Writing Email Subject Lines

Writing Email Subject Lines

When you drop your email into someone's inbox. It's the email subject line that will get a reader's attention first and get them to open the email and read it.

Context matters, for some people the email subject doesn't matter, that's because they have already built their brand, readers know what's in the email and they are happy to read what the person has to say.

But if like me, you are nowhere near that point in the journey then it can really help to put a bit of thought into the subject line. Keep in mind what your goal is.  

People are busy, their email inbox is probably full of emails, so having a good subject can help get them to click into the email. There are different styles you can use for an email subject. It can depend on your own personal style or branding.

The Value Subject Line

You can just go for the point, share the value in the subject line. So the reader understands what the email is about.

For example:

  • Use Reddit to validate your product.
  • A helpful guide to writing email subjects.
  • Using Makerlog to ship my new product.

In each case, I'm telling the reader what they can expect in this email.

The value subject works great once you build trust. Don't put something in the subject and then pull the rug from under the reader. This is how you go from inbox to spam.

The Curiosity Subject Line

This is on the other side of the coin from the value. You are trying to lure the reader into opening the email because they want to know more, or learn more. (Warning: before we continue, there is a fine line between clickbait subjects and curiosity subjects, it's the last section I promise)

If we take our examples above and turn them from Value subjects to Curiosity subject lines

  • How I used Reddit to validate my product.
  • Writing email subject lines is tricky, here's how I do it.
  • Makerlog helped me ship my new product faster.

It's a small tweak but each of them changes the reader's perspective on what they are about to read and triggers a bit of curiosity.

The Clickbait Subject Line

Clickbait's main purpose is to attract attention and clicks. But keep in mind so many people are doing it, which means it isn't as effective as it used to be and much harder to stand out. We all know what they look like,

  • How I succeeded on Reddit.
  • I wrote email subject lines like this for 10 days
  • I used makerlog for 100 days and you will never guess what happened.

Our three examples now have a bit added that may or may not have anything to do with the email or something removed that I had earlier you can only find out what once you open the email.

And then there is the "you will never guess what happened"

Finding Subject Lines

I do have a process for finding a subject line for an email newsletter, I use the same thing for blog posts too.

First I write down 10 (or more sometimes) ideas for subject lines, those I play around with between curiosity and value. I then start to narrow in on a few I like.

I also tend to lean towards the value. I want readers to know what they are going to get from the post or email they are about to read.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different subjects, keep an eye on your engagement rates and see which subject lines click with your readers. It's different for everyone and context really does matter. What someone says works for them might not work for you so don't be afraid to take a bit of what they say and try it out.

Thank you for reading. I hope this helped you with writing subject lines.

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James Kenny

James Kenny

Writing about email marketing and building things on the internet. In between brewing coffee and taking photographs, sometimes just photo's of brewing coffee.