How To Write Subject Lines That People Care About Opening


You opened this…whew.

A recent subscriber asked me about how to write subject lines that are more likely to get opened so I thought I’d share my methods.

First of all, “Subject Line Writing” is no different than “Headline Writing.” That said, you can be a little more flexible with your subject lines because you’ve already built up a relationship with the subscriber. Headline writing needs to be a lot more powerful because you’re trying to capture the attention of a random reader on the internet, not somebody who’s already on your list.

Types of Subject Lines

Here are a few different kinds of subject lines you should keep in your back pocket:

  • Intrigue: These subject lines usually involve a question of some sort. If the question is relevant enough to your subscriber, they’ll be more inclined to open the email because they have to know the answer.
  • Mystery: I use mystery subject lines when I’m making a weird analogy. For instance, if you compare two entirely unrelated things, like cooking and playing guitar, and you’re sharing the lessons you learned from one thing and how they apply to the other, you can write a subject line like: “How Does Cooking Help You Become a Better Guitar Player?”
  • Straight Up How-Tos: You can always fall back on the good ol’ how-to subject line. If you know your audience, you know what they want to learn more about. So you simply write an email that teaches them one of those things. I kept things simple for this particular post and wrote a How-To subject line.
  • Lists: Lists are always popular, easy to write, and a great way to crank out content fast. I could’ve formatted this article a little bit differently and just called it 7 Things You Need to Know About Better Performing Subject Lines, for instance.
  • Personalization: If you collect a subscriber’s first name when they sign up to your list, you can use your email software’s personalization feature and use their name in the subject line. I rarely collect first names so I don’t use this that often, but it has its place and can be very powerful. People react to their name, and when they see it in a subject line, it will immediately grab their attention.
  • Emoji: Emojis in subject lines are very popular, especially with large corporations with low open rates that haven’t bothered to create a relationship with their subscriber from the start. If you’ve created a relationship with your reader so that they look forward to your email, they’re not only looking for the fancy glitter in the subject line, they’re also looking for the From Address.  By sprinkling in a bit of color here and there in the subject line, it stands out in the inbox. If you’re known to deliver value of some sort (education or entertainment), you’re more likely to be opened, regardless of whether you use an emoji or not.

Use the Headline Analyzer

A great tool I highly recommend using is the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. It gives you a lot of great, actionable advice to strengthen your headlines.

Although it only likes a few styles of headlines (how-to, question, list), it can still help you analyze what kind of words you should consider using (power words, emotional words) to make your headline/subject line writing even stronger.

Keep in mind that it’s still a robot, so it’s far from perfect when analyzing the actual content of your headline. So it’s on you to make your headlines human.

I hope that sheds some light on how you can use a simple system to always keep cranking out good subject lines.



Keep an eye on the blog tomorrow because I will be announcing something pretty cool that you’ll definitely want to take a look at. More on that later 😉

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