How to get people to open your email – subject headers

Email marketing is a useful tool that small businesses can use to keep their brand in front of their customers/prospects and encourage sales. However, with so many emails being sent and received every day making sure that your email gets opened can be a struggle.

The average consumer receives more than 500 marketing messages each month, yet they open fewer than 1 in 15 (Guy Hanson, Return Path).

We’ve written an earlier blog post on “How to deliver an effective email campaign” with some general email marketing tips and advice. In this blog post we focus on how to get people to open your email by getting your subject header line right.

9 tips for your email subject header line

Avoid sales terms

Words like “free” will trigger spam filters. Common words that are associated with sales, e.g. “help” “percent off” or “reminder” are often ignored.

Don’t CAPITALISE everything

Avoid SHOUTY capitals. Nobody likes being shouted at.

Would I open that?

Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and ask yourself if you would open the email. If not, revise it.


Personalise your message with the recipient’s first name. Research by MailChimp suggests that including a city name is even better.

Keep it short

Your recipient needs to decide very quickly if the email is relevant to them. Keep your subject line to 50 characters or fewer.

Keep it relevant

Make sure your subject line is relevant to your content. People will quickly become annoyed if you keep using headings that are just ‘click bait’.

Use different subject lines

Don’t repeat the same subject line for each campaign. Keep your content fresh.

Test different subject lines

Test different subject lines and see what gets the most opens. Split testing is a good way to go about this.

Use a recognisable ‘from’ name

Use your company or personal name (whichever is most relevant) in the ‘from’ field so subscribers will instantly recognise who the email is from. Generally, a person’s name will generate more email opens.

Have you got any tips that you can add to the list? If so please comment below.

To see an example of an email subject line which caught our attention click here.

You might also be interested in this blog from Econsultancy: “Five external factors that can impact your email campaigns.”

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[…] The email subject is crucial as this is the only thing standing between your email and the trash folder. Read our nine tips on email subject headers. […]

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