of information into smaller, easily readable key points. Readers love lists for this reason.


  • The 4 jeans trends you need to try (Express)
  • 3 dress styles that WOW (Revolve)
  • Our 5 Favorite Summer Styles (BOSS)

Tip #8: Try Sharing an Announcement

When your readers subscribe to your newsletter, they can expect to receive the latest news from you. Announcements create enthusiasm and motivate your readers to find out more.


  • New Season, New Look (Call It Spring)
  • Tickets On Sale Now! (New York Comedy Festival)

Tip #9: Try Being Unique

With readers receiving numerous emails a day, it is essential to try and stand out from the rest.  It’s important to keep in mind who your target audience is to stay on-brand but also what you can offer your readers and/or potential customers that they cannot find elsewhere.


  • It’s Glow Time (MAC Cosmetics)
  • Open to avoid FOMO. (Rent the Runway)

Tip #10: Try Personalizing

There’s a fine line between personalizing a subject line and coming off as a creepy spammer. Using words like “you” and “your” are easy ways to make your subject line feel more personal to your readers. However, actually using your reader names in the subject line is something a spammer would do and likely will send your emails right to their spam or junk folders.


  • Open for your new motto (Loft)
  • Your next outfit is over 40% OFF…(Lord & Taylor)

Keep these tips in mind for the next email campaign you run, A/B test, and track your results!


Sources: Constant Contact, Constant Contact

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