8 Types of Subject Lines that Get Opened

Alexis Gregoriades
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Would you like to increase the rate of email subject lines that get opened? The first thing that readers see is the subject line. They want to see if that email has a personal benefit for them. And if there isn’t, the open rates will be disappointing.

Maybe you have experienced this yourself. After a lot of hard work, you and your team finally write an email to send out to your email list. You were optimistic that this will bring in good results. But unfortunately it didn’t. The open rate was disappointing. Now you have to start all over again.

Many businesses around the world experience this. Most of the time the reason behind this is that the subject line didn’t interest the reader.

Now, you might be thinking, are subject lines really that important? Well yes, they are.

35% of emails get opened and 69% are marked as spam based on the subject line alone” — CoSchedule

Subject lines might contain a few words, but they are the number one factor that affects the open rate. It might be a good idea to spend some time with your team thinking about what subject line to write.

Here are 8 types of subject lines that get opened. When it is time to launch a new email marketing campaign, these will help you get the ideal results.

1. Curiosity

According to a 2015 study from Celeste Kidd and Benjamin Y. Hayden entitled "The Psychology and Neuroscience of Curiosity", a basic part of our human nature is curiosity. Curiosity motivates us to look for and absorb information.

Have you ever wondered as I have, why companies spend billions of dollars to explore other planets? It’s not that they like to waste their resources. A major reason behind this is curiosity.

If curiosity makes such big organizations spend billions of dollars, don’t you think it will be a good technique to use in your subject lines?

By including curiosity in your subject line, it arouses the reader’s interest. The goal here is to reveal as little information as possible. This will motivate the reader to open your emails.

Some examples of subject lines that get opened by arousing curiosity are:

  • “Case Study Reveals One of the Dangers of Over-The-Counter Supplements”

  • “You won’t believe what Kylie Jenner wore at her birthday party”

  • “Elon Musk does this every night before going to bed”

2. Subject Lines that Get Opened Use Reverse Psychology

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve done something, although you were told not to do it?

Don’t read the rest of this article because you won’t find any value in it.

If you are still reading, then you’ve just experienced an example of reverse psychology. As human beings, we don’t like to do the things we are told to. This is a powerful technique you can use to increase the open rate.

Some examples are:

  • “Don’t open this email”

  • “This email won’t interest you”

I have to warn you though. You must use this technique occasionally and ethically. If the readers sense what you’re doing, you’ll ruin your relationship with them.

3. Personalized Subject Lines

SaleCycle shows that personalized subject lines increase the open rate by 82%. That’s a pretty big percentage, don’t you think?

Imagine what an 82% increase in your open rate would do for your business. Not only you will see an increase in your sales, you would be the person that people in your company will admire because of your achievements.

There are many ways you can use personalization in subject lines that get opened. You could simply use the reader’s first name. For example, “John, here is your gift".

Or you could segment your list based on other characteristics. These can be browsing history, location, birthday or purchase history.

Let’s say you own an online book store. One customer of yours purchases only sci-fi books. The next time you have new sci-fi books in stock, wouldn’t this customer find it interesting to receive an email from you about these new books you have now for sale?

Some examples of this type of subject line are:

  • “New, blue suits in stock!”

  • “Have you heard about our event in Chicago?”

  • “Your birthday gift is waiting for you!”

Use these types of lines and you’ll see a significant increase in your subject lines that get opened.

4. Urgency

Alberto Bisin and Kyle Hyndman wrote a study in 2020 entitled "Present-bias, procrastination and deadlines in a field experiment." They define procrastination as the habit of delaying upcoming tasks even when this results in a pointless delay.

It’s in our nature as human beings to delay tasks. We tend to procrastinate and avoid taking action. Only if there is a sense of urgency do we finally get to the decision to complete a task. Now how can you use this technique in your subject line?

You could include a deadline on your offer. Consumers hate it when they miss out on promotions or deals.

This is known as Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). By using this powerful technique, it will increase your subject lines that get opened.

Some examples are:

  • “Only 12 hours left”

  • “Your 50% discount will expire in 2 days”

  • “Doors are Closing”

  • “10 seats left”

Give your readers a reason to open the emails right now. Remember that consumers are procrastinators by nature.

5. News

People love to hear about news. They want to know about the new trends, any events in their area, and political news.

There is one important thing you have to have in mind when you are writing such a subject line. You have to remain relevant to your reader’s demographics.

Let’s say you own a coffee shop and you send an email with a subject line: “Find out about our new coffee flavour”.

Now those who don’t like coffee wouldn’t open that email, right?

Here are some good examples that will increase the rate of subject lines that get opened:

  • “Did you hear the news?”

  • “BREAKING NEWS: Stocks are plummeting, here’s why”

  • “Here are the top 10 Digital Marketing Trends for 2020”

6. Stories

Stories always draw our attention. There is something remarkable in storytelling that gets your audience’s attention immediately.

We love stories. And it’s a powerful way to make a human connection with your readers. Not only that, readers remember stories for a long period of time.

“Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, a story can be invaluable and often creates an emotional relationship or bond that keeps your prospect riveted and listening.” —Joseph Sugarman, legendary copywriter

HubSpot says that your story can be very powerful if it resonates with your readers. By achieving this, you will see a significant increase in your open rates. Of course, you won't be able to include the whole story in the subject line. That’s why you could introduce it, provoke the reader, or have a line of dialogue that is included in the story.

Some examples are:

  • “Dad, what happened?”

  • “My latest trip to Paris”

  • “My first car was an old Mazda 323”

7. Announcements

People will like to hear about any announcements you may have about your business. To make the most out of this technique, you must imply a personal benefit for the reader.

If your business is creating a seminar that your readers will find helpful, then let them know. You could give them a bonus or special price. For example, if you own a clothing store and you are running a promotion, then send them an email. Not only will this increase your open rates, but it will increase your sales as well.

As mentioned before, subject lines that get opened arouse the curiosity of your reader and create a sense of urgency. In this case you are combining multiple techniques into one.

Some examples are:

  • “70% OFF on all our jeans”

  • “2 for 1 ticket to our next event”

  • “Free dessert!”

8. Educational

To establish yourself as an authority, you must provide valuable information to your readers. They will appreciate it and would like to hear from you more. As human beings, we are interested in gaining new knowledge in areas that interest us. That's likely why you are reading this article now, right?

Again, you must make sure that before writing the email, it must be something that will interest your audience.

Your subject line should include what information they will get by reading your email. This will motivate them to open it because they want to know more.

Some examples are:


In summary, if you want emails with subject lines that get opened, include these types of opening lines:

  1. Curiosity

  2. Reverse psychology

  3. Personalization

  4. Urgency

  5. News

  6. Stories

  7. Announcements

  8. Education/useful information

A well-crafted email marketing campaign can bring in massive profits of up to 42% ROI. Since emails are so powerful and can achieve great results, investing in a quality email marketing copywriter is a must.

If you would like to hire a dedicated email marketing copywriter that will help you grow your sales, then speak with us today.

Alexis Gregoriades

Alexis Gregoriades is a Marketing Strategist and Copywriter at Copywriters.com. Since he was a young child, he was always willing to help other people. He now lives his purpose by helping businesses generate more revenue or leads. While writing revenue-generating copy is his primary focus, Alexis also enjoys spending time with his family and reading books.

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