11 Email Subject Line Best Practices (w/ Examples) To Get Better Email Open Rate (2021)

Did you know, an average person receives about 84 emails per day, and only 30% of emails are opened while only 1 in 11 emails gets a click-through. (source)

[clickToTweet tweet=”An average person receives 84 emails/day, and only 30% of emails are opened. Would yours get the attention?” quote=”An average person receives 84 emails/day, and only 30% of emails are opened. Make sure yours get the attention it deserves.”]

Well, that’s a low number, and the competition is fierce. You have to stand out from the crowd to get noticed.
Unopened Emails

As for me, I have 4,946 emails unopened that I never bothered to click. Those are the emails that actually landed in my inbox (and not in spam box) but still stay unopened.

And believe me, I check my inbox twice or thrice every hour.

Let’s just assume you did a lot of hard work, created freebies, and gave away tons of products and collected thousands of subscribers.

You’ve won their trust, and now you can connect with them at any given time.

What’s after that? How would you make sure that maximum of subscribers read what you sent? And if they aren’t, what could be the reason?

In this post, I’ll answer the above question by sharing 11 Email Subject Line Best Practices to get your emails read by masses.

Tips to Bypass Email Spam Filters

But first here are few tips to land your emails to user’s primary folder so that your email actually gets noticed and can be clicked, i.e., better email open rate.

1. Do Not Buy Email Subscribers

If you have a habit of buying emails from other users, then my only suggestion would be to stop emailing them.

Many of these will mostly land in either spam folder or promotion folder, and if by chance it gets delivered in a primary tab, the recipient will flag it as spam.

Even if the 10% of people spammed your email, your future emails would automatically be marked as spam by email filters.

Buying subscribers is a waste of money nowadays.

2. Avoid Promotional Terms

Promotional terms like free, you won, congratulations, cheap, etc. are always under email filter radar.

Emails containing many of these terms will either get delivered in promotion tab or spam box (with little to no scope of getting viewed)

If you’re using the word “very” frequently, here are 201 words to use instead of very to make your writing better.

3. Reduce Number of Images in Email Body

Using too many images of high quality will make your email look like a promotional email.

Try to keep no or 1-2 images at max while writing an email. Insert colorful CTA buttons if you want your email to look fancy.

4. Make it Easy to Unsubscribe

According to CAN-SPAM act of US, every email should have an easy to unsubscribe buttons, failing to which you can be fined as high as $1600 for each email.

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There are few more which you can read on this page by ExpressPigeon.

Now let’s get back to the track and learn how to improve open rate.

11 Email Subject Line Best Practices To Boost Open Rate

Best Email Subject Line Practices for Beginners

Let’s dive in.

1. Get Personal

Have you ever tried calling an unknown person by name? That makes an impact. Instead of greeting your subscribers with robotic terms such as dear, sir/mam, friend, etc. try to greet them by name.

How-To Add Custom Names in Email?

Adding first or the last name is pretty easy, and all you’ve to do is to use a prespecified shortcode. For instance, with MailerLite you can use {$name} to add the user’s name anywhere in subject line or body.

Email Open Rate Boosting Tips

This is an email campaign I sent back in 2016 with only 43 subscribers and got a whopping 51.16% open rate.

Customize your email headlines and address your subscribers with their first name. You would see an increase almost instantly.

MyThemeShop continuously use such emails – “Hi Shafi, Claim Your FREE Copy of the New Magazine WordPress Theme!”

MyThemeShop Custom Email Name

2. Keep Your Title Short

There is a viewing limit of 40 characters for subject line (on smartphones) which mean only the first 40 characters of your subject line will be displayed to the user.

It makes no sense to fill it with filler words and make it a para long if it ain’t gonna be read. Make sure you interest your subscriber to open the email within those 40 characters only.

Neal from Devpost sent me an email titled – “You Can’t Negotiate Culture.”

Email Subject Line Tips

3. Create Sense of Emergency

We, humans, have a tendency to act fast in case of emergencies. Call it a weakness or strength but various e-commerce stores are banking by utilizing this tactic effectively.

For example, look at this product on Amazon.com

Few Products Left on Amazon

It clearly states that there are only 2 products are left which make users instantly buy and check out the product for fear of getting the product of stock.

The same strategy you can use to grab the attention of your readers and force them to open the email.

Something as simple as “Hurry only a few spots left to join” can do wonder. I’ve personally seen good growth in open rates since I started employing this technique.

AWeber sent me this email with the title – “Only 14 days left for this offer.”

Sense of Emergency in email Subject lines

4. Ask Questions

Another fail-proof method to attract your subscribers is to engage them with related questions.

If you’ve published a guide on your blog and want to forward it to your email list, then instead of using post title, use a question that has been answered in the article.

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For example, if you’ve written a guide about “Hiring a car” then an email titled “How to hire a car?” will work better than “Hiring A Car – 2000+ words guide”.

SERPRank made good use of this strategy with the subject line “Want access to your competitors’ Facebook activity? But they missed customizing the name.

Use questions in Subject Lines

5. The Numbers Game

A big list or multiple ways to do a task always entices me more than a single fixed way. And to represent the list, the number system is a must.

Email with subject lines containing numbers will perform better as the receiver will find it more interesting to know the various information in one email.

Harsh Agarwal uses this strategy – “These 3 Tips Will Make You Achieve Blogging Success.”

Use numbers in the email subject line

6. Stay Away from Caps Lock

The most annoying and unprofessional email subject line I can receive is the one written in all caps.

Not only those subject lines look ugly and spammy, but they also are hard to read and takes up a lot of space.

If I ever encounter such emails, the first action is to mark the email as spam. Not only they are hard to look at but also feel like a noob sent it without taking a look back.

What you should do instead is to either capitalize only the first letter of the first word or capitalize the first letter of each word in the subject line. I like to go with the later one.

This is an email I found in my spam folder with the all-caps subject line. You know why it landed there :p

Email Spam Reasons

7. Try A Teaser

Anything that can grab the attention of readers is a plus point for you. And trust me, teaser works like magic.

Reading a teaser gets the user excited and hit that part of human psychology which makes them crave for more information.

If you’re launching a new product or service, then you should try to send out teasers first (similar to what mobile and film industry does) to get the initial batch of supporters/fans.

Flippa sent me this email to give a sneak peek of Amazon FBA coming to it – “Amazon FBA is Coming to Flippa!”

Teasers in Email Subject Line

8. Send A Fresh Report

Although we don’t like to get our results out in public, secretly we all wish to get a report of our past actions and see what we’re up to and how can we improve ourselves.

If you run a product based company that is frequently used by subscribers, then you can send monthly or weekly reports to your customers. It has been proven to work, and you can see almost every affiliate network send reports periodically which includes how the affiliate performed in the given month.

A good example is Grammarly’s weekly writing reports. It includes some words you wrote, what were the repeated mistakes, and compare you with other hard to look users.

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It’s always fun to read such reports and evaluate yourself.

Send weekly email reports

9. Command Your Subscribers

It may sound inappropriate but sometimes commanding works like a charm and is essential to make your readers take action(s).

And subject lines with commands are more likely to get opened. If your email body has a direct call to action, then don’t be afraid to reflect it in the subject line.

BuildBox hit the bull’s eye with this straight-forward email which promotes reader to take action – “Join Us!”

Give commands to Subscribers

10. Have A Unique Style

You aren’t the only one in your niche with a subscriber list. Every competitor of yours knows the importance of email and chances are many mutual subscribers have subscribed to multiple newsletters.

So how do you make your emails stand out?

Being unique would be a good start. When possible add your brand name in the subject line and design your emails with a single color palette.

When the subscriber receives your email, they should instantly recognize you, and if they trust your brand, they will open the email without a second thought.

Let’s assume you’re in the hosting niche and want to compete against big players like BlueHost and SiteGround.

Now to stay unique while sending emails, instead of writing something like –

“We are giving away a 50% discount.”

Transform it into –

“AmazingHost is giving away 50% off on all plans.”

11. Make An Announcement

Announcements are generally made about upcoming events or events that have passed, and you want to share the results.

If you’ve hosted a giveaway in the past, so instead of only emailing the winners, making a subscriber-wide announcement would be a better strategy.

Receiving an announcement makes the user think that they are among the first to know about it, and make them curious to see if they’re the winners.

This email from Sedo is an excellent example of announcement type emails. They mentioned ‘just started’ which made me feel the first to know about it and I quickly went to the site to see if I can get my hands on a good domain name.

The email read “Sedo’s GreatDomains Auction Event has just started!”

Emails with Announcement

Final Words

Don’t sit back and relax after collecting a solid base of subscribers. They are of no use if your emails can’t reach them and if reached stay in the folder without getting opened ever.

I hope these email subject line best practices will give you a helping hand while formatting your email subject lines the next time. If you’ve got anything to share, feel free to comment down below.

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Also, make sure to share this post with your blogger friends who are finding it hard to improve open email rates.

30 thoughts on “11 Email Subject Line Best Practices (w/ Examples) To Get Better Email Open Rate (2021)”

  1. Hi Shafi,
    Big numbers here, A great list of a great blogger. This is another great post on blogging and this post motivated me. It also inspires new bloggers like me. Thanks so much for sending out this information!

  2. Hi Shafi,

    Just checked out your tips here, these are great.

    I must admit I’m not very creative when it comes to email headline titles, that’s something I need to work on and perhaps use numbers also to entice interest.

    Thanks again mate, I picked up a few valuable tips.

  3. Hey Shafi the information you share was amazing and very helpfull also,but i am unable to gain my traffic with emails.can you please help me?Thanks for sharing your great idea to us.

    Md kafilur raheman

    • Hi Kafil,

      You need to collect email subscribers who are genuinely interested in your product or service. Using these email subject lines, you can easily improve CTR but you need to have enticing content as well to improve traffic.

      Feel free to contact me for further help. Keep commenting.

    • Hi Annie,

      There’s no fixed number as such. I prefer limiting emails to maximum of 2 emails/day.

      I use emails only when I’ve something important to share.


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