Ever wondered what the perfect email subject line is?
Spoiler: There isn’t one.
Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, some email headlines are better than others. But until you test headlines with your specific audience and gauge open rates, it’s impossible to tell exactly what will work best.
Sometimes using vague headlines with an air of mystery will lead to more opens. Sometimes being blunt works better. Split testing headlines and testing over time is crucial to improving your open rates, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Here are some email templates & ideas that can get you started in the right direction. Use them as a baseline, and compare variants and your own ideas to see which garner the most interest.
While there are a variety of headline formulas, these have been proven time & time again to convert, so test them in your email marketing to see what works for you:
- Question Subject Lines
- “How” Subject Lines
- Announcement Subject Lines
- Clickbait Subject Lines
- Statistic Subject Lines
- Urgency Subject Lines
- Vague Subject Lines
- Improvement Subject Lines
Using short, obscure questions is often a great way to get people to open your emails to discover what you’re referring to. especially when you utilize The Empty Suitcase technique (more on that in a bit). You can also try using a longer question that has more information, which better prepares them for what the email might be about.
Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How questions are great.
- [Who / What / When / Where / Why] is [noun]?
- [What / Why] were you [verb]?
- How did [name] [drastic action] and [benefit]?
- Where can you find [something hard to attain]?
- Who IS this guy?
- What Were You Thinking?
- How did she fire 80% of her clients and double her revenue?
- Where can you find a better offer?
- When wasn’t this a great idea?
- Is this Crazy?
- Haven’t you heard?
The beauty of these headlines is that they don’t require much thought, but can still be effective.
“How” subject lines are great because they imply that the reader is going to learn something useful (or at least entertaining). Be sure you focus on benefits and value.
- How [Someone Famous or a Nobody] does [Something Awesome]
- How to [Do Something Incredible]
- How to [Achieve Something Amazing] without [Common Pain Point]
- How Bill Gates Spends His Time (and I thought I was lazy!)
- How to land three new clients each week
- How to generate more sales without losing money & wasting time
“New” is exciting. People are always looking for new solutions to their problems. It doesn’t matter if there’s a perfect solution that’s been around for hundreds of years. Just about everyone is guilty of “shiny object syndrome.”
- Introducing: [Product, Person or Company Name]
- Introducing [Name]: [quick, powerful benefit]
- New! [Company Name] Changes the Game Yet Again
- New… [Benefit of new offer without naming the product]
- Introducing OptinCloud
- Introducing RaffleCloud: Create viral giveaways with 5 clicks
- New! QuestionForge
- New… Learn How to Find 1000s of Keywords Your Competition ISN’T Targeting
Clickbait is annoying, sure… but there’s a reason people use it: it works. You see it hundreds of times per week as you scroll through your Facebook feed, browse news websites, or pretty much do anything online. If it wasn’t effective, no one would be utilizing it. Might as well use that kind of power for your own benefit. As long as you deliver inside the email, there’s no real reason you shouldn’t utilize a little clickbait every now and then (though you definitely shouldn’t make it your entire email subject line strategy).
- [Person or pronoun] said it was the [right / wrong / scary] thing to do
- FYI… You should be [doing / seeing / reading] this
- FYI… You shouldn’t waste another second [doing / seeing / reading] this
- [High-value something] for you
- The [superlative] thing to happen to [industry] since…
- In case you haven’t heard
- I messed up
Statistic subject lines are a great way to show some surprising data before a reader even opens the email. However, it’s a good idea to incorporate a question (“why,” “how,” “what,” etc.) at the beginning or end to make the subject more compelling and encourage an open.
Templates (REWRITE):[Percentage] + [surprising topic] [Known entity] is rated as [rating] for [rated thing] [Trendy thing] [percentage change]
Why 72% of Chiropractors are wasting a lot of money each month
Texas is rated the worst of 27 states on 12 COME BACK
33% of Facebook users are turning a blind eye to ads – here’s why
Only [#] [days/hours/weeks] left to [X]
Just [#] [X] left
Last chance to [action]
Get [valuable thing] if you [action] in the next [#] [days/hours/weeks]
(REWRITE) It’s a one, two or three-word subject line. It stands out beautifully among all the long subject lines in an inbox.
- Unsolicited advice
- Half an Hour
- Quick question
- What Joanna needs to do better
- What Copy Hackers needs to remember
- What cat owners need to think about
- What copywriters need to know