Don’t treat your email subject lines like an afterthought. 

Try this exercise: Imagine you’re at a cocktail party or a networking event. Ok, forget the networking event; just imagine the cocktail party.

You scan the room full of people, most of whom you don’t know, looking for a friendly face or, at the very least, someone that intrigues you or feels approachable.

In a room full of 30-people, you jet over to that person with the friendly face, the sexy leather jacket, or the stunning purple hair. 


  • What was it that drew you to that person, out of everyone else in the room? 
  • What captured your attention just enough to want to know more?

Apply the cocktail-party concept to drafting your email subject lines.

Imagine YOUR email in your dream client’s inbox, amongst a hundred other emails. And by the way, great job on making it to their in-box, since so many emails end up in a spam folder. 

Next, analyze your subject line and ask yourself, why would they choose to open yours over the others? For real, ask yourself this question.

If you’ve already been experiencing low open rates, try troubleshooting with these questions about your subject lines: 

  • Does your subject line sound spammy? 
  • Does it lack urgency? 
  • Does it feel impersonal? 
  • Is it just plain old boring (yawn)?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you can improve your open rate on your very next email just by implementing a few simple best practices for subject lines.

Make your Subject Lines Impossible to Resist:

1. Make it Action-Oriented:  

Speak directly to your audience, and encourage them to do something, such as “Register for…” or “Download this…” or “Join us…” These simple action verbs will encourage people to open your emails.

2. Create a Sense of Urgency: 

You’ve seen emails like this before, “Offer ends tonight” or “Hurry, only a limited number of seats are available” or even “Mother’s Day is ONLY 1-week away”. These subject lines contain a sense of urgency, or FOMO, and are more likely to get opened.

3. Avoid Spammy Words or Punctuation:  

The word “FREE” or the use of too much punctuation will likely snag your email into a spam filter that is programmed to pick up on these terms. Your beautifully drafted email with the incredible FREE offer will end up in someone’s spam folder—No Bueno.

4. Make it Personal: 

Use the recipient’s first name if you have it in your database. It might seem corny, but it works to improve open rates.

5. Keep it Short and Sweet: 

9-words, or 60-characters or less, is ideal if you can. Don’t make your recipients work too hard to see why you’re emailing them.

6. Use all Caps and Emojis: 

In moderation! These are good tactics, but less is more. One emoji and one word in all caps is plenty. For example, Hey Toby, get ready to RUMBLE. 

7. Test, Test, Test: 

And also, look at your analytics after each campaign. A broad audience defines best practices, so what works for one company’s emails might not work for yours or vice versa. Constantly check open and click rates and use that data to direct your next test or rollout email.

8. Subject Line Checker: 

While I would not rely on these tools, I do think you can use them as a quick double-check of your subject lines. My current favorite is Net Atlantic Email Subject Line Grader, but there are others.

BONUS Best Practice: 

This is not actually a best practice, but rather 3-words of encouragement. Do. Not. Overthink. Seriously, don’t. Subject lines take time to nail down, and even then, you’re not always gonna get it right. Sorry. So use these best practices, do your best, and tweak for next time. Everything you do in your marketing is about action and course correction, over and over.

Give these subject line tips a try, and let me know how it goes. 

Need some extra help? CONTACT ME today, and let’s jump on a discovery call to chat about where you’re struggling.