You can have the best email marketing design and content, but if your title suffers then so will your click-through rate. The fact is the first thing subscribers are going to look at is that bait called the subject line. If you’re subject line is tired and lacks imagination or a compelling reason to click, then there’s really no incentive for readers to further pursue your email.

The art of the email marketing subject line is just that – an art. It takes practice and requires just as much of a thoughtful investment as the rest of your email marketing campaign. So if you’re starting out with your email campaigns or if you’re training others, here’s a handy guide to email titles that get clicked on.

Pique Curiosity

Just like with social media posts, content that asks a question tends to have a higher click rate than just content that states a fact. Say, for example, that your email campaign is about the hottest trend of the summer season. Instead of just saying simply that in your subject line, “The hottest trend of the summer season,” try switching it out for “You’ll never guess what the hottest trend of the season is!”

Offer a Quiz

People love quizzes. People love answering questions to things they probably already know the answer to. It’s called self-interest and it almost always gets clicked on. The word quiz in a title definitely piques curiosity, but a quiz also lends to your email marketing strategy. It gives you a concrete idea for at least one of your quarterly campaigns. Your quiz can be designed as a way to cultivate consensus among your audience, helping you find out what their leanings are, what they’re interested in, and what they want to see more of.


This one is all about making an offer. People love stuff. Whether is a free digital download, a mailer or a chance to get something bigger, offering people stuff is another way to appeal to their self-interest. Of course, you have to apply a little bit of wordsmithing when you craft your subject line. The word “free” in there somewhere usually does the trick. You also have to cater to the tone your audience prefers. Some might like enthusiasm in this type of subject line, whereas others might see it as spam. Here’s a good place to run an A/B test to see what type of subject lines your audience drifts toward.

Create Scarcity

Scarcity makes people act. It also appeals to their curiosity, asking them what is it that I need to know, need to act on, or need to get in on. Here you can keep the subject line simple and stick to the urgency of limited time. You can use subject lines like “Time is Running Out” followed by some indication of what the content is about. You can also write “ACT NOW” followed by a similar brief description. For retail, phrases that indicate some sort of countdown always perform really well: “3 Hours Left for the Biggest Online Sale of the Season.”

The rule of thumb for email marketing subject lines is to not think of it as just another email subject line. Rather think of it as a tag or teaser for the email campaign that’s just a click away. You want to appeal to people rather than just inform them. You can also look at your own email behavior and ask yourself which email campaigns you prefer to click on over others. Above all, remember that it’s really about playing with different ideas, running A/B tests to filter audience preferences, and keeping a look out for trending social language that motivates interest.


作者 Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Benchmark Email's Online Marketing Specialist and Small Business Advocate. An Orange County based writer, Shireen specializes in online marketing and public relations. She has written for over 75 publications and has launched nine successful new media campaigns to date. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Denver Post, the Oklahoman and Green Air Radio, among others.