There’s both an art and a science to writing compelling email subject lines that not only get your readers to open your emails but to take action after they open.
It does no good to you or your business if you get high open rates, but minuscule click rates on your email campaigns if your goal is to increase engagement, generate page views, or drive revenue. Yet, email marketing is something that many businesses and entrepreneurs continue to struggle with despite a wealth of readily available resources and best practices on this topic.
It can be incredibly difficult to capture the attention of your readers on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. I’ve found that a major factor in being successful with email marketing, is to simply put yourself in front of your readers with frequency and reliability. For example, when your readers can expect a weekly email newsletter from you every Wednesday morning before they head to work, you’ll be much more likely to retain high email engagement in the long run. They’ll know what to expect, and when to expect it.
A couple of years ago, I learned this lesson the hard way.
I wasn’t keeping in regular contact with my community, and the infrequent email I’d send every couple of months would quickly generate a lot of unsubscribes. There are so many distractions and alternative resources of information today, that people will very quickly forget who you are and how you can help them – unless you stay top of mind with your content.
Regardless of how creative your subject lines are, if you’re not keeping in regular contact with your email lists, you’ll find that your open and click rates will dramatically drop off over time. It’s critical to follow-up with your contacts.
Becoming great at email marketing and crafting great subject lines takes a lot of practice, and requires a very strong understanding of who your readers are, not to mention what sort of device they’re reading your email on (mobile devices like iphones or on a desktop) and what email browser they’re using (Gmail versus outlook).
According to MailChimp’s exhaustive study, the average open rate for finance or business emails is at 21.64% with an average click rate of 2.90%.
That’s pretty low, right?
Let’s say you have 1,000 subscribers on your email list. Only 217 of them are opening your emails, just 29 are clicking on anything, and significantly less are taking further action (or purchasing anything) on your site.
How your email subscribers perform over time can have a lot to do with the type of business you’re in, your branding, personal style, and countless other factors. However, if you continue to email your readers with the same type of messaging, dry subject lines, or send only transactional offers, they’re going to quickly get bored with your emails.
With my own personal email campaigns, I typically see open rates in the low 40% range and click rates above 10% with a total community of under 10,000 readers today.
I’m able to achieve well above average email engagement and higher open rates with my community for many different reasons, one of which is certainly my use of clever subject lines that I know my audience will be interested in. Beyond just the subject line and copy of the email, I always offer more in-depth content for them to click through and read, in order to deliver more value. My recent post on the 65 best ideas for side businesses was by far the highest performing email campaign because the email copy delivered directly on the topic point I knew my readers wanted to learn more about.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about email marketing from several entrepreneurs and marketing experts who’ve been perfecting their craft much longer than myself. One of them is April Bowles-Olin, who recently taught a class on How to Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing here on CreativeLive.
In this video, April shares her 4 best strategies for writing email subject lines that’ll stand out in a crowded inbox.
One of my favorite pieces of advice April urges you to do before sending an email campaign, is to email yourself a test and see how the subject line compares with all of the other marketing emails sitting in your inbox.
Would you click on your email? Does it offer something more compelling than all the other emails sitting in your inbox? How does reading your subject line make you feel?
Asking yourself these questions will help you judge whether or not your subject line is going to be an effective way to win over your audience.
Beyond that, April gives her 4 top tips on how to write the best email subject lines that’ll drive more engagement with your community. Here they are:
1. Make a Promise: Here’s an example, “You’ll Double Your Blog Readership with These 10 Tips.”
2. Highlight a Benefit: Here’s an example, “Learn to Write a Headline Your Twitter Followers Actually Click.”
3. Appeal to Your Reader’s Emotions: Here’s an example, “Why I Gave Up Thousands of Blog Readers and Started Over.”
4. Appeal to Your Reader’s Curiosity: Here’s an example, “The Reason No One Comments on Your Blog Posts.”
All of these email subject line examples tug at different core desires and peak my interest. Check out April’s class on Doubling Your Followers and get more of her marketing tools on not just building your audience, but driving meaningful engagement within your community.
To give you some more insight into exactly what makes a good email subject line, what better way to do so, than to examine real-life examples that have been used by the best email marketers in the world?
Are you tired of trying to keep up with the hot new trends in marketing? Get the skills you need to build a solid marketing plan from marketing expert Tara Gentile–without spinning your wheels! Learn more.
Thankfully, Matt Stack of Local Client Takeover already compiled a massive list of 540 Email Subject Lines from Successful Email Marketers. Matt spent a full year collecting emails from Derek Halpern, Neil Patel, Ryan Deiss, Gary Vaynerchuk, CopyBlogger, and analyzing how they go about writing email subject lines.
From Matt’s list, I chose 171 of the best email subject lines and listed them below.
But first, some very interesting trends to take note of:
- “How to” appeared 49 times in the original master list.
- “Your” appeared 90 times in the original master list.
- “You” appeared 83 times in the original master list.
- 36 emails had ellipses in them: … or . . .
- Gary Vaynerchuk used emoticons in some of his subject lines.
- Many included specific numbers.
- All caps were used sparingly to emphasize a limited time offer often in a promotional email.
- Exclamation points were not used very frequently.
Here we go:
Social Triggers: Derek Halpern (52 Emails)
7 secrets of wildly successful entrepreneurs
17 reasons why they joined (which matters to you?)
The Proof: 18 people. 18 problems. 18 success stories stories.
How to Get Your First 1,000 Subscribers (new webinar)
How I Got 26,778 Subscribers In 13 Months
The Secret Behind A Seven Figure Online Business
Guarantees boost sales. Here are 39 you can copy and paste
How I Got 4,387 Subscribers In 47 Days
Still need more subscribers?
Am I really the “bad guy?”
7 tips on how to create (and sell) online courses
Why I spent $25,000+ on a web design
Yep. I look ridiculous! It’s on purpose. Here’s why…
Last chance: Yes Engines closes TONIGHT at 11:59PM
97.3% of people said YES
This is a little embarrassing…
What’s a client REALLY worth? (plus Yes Engines reviews)
Get more sales with THIS technique
Yes Engines is now open (but it closes Friday)
Struggling to make more sales? Follow these 2 steps…
Get to Yes: How to Make People Buy
7 deadly sales mistakes (new ebook, no charge)
can you explain THIS to me?
Writing used to be hard. Then I tried this…
How Saying No Will Change Your Life (Plus I’m Hiring 5 People)
ZippyCourses – Last Chance: Get ZippyCourses Before The Price Goes Up
3 secrets for selling online courses (plus the deadline tonight)
5 Steps to Building an Online Course Business
Is this the NEW way to build an email list? Survey says…
The new technology you need to create – and sell – online courses
7 figures selling online courses? YEP!
The Secrets of “Profitable Online Courses”
Enrollment for B-School Opens Today – Read This First
Matt Damon, Why I Hate College, and The Secret to Success
13 ways to convert browsers into buyers
Twelve Million Dollars
Please don’t make this mistake in your business
Got a sec for feedback? (plus I’m hiring)
Automatic Sales: How to Turn Traffic Into Clients
10,000 in 30 days?
The Psychology of Your Customer
Do it once. Use it forever.
Why Businesses Fail
The Secret to Charging $2,500 (or more) Per Hour
Fix one of these “conversion killers” to increase sales today
A horrifying habit (and a big opportunity)
How to Make Sales (The Right Way)
Struggling to make more sales? Follow these 2 simple steps…
I’m PUMPED! Here’s why…
If you sell online courses, open this (if you don’t, burn it with fire)
Surprise! When Selling “More is Better” is Bad Advice
You’ll think I’m crazy…
CopyBlogger (25 Emails)
LAST CHANCE: Discount for Pro Plus All-Theme Pack Ends Today
Get a Massive Discount on the StudioPress All-Theme Pack Before the Price Goes Way Up
LAST DAY: Join The Showrunner Course Before It Closes (and Becomes Recurring)
Time is Running Out to Join The Showrunner Podcasting Course
Get Our Proven, Step-by-Step Podcasting Course (While Registration is Open)
Free Webinar: Build an Email List That Builds Your Business
Webinar for you: Why People Fail When Creating Products
LAST DAY: Get a Free Migration to Better Hosting at a Lower Price
Migrate to Synthesis Free of Charge (Normally $99) This Week Only
Check out the 2015 Small Business Content Marketing Report
LAST CHANCE (90 min left): Then Monthly Billing for Rainmaker is Gone
Reminder: Lock in Monthly Billing for Rainmaker Today (Before It’s Gone)
ONLY TWO HOURS LEFT … Last Chance to Upgrade for $100 Off
REMINDER: Last day to upgrade for $100 off
Upgrade to Authority and save $100 (this week only …)
TWO HOURS LEFT: It’s Your Last Chance to Get Our Big Black Friday Discount
Big Discount Ends Today! 62 Premium WordPress Themes at One Crazy Low Price
Copyblogger’s Black Friday Sale: Save Big on Our Best Products
Only a Few Hours Left: Try Rainmaker for Free and Save Big
What’s Coming in Rainmaker (Don’t Miss Out) …
The Complete Solution for Online Marketers
Last chance to get certified as a content marketer
A proven tool to help writers find more clients
Ends Today: 62 Premium WordPress Themes at One Crazy Low Price
62 Premium WordPress Themes at One Crazy Low Price
Gary Vaynerchuk (15 Emails)
A classic video I want all of you to see (emoticon)
A must watch new movie I just put out on YouTube (emoticon)
Want to be a part of my next book? Open this email (emoticon)
I have four epic brand new videos for you guys (emoticon)
Yesterday’s episode was (emoticon)
Want to see the longest article I’ve ever written? Plus: how I got healthy
New tshirts, a new movie, and episode 100 of #AskGaryVee
Tell me what you want to get out of this email service
Facebook video is blowing up. Have you seen my channel yet??
VIP-only opportunity to test a brand new app I’m working on
Ten of you will get 80% off of my next speaking event in NYC. Hurry!
The #AskGaryVee audio podcast is now live on iTunes!
A new article, a new shirt, and tons of new videos for you
The Deal of a Lifetime on my Biggest NYC Event Yet!
$100 off my biggest event in years, just for my VIPs
Stop spinning your wheels. Get the skills you need to build a solid marketing plan! Learn more from marketing expert Tara Gentile.
Digital Marketer: Ryan Deiss (30 Emails)
Fwd: Start building your list for just $1
$1 trial expiring tonight…
Fwd: $1 trial expiring tonight…
How to Build an Unstoppable Business (2nd Edition)
Should I unsubscribe you?
Am I still welcome in your inbox?
I’ve got a gift for you (sssshhhh it’s a surprise ?)
①⓪① ways to boost email open rates
TRAFFIC (on a “shoestring” budget)
You’re going to miss this?!
Sales ⬆︎, Refunds ⬇︎, Retention ⬆︎
Get started for just $1
[TEST RESULTS] 2,689 leads from “On Site Retargeting”
MAJOR announcement! (big changes at DM)
This has nothing to do with marketing…
5,219% ROI from new traffic source
[48 Hours] Funnel Blueprint closes tomorrow…
Create a buying frenzy with these emails
Steal this campaign…
36,859 blog subscribers in 91 days
Well… this failed miserably
This is embarrassing but…
Do YOU have a brand? (and why branding is “dumb”)
[Test Results] 81% more leads, 38% more sales
This critique gets uncomfortable at times
Free gift for DM subscribers…
Here’s what you’re missing…
1,322,956 free clicks from…
The 6 billion dollar man?
Quicksprout – Neil Patel (49 Emails)
The Complete Guide to Google Penalties (Both Manual and Algorithmic)
28 WordPress Plugins That Increase Profits and Save Time
Be a Better Copywriter: 7 Lessons From 4 Legendary Books
Don’t Get Fooled: 17 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Company
18 Tools for Better Content Creation: Improve Your Writing with Less Effort
A Step by Step Guide to Modern Broken Link Building
The $100,000 Challenge: July Update
The Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing Any Google Penalty
5 Ways to Increase Your Pageviews Per Visitor by 23.52%
28 Browser Extensions That Make an SEO’s Life Easier
How to Cut Your Bounce Rate in Half with Interactive Content
From Beginner to Pro: A Complete Guide to Tripling Your Email Conversion Rate
The $100,000 Challenge: June Update
13 Important Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Blogging
The Day After: 11 Things to Do After You Publish a Post
Why We Like, Comment, and Share on Facebook
How to Get Your Slice of Reddit’s 150 Million Pageviews
Guest-Posting on Steroids: A 4-Step Blueprint That the Top Guest Posters Use
Stop Guessing: Here’s a Social Media Strategy That Works
How KISSmetrics Grew to 793,858 Visitors a Month by Using One Simple Formula
How to Improve Your Facebook’s Organic Reach
10 Ways to Make Your “Most Popular Posts” More Popular
How Blogging Affects Your Bottom Line
7 Tips for Increasing Your Click-Through Rates on Facebook
Why Transparency Is The New Marketing
How to Create The Perfect Social Media Post
How to Build a Million Dollar Business From Your Personal Brand
10 Marketing Predictions You Should Prepare for in 2015
What Are The Best Times to Post on Social Media
How to Keep Your Readers on Your Blog Longer
Don’t Blog Unless You Use These 11 Tools
How Google Crawls and Indexes Web Pages
100 Lessons Learned from 10 Years of Blogging
How a Ferrari Made Me a Million Bucks
The 10 Key Elements of a High Quality Website
How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500
How I Reached 100,000 Visitors with These 7 Rules
How to Write a Great Value Proposition
What I Learned from Fighting a 12-Month-Long Lawsuit
How to Structure a Perfect LinkedIn Profile
How to Structure a Perfect SEO Optimized Page
How to Get 247% More People to Read Your Content
Running out of Topics to Blog about? Follow These 5 Simple Steps
How to Influence Purchasing Decisions
How I Generated $25,000 with 249 Comments
What SEO Used to Be Versus What SEO Is Now
A/B Testing For Beginners: 70 Resources to Get You Started
Should You Repost Your Blog Content on Other Websites? A Data Driven Answer
How to Create Content That Drives Lots of Organic Traffic
The Ultimate Content Marketing Checklist: 40 Questions to Ask Yourself before Publishing Your Next Blog Post
There you have it. Those are the 171 best email subject lines from some of the top email marketing experts in the business.
For more on the strategy of choosing great subject lines and email marketing best practices for your business, join Effective Email Marketing and Double Your Followers here on CreativeLive.
Now, how are you going to shake things up with your emails?