Use Creative Subject Lines to Get Your Email Opened

Posted: Aug 13, 2014

Use Creative Subject Lines to Get Your Email Opened

John M. Haddad

As a small business owner, you know that email marketing is a great way to reach your clients.  However, your client’s email inbox is a very crowded place these days.  You have got to stand out in your client’s inbox.

Creating great content that provides real value to your reader is a great place to start, but it won’t make any difference if they never open the email.  You need to hook them first with attention-getting email subject lines, so they will open your messages and get to all that great content.

Here are some suggestions

Call to Action

This type of subject line has a clear “do this” message.  You want to entice your reader to open the message to see what kind of awesomeness awaits them inside.  For example, Orbitz sent out an email with a simple subject line, “Open me. I’m kinda awesome.”  They don’t flower the message, but instead told you exactly what they want you to do while making you chuckle a bit.  After being enticed, you open the email and find it’s an offer to save 15 percent off their best hotel deals.


personlized-emailIf you have captured your client’s contact information, either manually or through a signup form on your website, you have information which can help to personalize your emails.  Placing a reader’s name or other information about him or her in the subject line can either help get your email opened, or it could get you a quick drop into the trash bin. It really depends on how you use the personal information.  In most cases, using their name draws attention that this is an email from someone you might have a business relationship with.  Truly engage recipients by including personalization that addresses a subscriber’s preferences and needs.  Use the data you have on purchase history, demographics, location or customer status to personalize messages and give a more intimate and tailored feel.

For example, if a customer recently made a purchase and you want to offer them a discount in your email, why not capture their attention in the subject line with something like, “Susan, thank your for your purchase with us on August 10th“.  You’ve personalized the message and reflected information they can identify with.

Many email marketing products, like ConstantContact and VerticalResponse give you capability to personalize emails.  If you can’t invest in those products, Microsoft Outlook also has pretty good capability with personalizing emails based on the contact information you have stored.

Exclusive Offers

Try different subject lines that state free shipping, a percentage off, a dollar amount off or other promotional language to see what resonates most with your clients.  For example, “This week only for our subscribers, get 30% off”.  This draws their attention towards a potential bargain.  if you combine this with personalization, you undoubtedly will get your email opened.

How-to / Free Information

how-toEveryone loves free information or “How-To” advice.  Providing useful content that you can tout in your subject line is a powerful way to increase those open rates.  For example, this blog post (as all our other blog posts) is also sent out as an email to our clients.  If our small business owners have struggled with getting emails opened by their subscribers, this email has given them some how-to advice.

For someone in the finance industry, a subject line like, “7 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement” would definitely capture the attention of those in the age 40 and higher demographics.  A health and beauty company with a subject line, “A Key to Great Skin—Easy Tips for Adding Superfoods to Your Diet.” will get that email opened.


No matter what technique above works best for your business, next time you send out an email to your subscribers or your customers, find a way to make your subject line capture their attention.  After all, writing a great email doesn’t do any good if it is never opened!

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About the author

John M. Haddad
John Haddad is the Principal and Owner of Bisinet Technologies, LLC. He has been in the Information Technology (IT) field for over 40 years. Over his career, he has held positions in all aspects of technology … programming, systems analysis, project management, infrastructure support, systems architecture, IT Management and web development. He continues to work with many small businesses and non-profits in the local area to provide technology consultation, web design and cloud solutions.