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The Top Secrets of Catchy Email Subject Lines Discussed

Email Subject Lines

As more and more business owners start their email marketing campaigns, our inboxes are overloaded with advertisements and spam. I don’t know anybody who opens every email he or she receives. And I’m sure neither do you.  

Fortunately, it doesn’t mean people don’t pay attention to mass messages at all. It means not every subject line makes them read the letter.

I’m not exaggerating saying that a good subject line is almost a half the success of your email marketing campaign. Read this post to learn how to create catchy subject lines and avoid popular mistakes.

Things You Should Avoid

To begin with, let me tell you about components which can ruin your subject line irretrievably. Making it too wordy, misleading or vague you give a perfect chance for your email to be…deleted. These are the first features I come up with when recollecting emails I’ll never open:

Caps Lock and Exclamation Marks

First of all, the experience has shown that overuse of capitalized letters and exclamation points in a subject line is a feature of spam email. Surely, you remember such letters which you’ve sent to spam folder:

Subject Line

Secondly, nobody likes to be yelled at. Even a simple sentence written in Caps may look aggressive and irritating. Of course, it’s important for your subject line to stand out, but if you look at your inbox, it’ll be half full of such emails. So, your one won’t simply make an exception.

False Promises

The worst strategy for your email campaign is lying to your customers. It also concerns the text of your subject line. Don’t make false promises, even if they look intriguing and make people open an email. Give information relevant to the content of your email. 

You may ask: ‘Why should I stop doing it if it works?’. Such a method won’t keep on working for a long time. People will remember your emails aren’t that interesting as they seem to be. Consequently, they won’t open your emails anymore, or even unsubscribe.

Long Lines

I mean, those lines which are cut off because of their length and you can’t see the whole subject. If you want to put the entire text of your email into one line, it’s a bad idea. What’s the use of creating a perfect subject line when nobody sees it? 

For example, maximum displayed length for Gmail contains 70 characters, but mobile devices may cut off the line longer than 43 characters (it also depends on the device). Composing a new subject line, make sure it fits for different devices.

Long Subject Lines

Long Subject Lines

‘Heavy’ Constructions

This mistake may arise from the previous one. When trying to shorten your subject line but still save its meaning, you may accidentally create a heavy-handed construction. If people don’t understand your text from the first glance, they won’t try twice.

Using the Wrong Name

Personalization is always a good idea if you don’t mix something up. It’s pretty easy to use the wrong name in your subject line. After such a mistake, to make people read your email isn’t that easy at all.

‘Musts’ of an Engaging Subject Line

Now, when you already know what you shouldn’t do by any means, it’s time to discover what you should do. Here are the keys to creating catchy subject lines and increasing your open rate.


In most cases, you send emails to inform your subscribers of news or innovations they should know about. Mark its importance by adding words ‘now,’ ‘today,’ ‘this week.’ It’ll show it’s worth to read your email as soon as possible to benefit from it. 

Again, it works when your email content demands attention instantly, and it’ll lose its applicability before long. Don’t create a false sense of urgency if the occasion doesn’t call for immediate action. Make sure you don’t look spammy with this method.

Call to Action

It’s the first thing which inspires people to click. Denote action your email content requires from a reader. Use words, such as ‘travel,’ ‘participate,’ ‘discover,’ etc. These words encourage people to open your email as they can envision themselves in the situation you suggest them. 

For clarity, let’s compare these two subject lines: ‘Travel to Spain for 350$ today!’ and

‘Tours to Spain from 350$’. The first subject contains both urgency and call to action, while the second one doesn’t. As a result, the first one looks more engaging.


Many marketers prefer intriguing slogans, such as ‘Open to get shocked,’ and they’re pretty sure it works. Indeed, it does, but not that often. Making your subject line too obscure there’s a risk your email will be sent to a spam folder. 

The best way to avoid it is to denote benefit your subscriber will get from reading an email. Don’t play with curiosity, define the content in your subject line. 

It’s also essential for cases when a person bought your product or signed up on your website. Instead of ‘Thanks for choosing us’ subject line, provide the information people are waiting for. For instance, if you send a password to a new account, your subject line should be ‘Your password is inside!’.

Sense of Self-Importance

Your subscribers should always know they’re a significant part of your community. Show you bother them and their opinion. Make them feel they receive something exclusive, and you’ll witness an open rate increase. 

To practice a bit, think which line would be better: ‘Fill in a service quality questionnaire’ or ‘Improve our service with Your opinion.’


One of the best practices for an engaging subject line is to use a compelling question. It also has something to do with personalization, as you should know what kind of questions your subscribers usually ask. The more topical this question will be, the more chances many people will open your letter to find out what’s the answer. 

It’s very convenient to use Serpstat Search Questions for this purpose. Enter a word characterizing your email subject, and you’ll see the lists of search questions, asked by your target audience on Google.



Let me remind you of the moment when somebody calls another person by your name in the street. Haven’t you ever turned around? The same goes for your inbox. Once you recognize your name in the subject line, you pay attention to it. 

Although you’re already aware of the risk of using the wrong name, it’s still one of the best tactics. According to the Experian study, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. 

Simply add a Name field to the sign-up form on your website and benefit from the personalized subject line.


One more way to show your email isn’t vague is to use quantitative data in the subject line. There works the same principle which works for blog post headlines – number in the title increases a clickthrough rate dramatically. Numbers make people trust your content.

Length and Simplicity

The advice is pretty easy: keep it short and simple. Don’t exceed 45-70 characters depending on devices most of your subscribers use. Keep in mind the fact that mobile devices display no more than 50 characters. 

If the subject line you created isn’t short enough, remove words which matter less, extra details, and adjectives. Always remember your main aim is to create an easy-to-understand subject.

Evaluate Your Subject Line

When your subject line is ready, it’s a good practice to test its quality. You can use such tools as SubjectLine or Send Check It to evaluate it. Just enter your subject line in the field and watch the result.


The Secrets are out…

These were the basics. Your further result depends on your actions. Although this post undoubtedly will help you create great subject lines, it’s not a panacea. Always track your subscribers’ reaction and get ready to change something to fit their preferences.

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Inna Yatsyna

Inna Yatsyna is the Content Marketing Specialist at Serpstat.com an all-in-one SEO platform which consists of five modules: Rank Tracking, Backlink Analysis, SEO-audit, Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis. She follows a passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing growth a big part of her life.

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