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Creating Compelling Email Subject Lines: Tips and Examples

Published on:

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

How many emails arrive in your inbox on a daily basis?

Probably loads - are we right?

Well, now ask yourself how many of those you feel compelled to open, and how many you delete without a second thought. We can almost guarantee that it’s more than half.

Which makes life as an email marketer pretty tough, wouldn’t you agree?

We know how important it is that clients and customers open our emails, especially if they’re currently a prospect who we want to convert. We also know that the only way to successfully do that is through a great email subject line - which is the topic of today’s blog post.

Understanding the Role of Email Subject Lines

An email subject line is a very short and snappy window into the content that sits behind the “click to open” button of an email.

It lets recipients know what’s in the email and why they should open it.

But here’s the thing… how do you know what works and what doesn’t?

Interestingly, just under half of email opens take place on mobile devices. What’s more, Friday’s are the day of the week most likely to see opened emails (perhaps it’s to do with a desire to avoid work) - and the more personalised an email subject line appears, the better.

In short, an email subject line plays an integral role in encouraging the recipient to open, ignore, or delete an email completely. Therefore it’s a pretty important part of your email strategy!

The Anatomy of a Compelling Subject Line

Anatomy of an email subject line

We’re going to keep this simple with a single line for you to remember.

The best subject lines are concise and intriguing, seasonally relevant, or informative about what’s in the email.

If you can make subject lines conversational and direct to the reader then that’s even better, while the shortest lines are (logistically) better placed on all devices.

When creating your subject line, think about whether it’s being received by users who are familiar with you and your brand or relatively new followers - how and when they have interacted with you, and what they might want from you now. A good and compelling subject line will seek to give recipients what they want, when they want it.

Tips for Creating Engaging Email Subject Lines


If you have captured information about your recipient list, then you should be able to access this personal data in a formula which puts their name in the subject list.

For example, Hey XXX, have you heard about this deal?

Or We think you’re going to LOVE this XXX.

Urgency and Scarcity

Creating a sense of urgency is advice that we offer to email marketers and landing page copy creators alike - making something feel important and exclusive enough to inspire instant action rather than a “leave it for later” approach.

Time-sensitive offers are one example, encouraging recipients to take action and using retargeting for those who haven’t acted. You can also use rhetoric questions such as “Have you seen this?” messaging and letting them know what they could be “among the first” to see or access something.

Use of Numbers and Lists

Just like with a blog or guide, numbers and lists can be a really compelling example of clickbait.

For example, “Top 3 places to visit in XXX”

Or “5 Ways to Write a Great Subject Line”

Ask Questions

Questions are a good way to provoke thought and appear conversational in a subject line.

It’s a more informal way of introducing a topic and making the recipient feel as if you are talking to them. A particularly good way of doing this is by highlighting interests or issues that a recipient might be having.

Avoid Spam Triggers and Other Obstacles

Did you know that a subject line that’s all in capitals does not stand out but rather appears as spam?

Similarly, if you opt for the question technique then do not follow your question up with a statement and an exclamation mark - as this reads to the email serve as disingenuous.

Words that make excessive promises should also be avoided, as should the overuse of emojis, exclamation marks, and other copy tools. And finally, you need to be sure to clearly define the intention of your email and not be too vague - otherwise you risk pushing reads away by not being clear enough.

Ideally, you want to appear genuine and reputable, as well as interesting to your audience.

Tools and Resources for Optimising Subject Lines

A/B testing is a common technique used in the formation of subject lines, especially where emails are concerned - enabling brands and businesses to try multiple approaches and see which works best.

But aside from that, there are different tools available to help including email scheduling apps like Mailchimp which assess the impact and “spamminess” of subject lines so that you can choose phrases which are engaging but not overdone.

Email Subject Lines for Brands and Businesses

It doesn’t matter how good the email content is unless the subject line is good enough to inspire recipients to open it.

Email marketing is only as good as the open rate - as no other CTAs and actions will be taken unless the email is opened in the first place. That’s why, when it comes to fine-tuning your email marketing strategy, the first and best place to start is with your subject lines.

Our advice is to start with trial and error, be creative with your copy, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the Social Loop team if you’d like a little extra support in crafting effective email marketing campaigns.