Blog > Creative Advice > How to Craft Great Email Subject Lines

Tips for Writing Great Email Subject Lines

September 14, 2023
min read
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We’ve all done it before

And we don’t feel bad about it either. 

Deleting emails with sketchy-looking, overly salesy, and annoying subject lines is just something we do for our sanity. Because really, with everything else going on in your day, who has time to waste reading emails we know we aren’t interested in?

In fact, here are some statistics that probably won’t surprise you.

  • 47% of email recipients decide whether or not to open emails based on subject line alone.
  • 69% of email recipients go as far as reporting email as spam after just reading the subject line.
  • 33% of email recipients open emails because of intriguing subject lines.

What the numbers should be telling you is this: In today’s fast-paced world, ain’t nobody got time to open emails that they don’t care about. 

So, whether you’re a copywriter, an email marketer, or anything in between, today’s blog is going to help you start writing good email subject lines that pique interest, don’t get sent to the spam folder, and help your campaign perform to the best of its ability!

Tips for Writing the Best-Performing Email Subject Lines

A hand holding a light bulb. Here are our tips for writing the best performing email subject lines!

Before we get going with subject lines, remember that it all starts with great content.

Ultimately, if your subject line generates an open, but your content doesn’t generate click-throughs, it means that even though you got a click, your audience doesn’t care about what you’re saying. 

You’ll quickly burn out your list of contacts if that’s the case, so start with great content, then move on to the following tips …

Segment Your List

Before you start any email campaign, do some research into who your target audience is.

Once you have an idea, carefully segment your email list so that your emails are going to recipients who have a higher likelihood of opening them in the first place.

How you separate your recipients is up to you and the research you’ve done, but here are some common ways to split things up:

  • Demographics — Segment by age, gender, location, or any other demographic factors that are relevant to your products or services.
  • Customer Behavior — Have some of your subscribers made past purchases from your eCommerce store? Opened a previous email? Clicked on your links? Visited your website? Left an abandoned cart? Have a segment for each of those groups as well as those who remain inactive.
  • Preferences — Maybe you’ve already polled your subscribers as to what their interests are or how they’d prefer to be contacted. Great! Stick with that!
  • Source — If some of your followers got to you via TikTok and some via an in-person event, you’ll want to tailor your message differently for each.
  • Customer Journey — Meet your customers where they are in their customer journey with emails designed to move them further down your marketing funnel.

Keep these audience segments in mind when you’re crafting your subject line. Think about what would appeal to you and entice you to click instead of ignoring or deleting and do your best to hit the pain points of each segment of your audience.

Create Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency with your subject lines is a great way to get your recipients curious enough to click. 

Subject lines like …

  • Last Chance! Sale Ends at Midnight
  • Don’t Miss Out: Early Bird Registration Closes Soon!
  • Your Free Gift Expires Soon! Act now
  • Flash Sale Starts Now!

See what we mean? We especially find that email subject lines for sales, free gifts, or promotions are always a welcome thing and sure to get you some clicks.

Even if you don't have anything free, it still helps to think of your subject line as a sales pitch to convince the reader to see what’s inside the email. The subject line is how you cleverly market the email content by giving a preview.

Just don’t come off too strong. Using a bunch of exclamation points or USING ALL CAPS IS EXTREMELY ANNOYING AND WILL MOST LIKELY GET YOUR EMAIL DELETED!!!! (See? It looks “spammy.”) In addition, multiple exclamation points can trigger spam filters in Gmail inboxes, which is something you definitely don’t want.

Pique That Curiosity

Sometimes you don’t want to give it all away in your subject line. Your recipient needs to have a reason to want to see the body of the email after all, and a little mystery is a good way to get them one step closer to that CTA.

Subject lines like …

  • What’s the secret strategy behind our success …
  • Your mystery gift is waiting inside!
  • Can you keep a secret?
  • Something big is happening at [your brand]

The trick is to hint at something intriguing or valuable within your email (and you’re not lying, your content is awesome) and motivate your recipients to want to click and find out.

However, be sure that their curiosity is actually sated by opening the email and reading what’s inside. You want to deliver something great, not just trick them into opening and then disappoint. That’s a quick way to the spam filter.

Lead With Your Hand Out

We haven’t done any studies or anything, but we’re fairly certain that roughly 1000% of people enjoy receiving free gifts.

Offering a promotion, a free gift, or a free sample will naturally lead to more people opening your email to see if that prize is worth it to them.

Some examples could be …

  • Claim Your Free Gift Today!
  • Free Event: Your Exclusive Invitation
  • Here’s Your Free Download
  • Limited Time Offer: 50% of Everything in Store
  • Free Samples While Supplies Last

The hope is that the free offer gets them through the door, your content hooks them, and your value convinces them to stay!

Make it Special

Everyone likes to feel special.

So, why not make your emails more special with personalized subject lines using their names or locations? Something that makes it seem as if you’ve taken the time to get to know them.

  • Hey, Joseph! This free gift is for you.
  • Happy birthday, Meghan! Enjoy a 50% coupon for your special day!
  • Texas residents, enjoy free shipping this week!

And don’t forget that exclusivity is a powerful thing too (cough, Apple owners), so why not play to that with subject lines, like:

  • Free download for [your brand] subscribers only!
  • Members-Only Sale: Shop Now for Extra Savings
  • Exclusive Access: Get Your VIP Pass Now
  • BOGO for All Return Customers!

A/B Test Subject Lines

To make sure that your subject lines are doing their job it’s a good idea to monitor them so that you can adjust accordingly.

Use an email platform like HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, or Mailchimp to test various subject lines against each other. The larger your list of contacts, the more variations you can test.

We recommend testing an additional subject line for every 1,000 contacts. So, if you have 2,000 contacts, you can test three subject lines. If you have 3,000 contacts, test four subjects, and so on.

See what’s working and what’s not so you can optimize your strategy and keep seeing results.

Other Subject Line Tips and Tricks

A clipboard with a big orange check. Check off our other email subject line tips to start seeing better results.

While you’re busy finessing your subject line game, here are some additional tips and tricks to help you stay out of the spam folder and get your foot in the door!

  • Use a sender name that doesn’t look like a robot. No one wants to feel like they’ve just carelessly been added to a mass list. Keep your sender name looking professional.
  • Avoid no-reply sender names for the same reason as the one above. Seeing a no-reply sender makes things seem impersonal as if you couldn’t be bothered with replies. And if you don’t care, why should they?
  • Get to the point quickly in your subject line so your text isn’t cut off, especially by mobile devices.
  • Action gets attention. Subject lines with verbs like “Buy, Act, Hurry” are more likely to inspire action.
  • Try compelling questions as your subject lines. Something that would entice your reader to click for the answer.
  • Numbers get attention! Percentages, countdowns, you name it, people like to see it.

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Why Are My Subject Lines So Important, Anyway?

Because a well-crafted subject line grabs the recipient’s attention! They're little previews of what's to come and, done right, get the recipient eager to explore the contents of what's inside. They communicate the value of your email, and, hopefully, encourage your recipient to take action and click!

So, if you haven't been paying much attention to the subject lines in the emails you need, perhaps it's time to start! Feel free to use the tips and tricks we've outlined above to refine your email marketing game and boost your or your client's email marketing performance.

Looking for a Creative Outlet?

Are you already an expert email subject line writer?


Looking for a creative outlet to use your email marketing and other copywriting skills

Even better.

Designity is made up of the top 3% of US-based creative talent, including copywriters, email marketers, graphic designers, and more, and we’re always looking for more talent to add to our creative community!

Designity can offer you competitive pay, a consistent workload with fun and interesting clients, and a chance to break free from your desk and work from the comfort of your own home!

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Think you have what it takes to join the community? Why not apply today and put your skills to the test?

We can’t wait to see where your talent takes you!

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Sara, a Designity content writer.
About the author:
Sara Lopez
Sara is a Texas-based copywriter.
Interested in content collaboration? Email at
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