8 Tips for Writing Catchy Email Subject Lines

Catchy email subject lines are key to getting recipients interested in your emails, and ultimately making your email marketing efforts worthwhile. Although a very small part of your message, subject lines are the first impression your emails make on your recipients – so make it count.

Email Marketing | Kanuka Digital

You’ve invested time into perfecting your email copy, linking to products or pages and choosing the best call-to-action – don’t let these efforts go to waste with a poorly written subject line. You’ve great content to share, but if your subject line doesn’t compel people to open it, your content won’t be seen. Hence the importance of crafting catchy email subject lines that encourage recipients to click through.

35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.


With that eye-opening statistic out of the way, let’s look at 8 tips to help you write catchy email subject lines that will get your emails opened!

#1 Keep it short and sweet

Keep your subject lines short, getting to the point quickly and concisely. Long subject lines are ineffective as they will be cut short in recipients inboxes, making only the beginning visible. This has become increasingly important for mobile users with email use on mobile devices ever rising.

“Mobile is preferred nearly 2:1 over webmail with 55% of emails opened on mobile devices.” – Return Path

According to data from Return Path, 65 characters seems to be the optimal length for email subject lines, which is about 15 characters more than the average subject line. Subject lines between 61-70 characters long tend to generate the best read rates. However, most email subject lines are between 41 and 50 characters in length.

Shorter catchy email subject lines performance

#2 Create a sense of urgency

When phrased creatively and strategically, communicating urgency, scarcity or uniqueness in an email subject line can help compel readers to open or click an email.

Using words like “limited” or “today only” can help recipients realise the offer won’t last forever. Thus, urging them to open the email and find out more about the offer.

An abandoned cart email that gives the recipient a discount if they checkout within 24 hours is a great use of urgency. Loyalty schemes that give your most frequent buyers limited time discounts are also effective ways of using urgency to boost email performance.

Some phrases you might use to create a sense of urgency:
“30% off this weekend only”
“24hr sale ends midnight!”
“Limited stock – Get it before its gone!”

#3 Evoke a sense of curiosity in recipients

Subject lines need to be interesting and unique in order to catch a recipient’s attention amongst a cluttered inbox.

Try to steer clear of over-used words or cliche statements. The hook of a good subject line captures attention by incentivising users to learn more by opening the email. By maintaining a sense of mystery, your email has the ability to pique the recipients’ natural curiosity. Because they’re required to open the email to find out more, these types of subject lines can result in higher open rates.

Posing a compelling question in your subject line can also draw readers in. Asking questions you know are relevant to recipients buying personas is another way to pique interest and curiosity. 

For example, you could try the following: “Are you making these 5 common SEO mistakes?” or “Do you know how to get more engagement on Twitter?”

#4 Make it personalised

Now, more than ever, marketers have the data and tools needed to personalise customer experiences. Ensure this data is used to its full potential by creating highly personalised email content. Studies have shown that personalised email content generates higher open rates and click-through rates.

70% of brands don’t use personalisation within their emails. Make sure your business does so that you stand out from the crowd.

Use of personalisation tokens like name or location in subject lines creates a stronger sense of engagement with customers, giving your brand credibility. For example, inserting your customer’s name into the subject line can make someone feel like a valued customer. This, in turn, encourages them to open your email and find out more.

However, personalisation should be used in moderation. If you use name or location personalisation in every email, it won’t have the effect it once did. You should also make sure you have all the data necessary because there is the possibility your subject could show like this… “Unknown User, Your Order Is On It’s Way!”.

#5 Use offers to make recipients feel special 

The psychology of exclusivity is powerful so use it to your advantage. Phrase your subject lines to make recipients feel special and valued. We’re all much more inclined to open emails when there’s an ‘exclusive’ offer or discount mentioned in our inboxes.

When people feel like they’re part of an exclusive group, it can create a sense of belonging. This helps to build loyalty and compels customers to open and convert better on your emails.

A few ideas for phrasing include:

#6 Use Emojis to convey emotions

People’s inboxes often have dozens of emails everyday, making it difficult for your emails to stand out from the rest. Using emojis in your subject lines is a great method to grab attention and get people to open your emails.

56% of brands who use emojis in their email lines had a higher open rate.

Which ones captured your attention first? Probably, those with emojis in the subject line. Proof that emojis are an effective way to hook your audience.

The use of emojis creates contrast in a recipient’s inbox, with colours and shapes that catch the eye. Due to their eye-catching nature, emojis are proven to increase open rates, so be sure to incorporate them into your email strategy!

Emojis can also help to convey more information and emotion with fewer characters. Thus helping to get your message across better, where you’re short on space. Ensure that any emojis used are relevant to your content and appropriate to your audience, in order to boost your email performance.

Tip: Make sure your email subject lines still make sense if the emojis aren’t displayed.

#7 Start with action-oriented verbs

Your subject lines should act as a call-to-action, in that the language used should inspire a person to open your email. Subject lines that open with an action-oriented verb are often a lot more enticing for recipients, making them instantly more clickable. By instilling a sense of urgency or excitement, actionable subject lines inspire readers to click on your email.

For example, the subject line of an email promoting a 2-for-1 dining offer might read “Dine Today – 2-for-1 Main Courses”. A more generic and less actionable subject line might read “2-for-1 Offer on Main Courses”.

#8 A/B test catchy email subject lines

Last but definitely not least – A/B test your subject lines. Often an overlooked Conversion Rate Optimisation tactic, A/B testing allows us to observe how one version of a subject line performs compared to another. 

A/B test catchy email subject lines

Try testing different words and phrases, with or without emojis, question vs statement, use of personalisation, subject line length or any other factor that could make a difference to performance. Measure the results of your tests by comparing open rates, clicks or even conversions to determine which version was most effective.

Implementing A/B tests gives you valuable insight into who your users are and what messaging resonates best with them.

There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ strategy for optimising your subject lines. Therefore, you should continue A/B testing to find out what works best for your audience and business.

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Hopefully now you’ll be able to write more effective and impactful email subject lines. We help deliver email marketing campaigns that convert. Speak to one of our experts today for more information.

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