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6 Email Subject Lines that Work

Closeup of male hand using smart phone for reading emails.

Closeup of male hand using smart phone for reading emails.

The competition is tough when it comes to standing out in someone’s inbox. How do your subject lines stack up?

Anyone who’s dabbled in email marketing knows how frustrating it feels to see low open rates on your emails. You spend your valuable time carefully crafting the perfect message and send it out with all the confidence in the world that it will be received and revered by your beloved contacts.

Unfortunately, that’s not always how it goes.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your email is if the subject line isn’t enticing enough for someone to open it in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, constructing a killer subject line is no easy feat. That’s why we’re sharing 6 types of subject lines that have proven to work!

Personalized Subject Lines

Personalizing your subject lines is one of the best email hacks to get the higher open rates that you want to see when checking out your data reports. In fact, according to Campaign Monitor, emails that use personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those that do not.

Why is this?

Because your contacts are human! They want to see their name when you reach out to them. (Don’t we all, after all?) You can easily create subject lines that draw people by appealing to the little bit of vanity that lives inside all of us. The magic lies in personalization tokens.

Personalizing your emails is like whispering each of your contacts’ names, right into their ears. It works.

All jokes aside, personalizing your subject lines with personalization tokens helps you connect with your contacts on a human level. Because, you’re not just a spam machine, you care about your contacts — use their name and make them feel it!


“Do you know what your neighbors paid for their homes?”

No. But I want to. So I’m going to open this email.

Email subject lines that ask a question are useful because they appeal to your readers’ curiosity and create an immediate dialogue. Ask a question that you know your contacts will want the answer to. For example, the subject line in the scenario I started with would appeal to your existing customers. In the body of the email itself you’d include a Market Insight report, that answers the burning question that your readers want to know: what’s the market like?

Bold/Controversial Subject Lines

“Your headlines suck, here’s why…”

If this popped into your inbox, would you ignore it. Probably not. At least I know I wouldn’t.

Controversial statements make headlines in the news because they grab a reader’s attention and may even make them question a “truth” they’ve never thought to dig into before. This strategy translates equally as well to email subject lines.

Bottom line, they make you think, and they make you read more.

This strategy can be a gamble. You have to be very confident in your voice and know your audience, their taste and how they would feel about a subject line like this. But, if you’re going to use this tactic, it can pay off in a big way.

Subject Lines with Numbers

I once sent out a customer email with a subject line that read: “Increase your email click through rates by 62.84%.” This got one of the best open rates (59%) of our weekly emails for 2016.

Numbers work because they stand out; our brains are drawn to digits. Numbers are also easier to digest than text, and percentages if they’re impressive enough, can guide someone toward taking action.

Lists also work in subject lines, for example, “3 tips for home staging” offers the promise of an easy read.

Mysterious Subject Lines

Mysterious or vague subject lines are often enticing to people because they are, well, mysterious. This is another tactic that piques curiosity in the reader, who knows they will have to open the email and read more to make complete sense of your subject line. And when they do, it’s an “a-ha!” moment for them that provides a sense of satisfaction.

“FOMO” Subject Lines

“FOMO,” or fear of missing out, is not a fun feeling. As human beings, we have an inherent fear of missing out or being left behind, and feeling this way often leads us to react with a fight or flight response. In the case of an email, the response would be flight. Subject lines that make your contacts feel like they could be missing out on something work because they create a sense of urgency, making them feel like they have to act to keep up with the crowd.

It’s all psychology; think herd mentality. When people think other people are getting something great, they’ll join the flock and open your email.

The subject line is everything. It’s the gate to your message; make it one someone wants to open. If you need a resource to get a little more help, check out for some ideas!


Samantha Leonard
Samantha is a Digital Marketing associate at Boston Logic, who works closely with the Marketing and Sales teams to create engaging and valuable content, with the goal of educating leads and guiding them through the buyers journey.