If you are reading this, I’m glad! Hopefully that means the headline I chose was interesting enough to make you want to learn more! Writing headlines and email subject lines is tricky. For me, it can be the hardest piece of the puzzle, and I often save it for last. (It’s hard to summarize or describe something you haven’t written yet.)


What is the goal of headlines and email subject lines? To convey what the piece contains in as brief a manner as possible. They can also be an invitation to learn more, and contain a call to action. When I am composing subject lines or headlines, I think about what makes me open an email, or keep reading an article. (After all, even for blogs or email updates that I have subscribed to, I still only open the ones with a topic that interests me.) I also did some polling around the office, and the consensus was that the following elements are what get opens and clicks:


Email subject lines:

  • Personalization, whether it’s using a first name, or the subject is something of very current interest to the reader. (Do this in conjunction with drip marketing and you are off to a great start.)
  • A reference to something the recipient currently wants or needs
  • An offer interesting enough to make the recipient open the email, even if it wasn’t something they had been looking for or thought they needed.



  • A message that’s relatable and informative, so the reader knows what they are getting and why it’s important
  • An idea that is surprising, or the opposite of what is expected, but steer clear of clickbait! That’s the worst – a sure way to lose followers.


You may be saying, “My subject lines and headlines have these elements, but still aren’t getting noticed. What could be wrong?” As with all marketing, to have any success, you need to understand your audience. Figure out what questions and problems they have, where they are looking for answers, and put your work in front of them.


What are some other rules for subject line and headline success?

  • Use ALL CAPS and exclamation points for effect sparingly. Not only is it obnoxious, but it can land your message in the dreaded spam folder.
  • Don’t sound gimmicky. A conversational tone is often the way to go. People don’t like to feel they are being “sold” to.
  • Keep it short. Here is a great infographic breaking down the optimal length for headlines, subject lines and more.

Was this useful to you? Please share it if so – let’s see how many more clicks it gets!

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