Email Subject Lines to Increase Open Rate

We all know email marketing is a great way to generate traffic to your website. It’s also one of the cheapest marketing tools in your arsenal, with conversions being much more likely to come from an email newsletter than a Google or social media ad.


But, if you fail to get the email opens. You fail to get the conversions. How do you get more email opens? Better subject lines… No, seriously.


I’m Natalka 👋 I’m the Digital Marketing Manager at Barista & Co which means I put together all of the email newsletters that go out to our consumer mailing list. I’m also a great person to get in touch with if you’re interested in a collab but I’ll leave that for a separate post.


Our average email open rate is 43.3%, compared to an industry average of 32%. Our average email click rate is 2.55%, compared to an industry average of 1.32%. So without blowing my own trumpet too much (I have to give our graphic designer some credit for building the assets), I’m fairly confident I can help you out when it comes to your email open rates. I’ll throw another post together for clicks… One thing at a time grasshopper.


Your subject line is the first and only opportunity you have to get someone to open your email. Seriously. In 9 words you’ve got to convince the recipient that your content is worth their time. Otherwise, welcome to the junk box.


With your email subject line, there are some key details you need to know before we get into the fun part. Firstly, never go beyond 60 characters. Even this amount will be pushing it on certain mobiles, especially when you’re just glimpsing at an email notification and don’t open your inbox. Less is more so say as much as you can in as few characters as possible. Tops 9 words, but again, less is more.


Secondly, pay attention to the sender information. Klaviyo allows us to change the name of the sender, try and keep this on brand – your brand name is always a good shout but sometimes it calls for something else.


Right, that’s the key details covered, let’s talk about how you can get more people to open your emails by creating killer subject lines.


Be Funny

I say this with caution. Funny is different to everyone, and sometimes brands don’t quite hit the mark which just looks cringy and awful. The trick is knowing your audience. What sort of content do they enjoy? Take a look at previous emails that have had a high open rate and blog posts on your website to see what they’re interacting with… Then try to add a bit of humour in that style.


I’m not even going to try to give examples of what this should look like. I’m known for taking it too far or completely missing the joke altogether. Just don’t be afraid to add a bit of personality to your marketing email subject lines. What would you write if this was an email to your friend? Go with something like that.

Invoke Curiosity

Why do people open emails? They want to know what’s inside.


Your subject line is your only opportunity to invoke enough curiosity that someone will want to open your email. Make them question something about your brand or product. Hint at a USP, offer a sneak peek or provide just enough information to entice your mailing list.


Remember, you only have a maximum of 60 characters to play with so keep it snappy! Here are some great examples of email subject lines that invoke curiosity:  

  • 5 Times You Messed Up This Year
  • There’s Only 1 Thing More Important Than This
  • 56% of People Still Do This


Drive Fear of Missing Out

FOMO is real. It doesn’t matter who your audience is. No one wants to be left out of the fun.


Email subject lines that play on this fact are more likely to be opened by your recipients. Who would want to miss out on an exclusive offer or an inside scoop? If someone gave you the chance to be the first to know about the next big thing, wouldn’t you open that email? Exactly.


With 60 characters, or around 9 words, you can easily create FOMO with one of these email subject lines:

  • Don’t Miss Our Best Deals Ever
  • Save 25%! Offer Ends at Midnight
  • The Coffee Maker Everyone is Talking About


Retarget and Reward

I hate to be the one to say it, but even personalisation is old news now. Everyone’s just gotten used to seeing their name in a subject line. But there’s another way to be super specific, super relevant and keep your audience super engaged. Retargeting.


Using tools like Hubspot or Klaviyo, you can create targeted audience segments based on behavioural patterns. Has someone visited a certain page on your website? Read a blog post? Landed on your website via a social media post? Retarget them… And then reward them.

Let’s take social media as an example. You can create a custom segment of people who have clicked on your Link in Bio on Instagram. If it was me, I’d be a customisable workflow to retarget these people offering some sort of incentive for tagging us in their posts or reels featuring our products.


To increase email open rates, I’d create a subject line that looked something like this:

  • You’ve seen us on Instagram, now claim your free t-shirt 👉
  • Thanks for the Follow! Fancy a Freebie?
  • Instagram’s fun, but let’s get to know each other…

Be Bold

A scary idea. But 100% worth it. Get out of your comfort zone and build a brand personality that is known for pushing the boundaries. When you create this sort of reputation for yourself, your subject lines won’t even matter. But, unfortunately, you’re going to need to use the tactics laid out in this blog to increase the open rate and build awareness anyway.


So let’s start with being bold when it comes to your subject line.


You could straight up call someone out. Test the waters with language. Do something ridiculous. You’ll know how far you can push the limits with your audience. As long as it’s bold enough to leave a lasting impression.


Once again, no examples of this one. We’ve run an offer before using ‘F*CKTEA’ as a discount code, ran around the streets singing and giving out free cookies and now we’re in talks about our biggest and best guerrilla strategy ever. The best thing about being bold? 99.9% of the time it doesn’t cost a penny.