Best Tips to Write Irresistible Email Subject Lines

Ioana Dulcu
Published in
7 min readFeb 21, 2020


email inbox illustration

When you invest your time and money into producing quality content for your email newsletters, don’t forget the subject lines. All that hard work will be for nothing if your subscribers don’t open your emails.

Turns out, your subject line is the single most important factor that determines whether your subscriber opens your email — or reports it as spam. As the email experts at AWeber point out, 47 percent of all your recipients will click “open” based on your subject line alone.

  • Not the sender
  • Not the topic alone
  • Not even the time of day

If you can grab their attention with an irresistible subject line, they’ll open your email no matter what time of day it is — or what it’s about. But, if your subject line looks just like the other 1,000 in your inbox, they’ll likely send it to their spam folder. Seventy percent more likely, according to CoSchedule.

The good news? Done right, emails have a higher return on your investment than almost any other marketing strategy. For every dollar you invest, you can get about $38 in return.

If only they open your emails, that is. Here are seven strategies for irresistible subject lines that will increase your email open rate.

1. Personalize It

Everyone loves to read their name in print. That’s even truer when it comes to email subject lines.

But, don’t just take our word for it. According to email automation company Campaign Monitor, when you personalize your emails’ subject lines, you’ll likely have a 26 percent higher open rate and six times the transaction rate. When you segment your subscriber list by goals, needs, and demographics, you’ll likely see a 760 percent increase in your revenue, with a 20 percent rise in sales, research shows.

Use those touchpoints (customer needs, etc.) in your subject line, and you’ll earn potential customers’ attention — and their business. When you personalize everything from the subject line to the content, your emails will speak to your customers’ interests and needs. After all, that’s what content marketing is all about — helping potential customers solve their problems.

2. Appeal to Their Self-Interest

If you segment your subscriber list, you can vary your subject lines by the specific problems your content can solve for them. For instance, let’s say you sell tickets to concerts. Your target customers might include boy-band-crazy tween girls, male Gen X hard rock and metal fans, and businesspeople of both genders who attend classical concerts and buy tickets for their clients.

You want them to get their tickets early so your headliners can play to sold-out crowds. It’s all about the buzz, right?

Three diverse groups — all three, your potential top revenue sources. Appeal to each of their interests, and you’ll get their attention.

If you segment your newsletter subscriber list, your subject line for each could include:

  • For tween girls: Jess, Grab Your Tix Now for BTS 2020 Concerts
  • For Gen X rockers: Metallica’s Coming to Your Town, Dave — Got Tickets Yet?
  • For classical music fans: Get Group Discounts on CLE Orchestra’s 2020–2021 Season Now, Kelly

Whatever your industry, channel your creativity to appeal to the interests of each of your customer segments for a better open rate.

3. Leverage Their FOMO to Get More Clickthroughs

FOMO, the industry acronym for the “fear of missing out,” is a powerful emotional driver that you can leverage to get your subscribers to open your email and click through to your newsletter itself. The FOMO strategy is especially effective with millennials since over two-thirds of this cohort experiences FOMO when they believe they might miss an event that their friends are going to.

It’s not just millennials, though. Even businesses don’t want to get left behind their competition. In today’s highly competitive business environment, getting behind can translate to going out of business down the road.

So, a subject line like “Don’t Let the Digital Transformation Pass You By” or “Your Friends Are Shopping Sephora on Black Friday — How About You?” can put this powerful emotion to work for your business.

4. Get Them to Visualize Their Future

As’s Nico Moreno shows, there’s nothing like asking a question that asks your subscribers to take a peek into the future. When you do that, their minds begin to wonder about how they can realize their dreams for a more successful future.

When their minds shift toward their future — not just a nebulous “someday,” they naturally will want to click on the subject line to see what you have to offer to make that future a better one for themselves and their families.

A powerful subject line such as “Where Will Your Business Be When the Digital Transformation Happens?” or “Where Are Your Kids Headed after High School?” allows businesses and individuals alike to learn how they can prepare for a better future.

5. Inspire Your Subscribers with Positive Vibes

There’s nothing like good vibes to make your recipients want to open your email. Who doesn’t want a better life? Allow them to see what wonders can await them when they click on your subject line to read your newsletter.

Subject lines such as “For Your Office, a Silent Space to Innovate” and “Imagine Yourself at the Top of Google Search” allow recipients to envision how life will be when they conquer their challenges. Of course, they’ll want to experience these positive feelings in reality, as well as in their imagination — so they’ll be more likely to want to read about how they can do just that.

6. Use the “If…Then…” Formula for More Opens

Since Aristotle’s time — and probably even before that — the simple logic of the “if…then…” formula has spurred people to consider new ideas. Besides, these statements’ appeal stems from the very way the human brain is “wired.”

When you can reduce a dilemma down to a yes or no decision, it makes it easier for people to take action. Put this time-tested formula in a subject line tied into your recipients’ problems, and you’re likely to trigger more opens.

There’s another example, “If you have a website, you need this tool,” that gets to the heart of the matter — what a company needs to optimize its website to bring in more revenue and brand awareness. That same formula works well, whatever your industry.

For example, if a ballet studio wanted to attract dance-phobic athletes to its cross-training class, it could use the subject line “If you want to up your game, you need to learn to dance around your opponents.”

A tech company could spur interest in its AI-generated suggestions for e-commerce with this line: “If you want to cross-sell more customers, you need today’s AI.”

You get the picture. It doesn’t take a Madison Avenue ad agency to create a great “if…then…” subject line. All you need to do is to fill in the blanks with the need and the benefits.

7. Capture More Opens with Freebies

Back in the day, spam filters used to filter out the word “free.” That, however, isn’t the case today, as Patel affirms.

Use your subscribers’ love of freebies (who doesn’t love them?) to motivate them to open your emails. Whether it’s a link to an e-book or white paper at the end of your newsletter or a discount on your online piano lessons, channel your recipients’ inner bargain hunter to get more opens.

With these irresistible subject lines to pique your recipients’ interest, you’ll soon see your open rates soar. If you want to get those high open rates working for you to drive extra revenue, you need to include a few native ads within the body of your email newsletter.

These article-like ads promote products and services that complement your own, so they have a natural appeal to your newsletter subscribers. Every time one of your subscribers clicks on one of those ads, you receive a payment.

Over time, those payments can help you monetize your email newsletter, allowing you to create even more compelling content. If you’d like to explore how to monetize your email newsletters, let’s talk.



Ioana Dulcu

Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist | Ex-marketing and communications professional