• Bryony Pearce

How to write a subject line that gets clicks


The world of email marketing is remarkably noisy. According to research conducted by The Radicati Group, a Technology Market Research Firm, 235.6 billion emails are sent and received worldwide every single day, and that number's only set to increase. 

For you as a marketer, that means there’s an endless stream of emails - both business and personal - to compete with, making the appeal of your subject lines ever-more important. 

If you’re struggling to see the click through rate your campaigns need to succeed, here are a bank of ideas to help give them a boost. 


1. Short and snappy wins

Use as few words as possible, but make sure it still makes sense - the reasons for this are twofold. First of all, you’ve got a finite amount of time to capture people’s attention. And second of all, if your subject line’s too long it’ll truncate. If you’re struggling to know when to stop, aim to keep it within 50 characters.

2. Make it personal

Include personal information - like the recipient’s name or location - in the subject line to make it feel unique. It’s important to only do this if you’re certain your data’s accurate though. If you refer to ‘John’ as ‘Mark’, there’s only one place your email’s going; the trash.

3. Use simple language

People don’t tend to take their time when they’re scanning their inbox. So, don’t make it difficult for them to skim over your subject line. Use simple language that’s easy to understand and gives a clear indication as to what’s inside.

4. Make it actionable

The reason you’re sending the email in the first place is because you have a desired end action in mind, so incorporate that goal into your leading line. For example, if the email’s promoting a special offer, instead of saying ‘Trainers are now 20% off’, you could say ‘Get 20% off your trainers today’.|

5. Create a sense of urgency

If people think something’s about to expire or run out, they’re much more likely to act sooner rather than later. Adding something as simple as ‘ends soon’, ‘act now’ or ‘hurry’ to your subject line can send this message.

That said, it’s important not to overuse this tactic. If you do, it’ll quickly lose its novelty and recipients will stop falling for it full stop.



6. Use numbers

Numbers are mostly used for things like listicles, events, or sample sizes. For example:

  • 8 ways you can save money this summer

  • Join our 2,000 happy clients

  • 200 others are coming to our event.

The use of numbers helps to make your subject line stand out, set expectations, and get straight to the point.

7. Ask a question


Questions draw people in, pique interest, and get them wanting and needing to know the answer. So, for example, if your email exists to promote an article on ‘7 common subject line mistakes’, you could send it with subject line questions like:

  • Are you making these subject line mistakes?

  • How successful are your emails?

  • Do you know where your subject lines are going wrong?

8. Dare to be different

If you don’t want to get lost in a sea of sameness, don’t fall into the trap of being the same. Be bold with your subject lines and don’t be afraid of injecting a bit of humour, sarcasm or strangeness into them.


Want to improve your email campaign success and see your CTR soar? Then let's chat. My details are bryonypearce@yahoo.com or +44 7824 394 237.


Originally published on Hue & Tone.