Engage People with Absolutely Awesome Email Subject Lines

You already know that email marketing is one of the most powerful techniques to gain more customers. However, email subject lines alone can be responsible for the success or failure of your marketing campaigns.

If you think that personalizing an email using common methods is enough to get your email noticed, think again. Several factors decide the success of email campaigns, including the time of sending the emails, engaging content, and an appealing CTA.

However, all of these comes into play after the recipients open the email. And to do so, your email subject lines should be attractive enough. If it is not, you will find that your marketing strategy failing in a miserable way.

Awesome Email Subject Line

Lousy email subject lines for your emails is one of the major components of your email. Moreover, it could be the reason for the success or failure of your campaign.

When you send out emails, they must have eye-catching subject lines. It must compel your recipient to open it without having any second thoughts. But what makes a subject line catchy? And what is the purpose of having great email subject lines?

What are “Email Subject Lines”?

Among all the email writing tips you have come across, subject lines hold a unique position. You might use personalization, or provide value, or may invoke urgency, but unless the email subject line is reciprocating the importance of your email, the audience will not engage with it.

Email subject lines are substantially the text that speaks about the intent of the emails sent. It is used to distinguish between the emails from different senders, and assign specific importance accordingly. It also tells the recipient about what the email is about and what he can expect from the sender after opening the mail. Depending on the clarity and the appeal of the email subject lines, a user may or may not decide to engage with the sender of the email.

Why are good “email subject lines” important?

Email is one of the most preferred marketing channels for most of the business. Thus, the inbox of any recipient generally gets cluttered with many promotional emails from multiple companies. Even if the emails land in the mailbox, any recipient may ignore them due to the total number of emails he receives all day long.

Thus, writing appealing email subject lines to make your email stand out from the others is essential. You must also remember that the email subject lines are the primary text that can grab user attention. It helps them to decide whether the email is worth of his time, before actually opening the email.

There are many examples of poor email subject lines. Below is an example of one such subject line that fails to comply with the email subject line best practices.

Poor Email Subject Lines

The email is from some brands selling car insurance to me. If you look at the subject line and sender name, you will find that the sender is “Car Insurance” and subject line speaks about car and bike.

It’s apparent that the email is about savings and security for car and bike but is not specific. Moreover, the message has no deadline, offer, and doesn’t compel the user to take action as it lacks evoking any emotions.

Additionally, if the sender keeps sending these irrelevant emails, the chances are high that  I might unsubscribe or mark it spam very soon.

So how to make sure that the emails you send have a higher probability of engaging your recipient? Remember, your emails should not end up getting ignored, or land up in the spam folder.

Below are a few email subject line examples, and email subject line best practices to help you to write the perfect subject lines that engage your users.

Tips to Engage People with an Awesome subject line:

  • Audience and Goals

Identify your audience and set up a goal before you start sending emails to every subscriber you have. Else, a chunk of your mail will reach the inboxes of people who are least interested in your product/service. Thus you will be losing out on revenue even before you start! Isn’t bad it?

But how do you know who are the right audience? Finding the right audience could be possible when you enrich your email list. Enrichment can help you to find out more about your subscribers and their interests. So, when you send out a marketing email, you would be able to target the exact people who are relevant to the content you include in your emails.


Look at the following email I received a few days back.

Good Email Subject Line

The above email is from “PowerBox.” The sender wants to introduce a new Power Bank, which they have mentioned very explicitly in the subject line. The audience selection is exact too. The sender must have guessed that I could be looking for a good power bank as I could be using multiple mobile devices. So, there is a strong possibility that I will show interest in this product.

Irrelevant Subject line

Now, check out the above subject line. First of all, the selection of the target audience is wrong by the sender. I may have subscribed to their email newsletter long back. However, as I am not a fresher currently, the email is not relevant to me. Also, if they send continuously send such email, I will mark them as spam or unsubscribe from their database.

Secondly, the email subject line doesn’t specify the intent of the mail. The subject line indicates that the email has something to do with “Freshers jobs recruitment in 2017”, but doesn’t specify the kind of job. It is so confusing that I will decide not to open it at all.

Thus marketing campaigns that have similar kind of email subject lines have more chance of failing. You must stay wary of your subject line and the audience you are targeting.

  • Optimizing the word count

Don’t make the email subject lines too lengthy or too small. Long email subject lines will not be able to convey your message clearly and leave the recipient confused. The short subject line will not speak about the content in a proper sense. Optimize your email subject lines’ length as per your audience behavior to get the most from your email campaigns.

Optimizing the email subject lines would also help you to write a great email preheader. Preheader texts can help you to boost the context of the subject line and help you convey more meaning about the mail you send. You can also add preheader text to compliment or amplify the meaning conveyed by the subject line.

You can use the different combination of email subject lines and the email preheader to make your emails irresistible for your subscribers.


Short Email Subject line

If you look at the email from FlamingoTransworld, you will find that the subject line is short as well as to the point. There are no unnecessary words that increase the word count. So the email has a higher chance of making an impression on the recipient as it is clearly explaining what to expect from the email.

Long and Bad Email Subject line

Now compare the subject line of HolidayIQ with that of Flamingo. You can see that the subject line is so lengthy that it has crossed the visual limit of the mail itself. So anyone looking at the email won’t understand what “Chance to make” or why are they missing out.

Bad Email Subject line

Check out this subject line too. This email actually makes no sense as it consists of just a phrase telling us about world disability day. So the meaning is completely lost on the recipient as they will not understand why the sender has sent the email in the first place, so the chances that they will open the email will reduce.

Among several email subject line best practices, optimizing the length of the email is one of the most essential points. If you don’t abide by an optimized length, the audience will be confused about making a decision of opening the email.

  • Invoking urgency or curiosity

Now that you have optimized your target audience and the length of your email subject lines, making them open in your email is the next big challenge. Often, people either overlook an email or just postpone opening it because they want to wait for the “right time.”

Your subscribers receive several emails throughout the day. It is your task to reach out to him and tell him the right time to open your emails. You can generate the feeling of urgency among your subscriber by including a few words in your email subject lines. Your email would appeal more to the subscriber when it is urgent and will compel them to open it sooner.


Look at the following images and tell me which one appeals to you more?

Invoking urgency In Email Subject Line

The above image speaks about some travel deal which will expire the same day, and the sender is offering it to you at $17 only. The picture below talks about a better offer – about a free vacation that you might win. Which email are you tempted to open?

Poor Email Subject Line

I am sure, most of you will open the first one sooner than the second one. If you are planning a vacation, choosing between an offer that ends on the same day and checking out a proposal, which may or may not get you a free holiday is easy. The first email includes a phrase that invokes the sense of urgency. It acts as the ultimate push for the recipient to check out the email, which is missing in the second email.

  • Value propositions

When you receive an email, how do you know that it is an essential communication from a trusted source, that you can interact? We interact with any promotional mail mostly because of the value proposed by it. And the first thing you see is the email subject line. If the email subject lines don’t give you any indication of some value in the email, most of the time we tend to avoid it entirely.

So when you strategize your email campaign, make sure to include some value proposition in the email subject lines. Otherwise, it will fail to generate any interest among your receiver, thus affecting the open rates.


Look at the following images to get a clearer idea of how value proposition changes the appeal of an email.

Interactive Email Subject Line

The email from Health Insurance Plan asks about which insurance plans will suit me. Now when I look for a health insurance plan, I will be researching it on the internet for some reasonable offers that will suit me. I will definitely be interested in opening an email that provides me with some affordable offer.

However, sending an email that asks me which Health Insurance plan suits me will definitely not arouse my curiosity. If I know which plan suits me, I can buy it myself without interacting with anyone. So the value proposition is missing from the above image.

Effective Email Subject Line

This email from Agoda has proposed a specific value to me. It says that if I book a hotel now, then I have to pay half of the original cost. So, I will be really interested in checking out the offer that gives me a waiver by opening the email.

Thus, even a small proposal in the email subject lines compel a recipient to open the mail. This is true especially for people looking for similar suggestions on the internet but is yet to make up their mind.

You can adapt something like what Agoda did with their subject line. Including clear value proposition in your email subject lines would boost up your open rates quickly.

  • Personalize

When you write the email subject lines for connecting with your old subscribers, personalization can work wonders. However, do not address your subscriber as “dear subscriber,” or “dear user.”

Take some time to write an email with the person’s name on it. It will make them feel that you care for them and want to send them something that you trust. Moreover, calling someone by his/her name always make them attentive towards you, or your email.

Additionally, write the email subject lines in such a manner that it resonates with the subscribers instantly. Personalizing helps your subscribers to identify you. So if you do it right, they will readily engage with your emails.


Personalized Email Subject Line

The email from eBay uses my name to inform me that I might be missing out on some finds. It will definitely force me to think about what are the discoveries, maybe even for a split second.

Email Subject Line Img

The “Target Gift Card” email says that “your name” has been selected but mentions no name at all. Immediately you will perceive that the email might be some kind of lure, which speaks about a gift card on your name but if it is so why does it not know your name. Eventually, people tend to avoid these kinds of emails.

So when you write your emails, don’t use these type of vague addressing to people as they will eventually lose trust in your brand and your email open rates will decrease.

  • Words and phrases that you should avoid

Even though your email subject lines are stunning and look impressive with one or all the above points optimized for best engagement, the email service providers always have a hawk’s eye on all your activities all the time.

ESPs monitor the content all the time and filters them to give their users a better spam free email experience. So, if your email contains spam words, immediately the service providers get alerted, and they push your emails into the spam folder.

So while writing email subject lines, research thoroughly to weed out the likely spam words or phrases that might get you in trouble. The following example taken from my spam folder could help you to understand what the spam emails look like.


Words to avoid in Email Subject LineAs you can see that the email has no specific reason to be in the spam folder. Still, somehow it landed in that folder. Of course, there could be other reason that could have resulted in putting the email in the spam folder automatically.

Since the ESPs are very secretive about the exact factors or reasons for considering an email as spam, you should maintain caution from your end. While writing a subject line, you must know about the spam keywords at least so that the chances that you’ll end up in spam folder reduces. Here is the list of keywords that triggers the email spam filters, which you must avoid. Go through the list before you draft the content.

  • Emojis, emoticons & others in email subject lines

Using emojis and emoticons in the subject line is now a trend. But before you try to do something similar to it, you must remember that adding these elements may even backfire on you. If your email subject lines contain an emoticon which is not much relevant to the email, people will see it as a distraction and will not open the email.


Bad Email Subject line

This email from Foodpanda has an emoji in their subject line, the symbol is not clear enough. So the sentence read: “Please don’t go, we ___ you” where the ___ stands for the emoticon. The recipient will be confused about “we ‘what’ you.”

Emojis in email subject lines

Flipkart, on the other hand, uses emoticons too. But after writing the word – “Top offers” they have inserted much more relevant icons of a few gift-wrapped boxes. Naturally, the trust and confidence of the recipient will be much more on seeing this email.

Similar things can happen if you use too many symbols or Capital letter. Look at the difference between the email with Capital letters and symbols in it, and the one without any of these.

Capital letters in Email Subject Line

This email might be really helpful but look at the subject line. It’s written in all capital. Gradually I will start staying away from these emails as the subject line seems cluttered in all capital text.

Eye soothing Email Subject Line

Now if you get another offer from another emailer, saying similar things but writing them in an eye-soothing manner, you might take a peep inside the email as your trust on the sender increases.

So refrain from any capitals or symbol that makes the email subject lines look cluttered. You must put forward your authority and trustworthiness in front of the subscriber to get better results.

Your turn!

When you send an email to your subscribers, you are actually communicating with them, and the quality of any communication depends on the mutual trust, value addition, and getting personal.

Your email must engage them as much as possible to get maximum engagement. Otherwise, anything you send will end up in no-confidence from your subscriber, which calls for lesser open rates, and subscribers losing interest in you.

Did you optimize your email subject lines to boost email open rates? Let me know in the comments section.

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Sandip Acharyya

A former metallurgical engineer, Sandip switched to be a digital marketer and writer. In Way2Online, he authors in-depth guides and articles that tell about the various digital marketing techniques, to help entrepreneurs and marketers to grow and improve their business. He likes to spend his leisure by reading books, watching movies, and making music.

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