The Art of Writing Subject Lines (With 13 Free Templates)

Writing and sending bulk emails - whether sales emails or newsletters - to your B2B subscribers can be an exercise fraught with frustration if you're not getting the open and conversion rates to make it all worthwhile.

Before you give up or scrap your approach, look at your subject lines. Really examine them.

Your subject lines are often the first impression your subscribers have of you, and the first thing they'll see in their inboxes. Therefore, you should be crafting your subjects with expert precision. After all, subject lines written well convey value, while subjects that fall flat communicate to your audience that your emails are nothing but wasted time.

Plus, 33% of subscribers open emails based on the subject line alone. In fact, get good at subject lines and your subscribers may click on your emails without even looking at the "From" column at all. That's how powerful subject lines can be. Use the following tips and you'll soon be writing subject lines that truly convert.


1. Don't Try to Sell


Many people read their emails first thing in the morning, coffee in hand. The last thing they want is to be sold to with a bold-faced pitch before they've finished their first cup. MailChimp put it best: "When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what's inside, and the worst subject lines sell what's inside."

Do's and Dont's

  • Don''t: Buy the ebook Precision Marketing today for only $23!
  • Do: The ebook Precision Marketing is finally here. Excerpt inside!

email subject lines

2. No Spam


Spam emails are are unwanted emails that outright sell or mislead, much to the frustration of your email recipients. If you send unsolicited sales pitches with enough frequency, your subscribers may mark your emails as spam, which hurts your reputation and limits your exposure.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't: EARN $5K ON YOUR NEXT DEAL!!!!
  • Do: Use this little-known tactic to enhance your next deal

email subject lines


3. Don't recycle


If you find a subject line that works really well, don't think you can use it over and again to the same effect. Treat subject lines like coffee filters. They do the job once, but rarely do you want to use them twice.

What you can do is standardize your subject lines so that your content looks familiar.

For example:

  • [Copywriting Tip#5]: Infusing Headlines with Emotion
  • [Copywriting Tip#6]: Introductory Paragraph Hooks


4. KISS


Keep your subjects short and sweet, with ten words being the maximum.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't: We asked our audience which email template they liked best and this is what they said.
  • Do: 94% of marketers love this email template.

email subject lines

5. Use Action Verbs


Click, Follow, Visit, Build, Grow, Find, Receive, Start, and Download are all action verbs that can get your recipients to act just by mentioning them.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't: Email Template Inside
  • Do: Download our new email template!

email subject lines
email subject lines

6. Leave a Shocking Statistic


People love facts, and the more you can back up your information with hard statistics, the better. By putting a crazy stat right in the headline, you can pique your recipient's interest enough to inspire a click, open, and read.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't: Successful Marketers have read this book.
  • Do: 87% of successful marketers have read this book.

email subject lines
email subject lines

7. Write Clearly


Write like a human being and stay away from confusing language. Also, proofread your subject lines so there are no errors. Your recipients should be able to decipher your subject line at a single glance.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't: Follow Up - Data Appending
  • Do: Follow Up About Appending Your Data


8. Personalize


To improve conversions, email subject lines should always be tailored to the recipient so that it looks like an exclusive message. Personalizing your emails using details like the recipient's name and job title can entice them to sit up and really pay attention.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't: Marketer, here is the information you requested.
  • Do: Mike, you requested information and we've delivered.

email subject lines

Be Straightforward


If you can't think of anything clever or inspiring to say, just state what's in the email. Sometimes, shooting straight from the hip works best.

Do's and Dont's

  • Don't: We need your help (please read)
  • Do: Yes, this is a crowdfunding effort.

email subject lines

9. Go for Emotional Impact


Just like headlines, subject lines should be infused with emotion. That doesn't necessarily mean that your subjects should make your subscribers sad. Quite the opposite. Your subscribers want to know that the content in your emails will improve their lives or otherwise make their situations easier. And if you can give them a little fun and excitement, they'll love you even more.

While it's not easy to create emotion with mere language, emotion is key if you want a boost in opens and conversions.

Your subjects don't have to be profound or inspiring, but you should go for a variety of emotions, such as...


10. Emotional Impact: A Sense of Urgency


You can get your email recipients to act quickly if you convey the message that time is limited. Some tactics that work well are providing a deadline (Hurry, before time runs out!) or tapping into the fear of loss (Get your free seat before times runs out). You can also force your recipient's hand by implying that a negative result will occur if your email is not read and followed (Don't let non-paying clients kill your business!).

Examples of Urgent Subject Lines:

  • The eBook excerpt disappears this Thursday!
  • Tonight only: [Video] How to put your marketing on autopilot
  • The chance to read Mark Cuban's interview ends at MIDNIGHT!

email subject lines
email subject lines
email subject lines

11. Emotional Impact: Curiosity


A little mystery works well in getting recipients to act. You can try the cliffhanger approach, where you don't give everything away (We increased sales ten-fold in three months by using'), or you can start with the end result, leaving readers to want to read the beginning of the story (How did we sell out of our inventory in three months?). Or, you can ask an open-ended question, and one that can only be answered by reading your email content (You asked for it and our new product is finally here).

Examples of Curiosity-Inducing Subject Lines:

  • This investment tip yielded an unexpected windfall! A must-have!
  • Ten bizarre tactics that attract better leads
  • Your sales force may be committing this GRAVE mistake
  • The overlooked social media strategy I almost missed

email subject lines
email subject lines

12. Emotional Impact: Excitement


You can get your recipients pumped-up as they read their emails by using super-charged subject lines, such as those that use strong action verbs...

Example: "Acquire better leads with advice from a marketing expert".

You can also give your reader a sense that your content is exclusive and made for their eyes only...

Example: "News coming soon! don't tell anyone!"

And, of course, you can make your recipients an offer they can't refuse.

Example: "84% of businesses see improvement with this website tweak"

More Subject Line Examples that Inspire Excitement:

  • This one word boosted our conversions by 357%!
  • Be the first to get our new product!
  • You just won a ticket to our next conference!

email subject lines
email subject lines

13. Emotional Impact: Joy


If you can make your recipients feel joy, they'll definitely remember you. You can inspire joy by using humor (I just threw my laptop out the window in frustration), or by giving your recipients an opportunity to do the right thing (Give back by mentoring up and coming marketers).

Examples of Subject Lines that Make People Feel Joy:

  • Want to make $10K/month? This template is life changing.
  • These marketing mistakes will leave you in stitches!
  • Thank you for your support!

email subject lines

Conclusion


Using these tactics, you can increase your open rates and conversions, but don't stop there. Test your subject lines over time to really nail the types that resonate most with your audience. That's how power email marketers operate, and with subject lines like the ones above, you'll be power emailing in no time.

About the Author:

Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, a B2B marketing agency. Ryan helps medium and large brands improve sales and market share by developing integrated marketing experiences distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion.