Below are 8 subject line formulas to increase your open rate.

This post originally appeared here on campaign monitor. I have summarized the main points below.

  1. Question
    1. Questions get the reader to think about the information and how it applies to their life. This also sparks curiosity if your audience can relate to the question.
    2. Example: Do you check your emails when you first wake up in the morning?
  2. “How to”
    1. An old copywriting saying states “you can’t write a bad headline if it starts with the words ‘How to’.” The reason this works is because it describes the content of the email in detail, so the readers know exactly what they are going to get from opening the email. The key to using the technique is focusing on a benefit for your audience.
    2. Example: How to become a social media rockstar for your company
  3. Scarcity / limited time
    1. Scarcity is a powerful driver of human behavior. When something is in short supply, our fear of missing out kicks in and we are compelled to act. Adding a time or availability limitation encourages readers to act before it’s too late.
    2. Example: Only 2 days left to get 50% off Fast 50 tickets
  4. Big announcement
    1. Using words like “Introducing” and “New” in your subject line gives the reader a feeling that your email contains new, breaking information they haven’t heard yet. These words increase the chance of an email being opened by 9.45% and 3.26% respectively.
      1. Example: Introducing Albany’s 40 Under 40 Honorees
      2. Example: See our new design gallery
  5. Numbers / lists
    1. Using numbers in your email subject lines is a great way to set people’s expectations and provide structure for the email. Always use numbers when possible! In A/B test, number emails even out-perform the ‘how to’ emails. Make sure you consider what numbers you use…  if you are suggesting effort (like ‘5 steps to drop holiday weight’), then using a low number works better as it suggests the process is quicker. If you are providing value (like ‘10 tricks to increase subscribers’) then a high number works better as it increases the perception of value provided.
      1. Example: 30 ways to build your email list
      2. Example: 10 Expert panelists announced for Healthcare Reform.
  6. Curiosity Gap
    1. This described the gap between what we know and what we want to know. When we notice a gap in our knowledge, it produces a feeling of discomfort that compels us to go looking for that piece of missing information. Using this gap in your subject will encourage more readers to open.
    2. Example: This little-known trick will increase your email open rate
    3. Example: 9 out of 10 people are completely wrong about this simple fact
  7. Surprise
    1. Everybody loves a good play on words or a pleasant surprise. Studies show that simple unexpected occurrences light up the pleasure centers of the brain and cause happiness. Whether it’s a clever pun or an unexpected offer that benefits the user, using surprise triggers an emotional response that increases the chance they’ll open your email.
    2. Example: What Elvis Presley can teach you about email marketing
    3. Example: Warning: Unattended items in your cart may be eaten by gnomes
  8. Personalized
    1. We can not do personalized subject lined in Exact Target. If you are sending to a small list from your personal account, you may want to consider this approach (especially if you are addressing a high-up executive).
    2. Example: Paul, thank you for attending 40 Under 40
    3. Example: Jenn, only 2 days left to register for Most Admired CEOs!

Your subject line is the most important thing because this is what catches the reader’s attention and gets them to open the communication. It’s important to put serious thought into this part of the email creation process.

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