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Get your marketing emails opened

You may be forgiven for thinking that with social media and blogging so prevalent and popular, and with huge company spending budgets for TV, print and internet advertising, simple email marketing campaigns might be becoming a little ‘old hat’.

But with mobile device usage rapidly increasing and still 85% of people using the internet primarily for checking their email, you’d do best not to overlook the power of the marketing email.

One of our previous blog posts explained how not put your potential readers off, but with busy professionals sometimes receiving over 100 emails in their inboxes every day, how can you ensure that yours is one of those they actually open?

Well, first impressions count. And with marketing email design, that means subject lines. There are several rules to follow (although, like everything else, these can and should be broken effectively from time to time):

Be clear and relevant

Your subject lines should always be clear and succinct so that your reader knows what to expect from your message. The purpose of a subject line is to entice your reader to open the email but also to tell them what’s inside. If the content of your email bears no resemblance to what your subject line promised, your readers will soon wise up to this and stop opening your messages. MailChimp’s advice is that subject lines should ‘tell, not sell’.

Identify yourself

Whilst your readers will be able to see who the message is from in their ‘From’ line, email providers and inboxes are not consistent and so identifying your company within the subject line will ensure that your reader knows who you are and not put the message straight into the ‘Junk’ box.

Target your audience

Sending the right emails to the right people sounds obvious but it’s surprising how many people fail to do this Send personalised email marketing campaigns, not just by inserting your reader’s name into the email (people know this is just an automated field and not real personalisation), but by actually targeting the things that they want and are interested in.

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Be interesting

Whether your subject lines are catchy, persuasive, intriguing or humorous, they need to encourage your reader to click. Think about the type of person you are targeting and what would make them do this. What would make you open the email?

As well as the popular calls-to-action or special offers, some more imaginative ways to create compelling, must-open subject lines are demonstrated in the following examples:

“Top 10 Holiday Picks”

Lists are always popular opens, when well-targeted, and this one is clear and informative; would work well in a spell of particularly dreary winter weather.

“Free WordPress Theme”

Clear and interesting, assuming you’re a WordPress user.

“Is your diet affecting your productivity?”

A question makes the reader think and the use of the second person addresses them directly.

“It’s Ice Cream. It’s Beer. It’s Beer Ice Cream.”

This one’s a real example from UrbanDaddy. It’s both humorous and intriguing.


Just one word is unusual and combined with the ellipsis, strangely compelling.

Finally, it is crucial to avoid spelling or grammatical mistakes, overuse of punctuation marks, too many capital letters (although this can work well when used sparingly) and reliance on words such as ‘FREE’, ‘DISCOUNT’ or ‘BUY NOW’. If your subject line is badly-written and irritating, your reader is likely to suspect that your content will be no better. Attention to high-quality copywriting, on the other hand, will ensure that your readers are happy to open your email and keen to read your message.