Writing Email Subject Lines – 49 Killer Subject Lines That Explode Your Open Rates

Writing email subject lines is kind of like thinking up a “pick up” line to pick up someone you’ve got your eye on across the cocktail party. It’s got to be quick… It’s got to be compelling… It should be at least kinda interesting… … and it should leave the person curiosity what you’re all about. If you’ve done your job, the person “lets you in” so to speak and you continue the conversation seeing where it’ll go from there.

Complacency With Writing Email Subject Lines

You wouldn’t walk up to someone and say something boring like… “I am a really awesome person… wanna get to know me?”.  Lamo. So, why do so many entrepreneurs and marketers get complacent when they’re sending emails to their prospects and customers? Why do they think being boring and all “business-like” = more sales and more engagement? Why do they think they can’t have fun with email marketing? Good question.

email subject line examplesSo, in this post (below) we have a really awesome resource for ya.  It’ll help you get over the complacency when writing email subject lines… it’s a report we finished up called “49 Sexy and Compelling Email Subject Line Swipes”... it’s 49 tested and proven email subject line examplesyou can “swipe” and put to work in your business right away to combat subscriber boredom and complacency ;-) Now, before we dive into that resource… I want to lay some groundwork for you so I’m not just giving you a fish… but teaching you to bait the hook, cast the pole, and reel in the fish too.

Does The Open Rate For My Emails Even Matter?

This is one question I can guarantee some of you are asking in your heads.  Yes, the message, your product, your offer, your marketing, your brand… all of that stuff is really where the high leverage comes.  A terribly crafted offer can kill a product line or business… but of course a subject line on one little email won’t kill a business (most of the time, that is). So, does it matter if you get a bump in your open rate of 10%, 20%, 50%, 80%+? The answer: Maybe… and YES.

When you’re thinking of just one solitary email the answer is maybe.  Of course, usually one email isn’t a make or break.  Industry averages for email open rates vary by industry… and list size… but, in many industries companies are doing well if they get a 15% open rate on any single email broadcast. For one of my companies we average right around 19% right now with a prospect email list of just under 20,000 subscribers. So, whats an extra few percentage points? Well… lets do some calculations:

Email Open Rate Analysis

So, unless you don’t like getting free money for basically no extra work… let’s keep on a rolling to help you write email subject linesmore effectively.

Different Things To Test In Your Email Subject Lines

In a future article we’ll dive into various strategies you can use to increase your email open rates… but, in the end… it’s just a matter at getting a bit better at 2 different things:

  1. Knowing what makes people react (human psychology)
  2. Learning a few simple writing skills

So, some things we like to test in your email subject lines that have made a difference (both increased or decreased open rates) are:

  • Word order – The order you add in the different elements (i.e. – do you put “DOWNLOAD” at the start of the email subject line or the end? Test it. See if it makes a difference. It did for us.  Putting it at the start increased open rate on one test by 35%)
  • Capitals or no capitals?- Do you capitalize the start of each word, only the first word, no words?  Test it.  We’ve found both to make a difference in certain circumstances.  Capitalizing the first letter of every word is more “businessey”… immediately sets the reader on alert they’re talking to a business… not a person.  No caps is more personal… but, may not match your brand or message.  Test it.Here’s some examples:”How To Boost Email Open Rates In 13.4 Seconds (weird strategy)””a very BAD PERSON (video expose)”
    (hat tip to Frank Kern on that one. Great subject line)
    “10 step guide to thinking like a loser”

    See how just the different use of capitals changes the look and feel of the subject line? Try it. Test it.

  • Using Separators- Things like using brackets “[word]” or parenthesis “(word)… or dashes “-”… a series of periods “…” or a mixture.  Sometimes breaking things up helps the reader digest it more quickly. Also, makes it easier for you to have your subject line relay multiple messages immediately.As an example:
    “[DOWNLOAD] 49 Subject Lines Tested and Proven To Work”or…”the first thing I saw when I woke up (ya, not pretty)”In both examples above there’s two parts to the subject line. The main message and what I call the qualifier.  You immediately see there’s a download for you in that email… or in the second example the note in the parentheses piles on the curiosity. Good stuff eh?
  • Subject Line Length- This can be a biggie. We’ve had success with both longer and very short (one word) subject lines.  Just test it. In general, you want to be on the shorter side.Here’s some email subject line examples:”test”
    (we sent that on accident one time, best open rate in a while. Try it :-)
    “[no subject]”
    (that one works great too :-)

Most email marketing systems let you run split tests of your emails.  Our companies run emails through 4 different email marketing systems… and Aweber is our favorite as far as flexibility, great reporting, reliable, great split testing functionality built right in, and deliverability is great. So, if you’re looking for a great email marketing system check out Aweber… it’s the one we’d recommend the highest for anyone with an email list below 100,000 subscribers.

5 Elements That Will Boost Your Email Open Rate

Like I mentioned before, we’ve compiled a report called “49 Sexy and Compelling Email Subject Line Swipes” that you can download for free below by joining our email newsletter list (where you’ll get more free stuff like this :-). In that report you’ll get the actual email subject lines that have been tested and worked like gang busters in various markets.  We go over this in that report as well… but there are 5 elements that we always try to work into our subject lines whenever we can that always give a boost to our open rates.

  • Curiosity – Make the person think, “what the heck, I gotta see what this is about” – Ex: “Why Mic Jaggar is a better golfer than you (ya, sad but true)” (who wouldn’t want to know why Mic Jaggar golfs better than them?)
  • Contradiction – Contradict something they normally hold to be true – Ex: “What I learned from a 1 armed golfer about my slice (video)” (one armed people don’t golf… right? hmmm… I gotta see this)
  • Personality – Talk to them like a close friend rather than a business – Ex: “the house we were looking at” (very personal sounding, then leads into a story in the email)
  • Specifics – Whip out specifics where you can.  Numbers often work great. – Ex: “245 cash buyers in 13.4 seconds (how I found them)” ( I used this in an email, got almost 30% open rate, full 10% over average)
  • Instant Usability – Show them that whatever is in the email will be instant value to them just by opening and reading it. – Ex: “[DOWNLOAD] 49 email subject line swipes you can use” (you instantly see value and want to go download ‘er right now)

As you go through the report and the 49 example email subject line swipes you’ll see all of these at play in the different subject lines.  I’ll write another post that goes more deeply into each of those elements

Alrighty, Get To Work And Test Some Email Subject Lines!

First off, hit me w/ your comments below… and let me know some of your best email subject lines.  We’d love to hear them! To download the “49 Sexy and Compelling Email Subject Line Swipes” report just put in your name and email below and we’ll send it to ya.

Also, many people are wondering about our email formatting tool Email It. You can use it to format your emails to be set widths so your emails don’t come out wide and hard to read.

Enjoy :-)

- Trevor


12 Comments (Click here to leave a comment)

  1. Hi Trevor,
    I also found that adding DOWNLOAD first get way more clicks. I do use the (open now) style at the end as well. I’m going to download your report.


    • trevor

      Hey Franck, thanks for the comment! Ya, we’ve tested both ways… and the funny thing is… we actually tested that same thing to our own lists when we emailed this report out to our different list segments. We tested the “[DOWNLOAD]” at the start vs “(pdf download)” at the end… everything else stayed the same… and doing it at the end on this test crushed doing it at the start by double.

      So, just shows the importance of taking whatever info you learn from other people… and testing them in your own market before you take it as gospel. We’ve tested it in 2 different markets and seen 2 different results… just shows how different prospects and different markets behave differently sometimes.

      Thanks for coming by!

      - Trevor

  2. Bill

    There isn’t a place to get the ebook? No link, no opt in form, nothing. Pretty confusing. How do we get access to this ebook? Thanks

    • trevor

      Hey Bill, thanks for the note! Ya, it looks like this morning the javascript for the opt in form did something weird… but, its back and good to go for ya. Enjoy :-)

  3. Looking forward to getting these Subject Lines. Thanks.

  4. Pingback: Why Order Matters In Your Marketing - The "Bookend Principle"

  5. Hey, Trevor
    These Subject Line swipes are much better than a “box of chocolates”… Great Valentine’s Day present. Thanks!
    Looking forward to putting these little nuggets to work… over and over again.


    • Trevor Mauch

      Ha, thanks Bill! And I agree!

      Let me know your results after get get a chance to give ‘em a try.

      Have a great week!

      - Trevor

  6. Trevor, this has to be one of the best blog posts EVER.
    i have the 49 killer subject lines pdf as my swipe file!
    Thanks man!
    PS. maybe you could write one about how to re-activate old leads and customers :)

    • Trevor Mauch

      Hey Shaqir, thanks for the comments! Ya, great idea on the customer reactivation campaign… I’ve got some good stuff on that.

      Thanks man!

      - Trevor

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