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What type of subject lines get you to open an email?

ladair's Photo
Posted Nov 13 2009 09:25 PM

One of the biggest challenges in email marketing is getting customers to open the email. What type of subject lines get your attention?

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7 Replies

  senmatrix's Photo
Posted Nov 14 2009 02:33 AM

customer will attract to the subject like =$jackpot$ B) , health tips :unsure: ,girl :D ,astrology :huh: ,some thing relate to (sex) :( .so they read the email
  JustAPilgrim's Photo
Posted Nov 14 2009 08:40 AM

Get right to the point!

1. Product

A. Product ... For you ... Special feature (1-3 words)
Example: Camera for you - sale price

B. Your Health - Easy, effective Exercises

C. Insurance ... Best rates, complete coverage

D. Your retirement ... Best investments to buy

2. Your Identity/Relation

Jim Smith referred me to you

Harvard Sr seeks advice

Your cousin through your g'mother (if you are strangers)
 : Nov 14 2009 09:00 AM
for me it isnt the subject line, it is the "from" line. if I dont know the person I am more than likely not open it. Unless the email comes from an user group mailing list then I will read it.

There is too much spam out there.
+ 2
  MikeH's Photo
Posted Nov 16 2009 03:52 PM

I tend to like subject lines that have some sort of time urgency in them. Like, Need your reply by 6pm est or Need your reply by Friday 9/13. Or last two days to register will work with me too. I tend to look at messages in an urgency order, either urgencies I know of or that the message indicates. The second uber-filter I apply is who is the message from. If I do not know the sender, or know the domain, I will likely get to that message much slower if at all.

I also know what does not work in subject lines. "Transfer large sum of money to your bank," is unfortunately, too frequent, and bogus. Come on, who really replies to these sort of scams?

Those are a couple of my uber-filters on email.
  dpambort's Photo
Posted Nov 16 2009 08:12 PM

The subject header alone will not get me to open an email. I consider "subject", "from", and "to" fields. I am more likely to open an email if the message is addressed to me, is from an entity known to me, AND carries a "subject line" that meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • is topical
  • is clearly meaningful to me and/or to the sender (semantic relevance)
  • states the email's communicative intent
  • is unambiguous about its stated purpose
  • declares the message to be a call to action
  • does not SHOUT (such as overuse of caps, peremptory language)

Furthermore, if the message is from a trusted frequent or periodic sender, messages with a similar topic should have a consistent, recognizable subject if they want to be more likely to get my attention - for example, "Newsletter (Nov 26, 2009)" or "News alert (Nov 26) - re City Council".
  bmclaugh's Photo
Posted Nov 17 2009 05:43 AM

I tend to agree with Mike H. I rarely open an email from someone I don't know. I also find that folks who haven't set their return/reply headers are less reputable. For instance, an email from someone I've never heard of but with a "From" setting of "John Jameson" is far more likely to get a response than the same email with johnjj@gmail.com in their From line. Hardly a reliable indicator, but perhaps at least part of my thought process.

And your subject line should make sense (and, to be clear, not include nonsense like "hot," "deals," or "benefactor"). In fact, it's less about "Does the subject line interest me?" and more about "Does this mail seem to really be written to me?"

Brett McLaughlin
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
"I teach"

email: brett@oreilly.com
phone: 214.771.8758
twitter: @oreillybrett
  simonstl's Photo
Posted Nov 17 2009 08:36 AM

I'm generally much more interested in who sent the message than in the subject line. Most of my filters are by sender or recipient, and only a few have anything to do with subjects.

When I do scan the pile of subject lines in the mail left behind by my filters and spam removal, I'm mostly looking for replies to threads I know I've participated in.

Direct or urgent approaches, especially if they're anything commercial, are the fastest way to the junk bin that I know of. Subject lines that reconnect with the brand they're about have a chance of making it, if I know I care about that brand and said it was okay for them to send mail.