How to: Create highly effective Email Marketing Subject Lines

The Subject Line is key to getting your email opened and engaged with. It’s the first thing your customers see and is critically important. You know this! 

It has to contain a hint of the offer, your brand, a degree of urgency, knowledge and authority, and empathy for your audience’s needs, but fortunately the best subject lines can typically be broken down into five basic strategies.

Strategy #1:  Focus on the Benefit

With this strategy, you focus on the end result your reader wants most.

Meet your readers where they currently live by speaking to their wants, desires, interests and concerns.

Always, always answer their question:  “What’s in it for me?”

An example might be based on “See how easily you can, learn, save, get to grips with……”

Strategy #2:  Be Specific

Set the hook for your readers by hinting at something valuable contained within your email.

If you can, identify your target audience very clearly: industry sector, location, job role, area of interest.

Give a couple of specific details to ground your hint—let them know that you know what you’re talking about.

An example might be “What every xyz ought to know about 123 [something specific you will teach them]’

Strategy #3: Get Relevant

Relevance = useful + timely. Your reader should know this and act on it…right away!

Localisation (mentioning a town//city/county of your target audience is proven to increase opens)

Make reference to an upcoming event, current trends, news items.

Examples: “Want more control over x, y, z, or Your guide to xyz” The formula is to bring up something; a feeling, situation or new development your customer is interested in and then demonstrate you can help with the upcoming event, season or time frame.

Strategy #4: Make It Personal

This works best when you already have a strong, loyal following.

Use your subject line to show readers that you’re on their side, that they are not alone, that you are here to help them.

Hinting at a related story of your own or a known case study will increase their trust in you, and their curiosity to see how you addressed the issue.

Example: “Hi [[FIRST_NAME]], have a look at how we made an xyz difference to abc”

Strategy #5: Call Out a Problem

We all want to make less mistakes, feel confident to overcome challenges, and take risks with more confidence.

This is another strategy that serves to help your readers identify with you, and teases them to open the email and find out how you tackled a problem.

The key to this strategy is integrity. Steer away from scare tactics—you’re here to offer constructive awareness.

Here’s an example of calling out a problem with positivity and integrity: “Here’s how ignoring xyz can hurt your business/bottom line/marketing performance”


There’s an art to crafting irresistible email subject lines and as with any art, practice makes perfect. Try crafting at least five subject lines per campaign before deciding on one and then use the reports to see how each different approach works for you.