How to Increase Your Email Open Rates - 14 Simple Subject Line Tips

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How to Increase Your Email Open Rates – 14 Simple Subject Line Tips

How to increase your email open rates

Do your email open rates suck? It might be your boring email subject lines. But, if you want to increase your email open rates, you’re in the right place!

In this blog post, I’m going to go over the best tips to increase your open rates in no time.

Picture this. You have something awesome to promote to your email list one morning, so you send an email blast to your entire list.

Later that day, you look at your ConvertKit stats, and what do you see? Nobody is opening your emails, nobody is clicking, and nobody is buying.

Yeah, I’ve been there.

It sucks when you pour your heart into an email and don’t even get past the front door!

Before I show you how to write better subject lines and increase your email open rates, let me go over why email lists and open rates are so important.

Email marketing FAQ’s

Why do bloggers need an email list?

The money is in the list. That’s what everyone says, at least. But let me tell you, it’s so true!

The best way for bloggers to make money is with an email list.

You will find it difficult to convince someone to buy a product from a single blog post and practically impossible from ads on your sidebar.

Email marketing is an awesome way to make money because you can promote products to an engaged audience with which you’ve already built trust!

If you haven’t started an email list yet, I wrote a simple step-by-step guide on starting your first email list here.

Why should you start an email list with ConvertKit?

Of all the email marketing providers out there (and trust me, there are a lot of them), I use and recommend ConvertKit.

Here are my top reasons why I think ConvertKit is the best email marketing platform for bloggers:

Generous free tier

Rather than lock you into a long-term commitment like other email marketing platforms do, ConvertKit instead has a free plan option.

In their free tier, you can have up to 1,000 subscribers, so you don’t have to pay until you’ve grown your list.

The main benefit of upgrading is to unlock automated email sending with email sequences.

Create customized landing pages

No need for additional landing page software. With ConvertKit, you get to choose from 50+ landing page templates to help grow your list.

Send personalized emails

One of the best ways to increase your open and click rates is to send personalized emails. With ConvertKit, you can include whatever information you collected at signup to personalize your subject lines.

Step-by-step visual automations

With ConvertKit, you can create simple or complex automations. For example, when someone signs up via a specific form, you can tag the subscriber and start them on a sequence.

When they make a purchase, you can remove them from that sequence and start them on a post-purchase sequence.

Click here to open a ConvertKit account.

What’s a good email open rate?

Your email open rate will vary depending on your niche.

According to Mailchimp, the average open rate across all industries is 21.33% (source).

For my own email list, I regularly get 40% open rates on my emails. And I think you should aim for that open rate too.

Why are open rates so important?

The subject line is the most important element of email marketing.

Without an awesome subject line, it doesn’t matter what you’re promoting; you’re not making a dime!

While ultimately, your offer needs to be good, nobody will get down to your offer if your email subject sucks.

Imagine this scenario. The same product is being promoted by two people with a different email subject line strategy.

  • Subject line 1: Buy These Effective Weight Loss Pills! On Sale Now!
  • Subject line 2: I Lost 12 Pounds In 7 Days! [Before+After Pics Inside!]

Which email makes more sales? Clearly the 2nd one. Not because the product is any better, but because email #2 will have a higher open rate.

Higher open rates give you more chances at making a sale.

So if you’re not making any money with email marketing, it might not be because your product sucks or your sales copy sucks.

Maybe it’s your weak email subject lines.

How to increase your email open rates

My subject lines used to be dreadful. Here are a couple of gems I was able to dig up:

  • Newsletter #27: Latest updates from the blog.
  • New Blog Post Alert!
  • “Title of the blog post.”

Every time I sent an email, I’d get unsubscribes and zero engagement.

It wasn’t until I started paying attention to which emails I personally opened that it finally clicked.

Emails that piqued my curiosity were always opened.

So I dove in headfirst into understanding what makes humans open an email, and I discovered 14 key factors that really make a difference.

1. Make your email subject line easy to read

Don’t overthink it.

The sole purpose of a subject line is to get them to open it. Nothing more.

You should be able to scan and read your subject in a couple of seconds tops.

Here are some best practices for subject lines.

  • Subject lines are like blog post titles, so use the right capitalization (capitalize my title).
  • To make it easier to read, avoid grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. I use Grammarly.
  • Don’t use more than one exclamation point or multiple emojis, especially in the middle of the subject.
  • Limit slang. Audiences from different age groups or geographic locations might not understand.

You can learn to write better email subject lines and content using the free Grammarly browser extension.

2. Keep your subject line short

It’s important not to have your subject cut off by Gmail or whatever email program your subscribers use.

On my iPhone using Gmail, the subject cuts off at about 40 characters.

Mobile matters a lot with emails. My stats show that more than half of my subscribers open their emails from their smartphones.

You’ll have more room on desktop displays, but optimize your email subject lines for mobile.

Aim for a subject line between 20-40 characters or between 6-8 words.

3. Ask a question

A question mark goes a long way. When your readers see a question, they immediately begin thinking of answers. It’s just human nature.

Questions work because a question starts a loop but does not close it. We tend to want to find a resolution to things.

By posing an interesting question in your email subject, it will significantly raise the odds of them reading your message.

4. Avoid words commonly found in spam emails

The number one reason emails don’t get opened is because your emails end up in the spam folder.

This can happen when your email subject triggers spam filters in email providers like Gmail.

Avoid using words that trigger the spam filters, such as gift, 100%, order, save, deal, and offer.

While using one of these words alone may not be enough to send you to the spam folder, it does increase your chances of ending up in the black hole of email.

5. Create a sense of urgency

You’ve heard of FOMO, haven’t you? Fear Of Missing Out. We all have it whether we’d like to admit it or not.

People don’t want to be left out of something exciting. So it’s up to you to create a sense of excitement and urgency.

You can use phrases like “today only” or “before time runs out” to create a deadline. This is because people intuitively are more interested when time is running out.

Have a look at these instances of subject line urgency:

  • Hurry! Only 24 Hours Left To Use Your 60% Off Coupon Code
  • Today Is The Last Day To Enroll In My Course
  • There’s Still Time To Qualify For Your Members-Only Discount

6. Personalize your subject line

When you mass mail your list, you send out one email to the entire group. This is impersonal, not targeted, and not recommended.

The solution is to personalize each email so the recipient feels like you’re talking directly to them.

Doing this manually would be impossible. But there’s a shortcut.

If you collected other information at sign-up, such as their first name, you could use this information to personalize the email.

Depending on what information you collected at signup, some examples of personalized emails could be:

  • [Name], Ever Think About Why…
  • What Real Estate Agents Are Saying About [City Name]
  • Boost [Company Name] Sales With…
  • Let’s Give A Traffic Boost To [Website Name].

In ConvertKit, adding this text will replace it with the subscribers’ first name: {{ subscriber.first_name }}

7. Segment your list into interest-based groups

You can add email subscribers to different groups in ConvertKit based on what lead magnet they subscribed from.

Then, you send different emails to each group.

Your emails will be more targeted if you segment your list this way.

For my blog, I can have the following different groups:

  • Beginner: Don’t have a blog but want to start one
  • Intermediate: Just started my blog, new to blogging
  • Advanced: Blogging pro looking to grow my income

This way, I can better tailor my email content to each group and increase my open rates.

I use ConvertPro as my list-building plugin. I like the templates, but my favorite feature is A/B split-testing my forms repeatedly to build the highest converting opt-in form possible.

8. Say something controversial

You can elicit an emotional response by using controversy in your email subject. These kinds of emails tend to get opened since they trigger an emotional reaction.

Here are some examples of how to stimulate curiosity by saying something controversial.

  • You’re In Over Your Head! I Can Tell You What You’re Doing Wrong.
  • You Have A Terrible [Niche-related thing]! Here’s How To Make It Better

Pick a topic within your niche and take an unconventional stand on it.

For example, a food blogger who’s against extra virgin olive oil? A weight loss blogger who’s in favor of high-fat diets? A real estate blogger who prefers renting over owning a home?

9. Use lists and numbers in your email subjects

Numbers are easier to process than words are. You don’t have to go all Buzzfeed-like in your subject lines, but treating email subject lines like blog post titles can do wonders.

Here are some examples:

  • 17 Amazing Email Marketing Tricks to Master
  • 15 Productivity Hacks Used By Millionaires
  • 29 Mind Hacks to Sleep Better

Email subject lines and blog post titles go hand in hand. You can learn how to write better headlines for your blog posts using Thrive Headline Analyzer.

The way it works is simple. First, you add several headlines for each of your blog posts. The plugin then shows different headlines to your readers.

After accumulating enough data (bounce rate, time on page & scroll-depth), they choose the winning headline and show that to the rest of your traffic.

10. Capture their interest with curiosity

Writing a subject line that stimulates curiosity takes time and skill to master. But once you’ve got it down to a science, you see their effectiveness.

The following subject lines do an outstanding job of stimulating curiosity and increasing open rates.

  • I DOUBLED My Traffic By Using This Content Marketing Method
  • This Man Earned $1,000,000 By Doing One SIMPLE Thing
  • You’ll NEVER Believe How I Made $100 Yesterday

11. Optimize your preview text to increase your open rates

In most email programs, you see the name of the sender, the subject, and the first few words of the email body.

Take advantage of this space by making the email even more enticing to open.

The best type of preview text leaves the reader hanging in suspense. Here’s a couple of examples of good use of the preview text.

  • Norman made more than $1,000,000 last year by…
  • I didn’t know what I was doing until I tried…

12. Do some A/B testing of your subject line

A/B testing is when you create two emails with different subjects and test the results.

Here’s how to conduct A/B testing:

  • 1. Send your email with Subject #1 to 10% of your list.
  • 2. Send your email with Subject #2 to 10% of your list.
  • 3: Wait 24 hours and analyze the results.

See which one had the higher open rate, then send that subject line to the remaining 80% of your list.

Well, that’s one way to do it. But the other way is the automated way with the built-in A/B testing in ConvertKit.

By regularly split-testing subject lines and studying the results, you’ll naturally become better at writing clickable subject lines.

13. Clean up your email list

Another way of increasing your open rates is to remove email subscribers who never open your emails.

This practice of cleaning up your email list should be done periodically to keep your email marketing costs down.

Having only active email subscribers sends a signal to email providers that you’re not a spammer and send quality emails that should be delivered to everyone on your list.

This is the secret sauce to improving your deliverability rates so that 100% of your emails end up in your subscribers’ inboxes and not their spam folder.

14. Subscribe to your competition

Is there an industry leader in your niche? Of course, there is.

Join their email list and see how they write their email subject lines.

Odds are, they’ve refined their technique through the years and now create perfectly optimized subject lines with high open rates.

Learn from their email subjects because theirs are proven to work.

Doing things “your own creative way” is so overrated.

If others have already spent the time and money to come up with a style of email subject lines that work, why not learn from them?

Ready to increase your email open rates? Go on and implement these subject line tips and see your open rates soar!

Until next time,

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  About > me

Edwin is the professional blogger and side hustle expert behind Do Six Figures. With 20+ years of experience building profitable websites and making money online under his belt, Edwin is now obsessed with helping people find their perfect side hustle and make serious money online.

5 thoughts on “How to Increase Your Email Open Rates – 14 Simple Subject Line Tips”

  1. Images speak a thousand words and more. Using images in your content will help users to relate more easily to the content of your email. An image can suffice as a summary of your email content and also creates better engagement with your subscribers.

  2. Curiosity is basic human nature. When your subject line strikes a chord of curiosity, it will get them asking for more.

    Keeping your subscribers curious is a good way to increase your email open rate. This email from “Digital Marketer” does make you curious about “the secret”.

  3. I’ve always ignored email marketing in the past but now i’m starting to see how important it is for my business and how it can be useful for long term benefits.

  4. Are there any other common reasons that emails get sent to spam besides using some of the key words you noted? I just want to know how I can most efficiently avoid having my mail sent to the spam folder.

  5. I’m constantly A/B testing subject lines to see what works and what doesn’t. What are your open rates and what are you planning to do to improve your subject lines?

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