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Words That Work Like Magic In Your Email Subject Lines!


Opened, read, and clicked; that is what you want out of your email content, right? Despite what you’ve heard, that email you just typed out before your coffee break, is going to be judged solely on the subject line. Frankly, that is the first and only thing your target audience is going to view, or skim, when they hit their inbox.

So, ask yourself, how can do I get them to open my emails if they are only going to be looking at the subject line, and on top of that I can only fit so many words within that subject line? Take a minute and clear your thoughts, no need to rack your brain about something as small as subject line, because we laid out all the best practices to really nail it.

Your marketing emails have a lot of competition within the recipient’s inbox and oftentimes it won’t even get opened, just lost in the clutter -- or even worse, ending up in the spam folder. The most effective way to drive up those open rates, clickthrough rates and lead generation is to stand out from the rest by having compelling, “just-need-to-see-what-this-is-about” subject lines.

To entice your readers, make sure that you are making those subject lines clear and understandable - which might not always be an easy task with limited character space. Avoid long drawn-out subjects lines that could get cut off at the most inopportune part of your sentence. Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer at Wilde Agency, demonstrated how important it is to nail the subject line with limited restate in her Inbound presentation, 10 Human Behavior Hacks That Will Change the Way You Create Email.

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When you start to commence your subject line, be in the state of mind as your audience. Think about how they talk about products and industries similar to yours. Use language that gets them fired up and excited, or prey on their biggest fears and how you can be the solution, these are known as “Eye Magnet” words. They attract the human eye, so put them right up in the front of the subject line. Five magical words to include are:

  • New: The human brain is constantly craving new and novelty, so stimulate this receptor in the brain. Now this doesn’t just include only the word New, utilize the entire family of new words; now, introducing, finally, soon, and discover.
  • Free: There is not one person that can admit they do not get a tinge of excitement when they receive a free item. However, the following words after free, may be triggered as spam words; cash, quote, and save.
  • Their First Name: It follows the principle of liking, that we, as humans, place a strong value on things that remind us of ourselves. We advise to use this sparingly, for important offers, rather than overdoing it only to become intrusive.
  • Shh! It’s a Secret: Don’t you always want to know what others don’t? Your audience is the same way, and can be more persuaded by information that (they believe) is not available to anyone else.
  • ALERT!: Humans are predisposed to be on guard and on the look-out for anything deemed dangerous. Words like alert, alarm, warning, and caution all trigger this response to investigate what could be causing you distress. 

If those are not applicable to your email content, consider implementing the Principle of Scarcity. You can position your message in two separate ways to ensure a fast response, urgency and exclusivity. Create a subject stressing the importance of acting on this deal now, before it is gone or worse someone claimed it before you did. The concept of loss aversion is extremely effective. People as twice as motivated to avoid pain or loss than they are to achieve/gain 2017 05 26 15 21 38

Say you finally land a “yes” response. What’s your game plan to make sure they continue to say “yes” for the long run? The ripple effect of Consistency Principle state that if you get a “yes” response, then you are more likely to receive a second and a third and so on. Once people are committed they remain consistent. Meaning that the first small yes could potentially lead to larger ones. Remind them of their earlier interests. Question them about their goals. This offers incentive that you are interested in helping them achieve their goals. As well as, gives them a spiked interest into what the concerns you have.

Of course, there are going to be some cold prospects, that will need a little extra attention on your part. If you are worried your efforts are going to go unseen because you’re having trouble nail a “gotta-click-on-this” subject line, don’t be! We have listed a few different scenarios to play off for prospects that have gone cold.

  • The Break Up: If it seems like your prospect has fallen of the face of the Earth, make light of the situation and poke fun with a break up themed subject line; “Are you seeing someone else?” or “Where is the love?”
  • Our Next Steps: Use this kind of subject line after the first connection or to re-engage.
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go: End the dead radio silence by putting the ball squarely back in the prospect’s court with a requesting permission to close down their file.

The only way to figure out what is best for your company is testing! So, don’t hesitate to implement new practices to see how your audience reacts to a new style. Let us know what has successfully driven up your open rates in the comments below!

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