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5 Tips for Writing Email Subject Lines that Get Opened [+ Examples]

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

mail app on iphone with two email notifications

As technology develops, many sales professionals and marketers take great joy in jumping on the latest trends. From chatbots and artificial intelligence to influencers and the latest social media platforms, there are now countless ways to reach your potential customers.

Of course, all these methods are great, but a shift of attention to the new leaves a question mark lingering over the old tried and tested methods of promotion such as email marketing.

Does it still work? Is it worth the effort? Will my emails even get opened?

There was a time when email marketing became so saturated that it was difficult to get your message heard amongst the noise. However, as many businesses have now shifted focus towards other methods the opportunity to reach people through their email inbox presents new opportunities.

But simply sending countless emails just isn't going to cut it. Each element of your emails needs to be considered and geared to prompt a response.

Arguably the most important aspect of any sales or marketing email is the subject line. It doesn't matter how well the main body of your email is written if your subject doesn't entice the recipient to open it is, it is never going to get read.

In this article, we walk you through 5 tips for writing email subject lines that will actually get opened.

1. Cut the Marketing Speak

How many generic marketing emails find their way into your inbox every day? I'd guess it's a fair few.

"Get 50% Off Today"

"Our [New Product] Has Just Launched"

"Read Our Latest Newsletter"


It's not to say that these subject lines won't get opened. But the success of these types of subject lines relies heavily on the recipient knowing, trusting and already being highly engaged with your brand. That is why these types of subject lines should be saved for your list of loyal, repeat customers.

Of course, it isn't that customers won't be interested in 50% off, it's just that they have likely already received 5 other emails with exactly the same subject line this week and are now deleting them without a second thought.

We need to cut the marketing speak when writing your email subjects.

Ask yourself which emails you open and which you delete. The ones that grab your attention are likely the emails with subject lines that talk to you on a human level, the ones that don't scream 'PLEASE BUY OUR PRODUCTS'.

2. Get Personal

So, how do we make our email subjects less corporate and more personal?

two women sat at a table having a meeting in front of a large window

The easiest way is to literally be personal. Although simple, the examples below are more likely to get an open and response when compared to subject lines that are considered aggressively 'salesy'...


"Hi [First Name]"

"Morning [First Name]"

"[First Name] - interested?"

Using someone's name in the subject line goes some way to showing the email is specifically for the recipient and not a generic 'send to all' email that was sent in the hope of picking up some business.

Depending on where you have collected your email data from, you may also be able to personalise your email in other ways. For example, if you are trying to secure meetings or new business in a specific geographical location you could use one of the examples below.


"Coffee in Bristol?"

"Marketing agency in Birmingham"

"Are you in London tomorrow?"

When someone spots a piece of personal information in an email subject such as where they live or work, it is unlikely to go unopened.

3. Build Curiosity

Sending great sales and marketing emails is a little bit like dating. You want to build intrigue and curiosity rather than splurging your life story in the first five minutes. Try to write email subjects that grab peoples' attention and makes them want to find out more.

This is commonly achieved is by using the subject line:

"quick question"

This type of subject builds intrigue in what you have to ask. After all, you could be asking if they fancy a free all-expenses-paid holiday to Spain...

Unfortunately, "quick question" is so commonly used that is has lost much of its sparkle and is rarely successful in earning email opens...but the concept is still viable. The below examples could be used to generate curiosity in your email.


"Would this work for you?"

"Have you heard?"

"More profit?"

4. Create Urgency

Nobody really cares about your sales email. The majority of people have far too much stuff going on in their lives to prioritise opening and replying to every unsolicited email they receive.

a mechanical clock counting down time rapidly

Even if you write a pretty great sales email, it will likely only make it into the 'i'll deal with that later' pile....which never actually get dealt with.

That is why it is crucial to develop a sense of urgency with your emails, starting with the subject line. Review the examples below to find inspiration for creating urgency.


"My last email..."

"This Wednesday"

"Final chance..."

5. Name Drop

We all hate the guy that can't help but name drop...

...Terry, nobody cares that you buy your tofu from the same shop at Jamie Oliver...

However, name dropping in your email subject can be a great way to grab someone's attention and get them to read on....but we aren't talking about name dropping celebrities.

Dropping the name of someone the contact knows can help you immediately gain a level of trust. For example, you may mention that you know someone else from their business or that a mutual connection has mentioned their name.

Note: It is crucial to remain honest in your emails, so if you are going to name drop, it is worth asking the persons whose name you are dropping's permission first.


"[Colleague Name] mentioned you..."

"[Connection Name] mentioned I should reach out..."

"Do you know [Colleague Name]?"

Better Subjects = More Sales

It isn't a difficult concept to get your head around. Your emails won't get read if your subject lines don't pack a punch. By understanding what compels people to open an email, you can formulate email subjects that are going to engage recipients and convert them into paying customers.

Which subject lines do you use to increase open success?

You can learn more about how to close sales in our article "Close More Sales with These 11 Compelling Questions"


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