10 Ideas for Attention Grabbing Email Subject Lines

When people see your subject line, they unconsciously wondering, "if I open this email, will it be a waste of time?"

Do you know how long it takes to win that first impression?

Seven… SECONDS!

Yes, you read that right. Not hours, not minutes, but seconds.

That’s why you need a catchy email subject line every time you send an email.

Maybe you’ve written an amazing email, but if your subject line doesn’t get their attention, your subscribers won’t open the email.

Every email opened means more potential sales and revenue, and even a tiny increase in your open rates can make a big difference for your business. This is why every unopened email is a leaving money on the table.

The simplest and most effective way to write good subject lines for higher email open rate is to capitalize on the basics of human psychological tendencies.

Put yourself in the shoes of your subscribers and ask yourself which subject lines you would “have to click”, and voila, you are a step closer to achieving a much better opening rate.

Here are 10 ideas for email subject lines that grab attention:

1. Scarcity (FOMO)

Most people find it practically impossible to resist the fear of missing out (FOMO). Add an element of scarcity (limited availability) or urgency (limited time) to get them to open the email. For example: [URGENT] tonight it’s gone.

2. Curiosity

Leave your subject line open-ended so subscribers will be curious, like a cliffhanger that can only be satisfied by opening the email. You can make your subscribers curious by asking a question, promising something interesting, or simply saying something that sounds strange or unusual. For example: Don’t open this email!

3. Funny

If your subject line makes your subscribers laugh, they’ll have to open it. Being humorous requires a bit more thought and creativity, but it can really pay off in terms of your open rates. For example: Oops: Someone hadn’t had their coffee this morning

4. Vanity

People love to be liked, accepted and even admired by others. It’s a part of being human. Promise something in your subject line that makes the subscriber look better to others. For example: You won’t be able to stop looking in the mirror

5. Greed

Everyone loves a great deal… even if you don’t really need the item right now. That’s why sales, discounts and special offers work really well in your subject lines. For example: It’s Friday and everything is 30% off

6. Laziness

Even people who aren’t inclined to be lazy would prefer an easier solution over the long and hard route. You can give your subscribers an easier way to achieve their goals by offering a shortcut, or a useful resource that saves a lot of time and energy. For example: [E-book] 100 email subject lines no one can resist

7. Pain Points
Use your subscribers’ pain points (you need to know them, obviously) to get them to open your emails by solving that problem for them. For example: Grow your business by investing 5 minutes a day

8. Retargeting
Retargeting emails are sent to subscribers when they fail to complete an action or a step in your sales funnel. These emails bring your subscribers back to your sales process. In your subject lines, overcome objections, offer something to sweeten the deal, or let them know that something ‘bad’ is going to happen if they don’t take action. For example: We are not going to give up on you

9. Personal
Including your subscriber’s name is one way to make your subject lines more personal. You can also use casual language, share something personal, or use copy that communicates familiarity or friendship. For example: Can we meet on Thursday, Richard?

10. Straightforward

When in doubt, make your subject line simple and straightforward. For example: I need your help

SPLIT TEST EVERY SUBJECT LINE

The most important rule for subject lines is ALWAYS, always split test them.
For every email create 2 or 3 different subject lines (preferably from different categories above).
That’s the only way you can learn what works and what doesn’t with YOUR subscribers.

Now It’s YOUR Turn

For five minutes… come up with as many ideas as you can… could YOU come up with one subject line in each category? Give it a try and post it below…

Let's Brainstorm

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Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

Let's Brainstorm

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Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

  1. Something we are still working on to improve, but we used before something like 'just to say thank you', 'free points with your next purchase', 'here is your 10% off (with a gift icon)', 'free shipping', 'are you ready for our biggest sale ever?'

  2. Hey guys,
    Just wanted to share some incredible results with you. I used some of your idea's and tips last week.
    One of those idea's was to ALWAYS Split-test my Subject line... Well... I did and the results are just unbelivebale!

    I am testing it right now for a week, but this was one of those results I wanted to share:

    2 emails with EXACT the same content.

    Only thing different is the subject line:

    Email #1 = Subject line: "Mag ik je zo om 11:00 coachen {%name%}?"

    Email #2 = Subject line: "Zien wij jou zo om 11:00 {%name%}?"

    Result Email #1 = > 39,61% Open rate + 4,9% Click Rate Through (wowww!)
    Result Email #2 = > 16,55% Open rate + 1,1% Click Rate Through (Double WOWW!)

    So the difference is not only with the open rate but also the CRT... I Definitilly will keep on testing!

    So it DOES matter and it IS a huge difference!

    My advice to you: Just keep on listening to Nisandeh and keep up the great work every one!

  3. What a good ideas everyone has. I will add some I use.

    1. playing with words: a space between two nouns or written together can change the meaning, like Buitenspel of buiten spel (playing outside or outside the game).
    2. a subject that is generally accepted. Is that the only thing or is there more? Like: Are only carrots good for your eyes?

    In a webinar it was suggested that you should at least come up with 30 variations for one subject. I haven't reached that number on any of my blogs. 🙂

  4. Hi all, I loved almost everything that is mentioned in the other comments. However, for myself there is a no-go area in two ways:
    1. do not mention things like "don't open this email" or "this is not spam/...", because I think that this triggers bad emotions in these times of phishing and a lot of spam that is sent, and a lot of warnings that are sent about the spam which might be
    2. also in toplines of mails, I think you have to be honest and not promise what you probably cannot keep. I once got a mail of a coach with the subject title: if you have a burn-out, do not worry any longer. This feels for me not adequate and not sensitive. Also if you say that it is an offer for a limited period, I prefer that this is true.

    After this, a more positive contribution:
    a) Ask a special small group for help. This gave a high response rate of 70%, which formed the "start" group of my business
    b) Give your child more confidence in school.
    c) Read this mail carefully
    d) Sign in until Thursday 19th of May, for a free workshop
    e) Do not miss out the offer

  5. I'm always struggling with this. Sometimes I just say what it's about... like a new webinar.

    Other things:

    I need to mention this...
    Happy Valentines, Name (+ my lovestory)
    Name, download your free e-book

  6. Holy! This is a great topic. I was really excited when I finished the tips of Nisandeh (another print out for my team), especially your Bonus tip about Split testing it... Shipps! That's a great one to remember and implement again, thanks Nisandeh!

    And now I am reading all this amazing tips of @Ine, @Max and @Bina! Woow!

    So just a huge Shout out to you guys!

    Here come my best Subject lines:

    1) "3...2....1... It's gone"

    2) "name" (Voornaam) [and then implementing the 9-words mailing formule]

    3) adding {Firstname} at the beginning of the subject line => "Aramik: Here are you..."

    4) Adding Emojicons like today with mother day ==> 🎀Happy Mother's Day (plus 2 cadeaus)🎁

    5) "I quit..." ("ik stop ermee..." )

    6) Adding a name of a famous person, like : "This is what Einstein meant when..."

    7) Adding "Free" (Gratis) , just straight forward

    8) just putting "Help" or "Open Now" or "Warning"

  7. Email subject lines. I suspect the sender is even more important. When my mum sends me an e-mail, I will open it 100% of the time. The supermarket, not so much.

    Taking the lessons from yesterday, It is about triggering my creativity more than it is to deliver value that is not there yet.

    1. I made a mistake
    2. Stop procrastinating
    3. Can you help me?
    4. 80% of the people don't like this
    5. How to improve your .... (speaking/writing/singing/business skills/ relationships)
    6. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo
    7. Yesssssssssss!
    8. Mmmmmmh
    9. This is not spam (or this is not porn/commercial/cheese/email)
    10. The best e-mail I ever sent (or the worst one)
    11. Help
    12. I am stuck inside the mailchimp factory and I need someone to come save me
    13. .
    14. Will you open this e-mail? (guess where I got that from 😉 )
    15. MORE!
    16. This is not for you.
    17. The fix

    1. Those are brilliant, Max...

      However, I would avoid #9... I would avoid words that trigger the spam filters (like spam, porn, etc...) anywhere in the email, but for sure - I wouldn't include them in the subject line. Those emails will be caught by 99% of the spam filters.

      I guess #13 might be worth a test... but I have a feeling that it would get low opening rate.

  8. The good old Seven Sins are as actual as they can be. 4 out of 7 in your list 😈 Although a bit inappropriate, I think the last 3 would work too (lust, wrath, and envy).

    Coming up with brilliant slogans is definitely not my strongest point. I usually outsource it to my husband, but he isn't here this morning 😄 So...

    1. Very last editions af my lanterns will be sold coming fair.
    2. What happened to Jizo?
    3. Oops this didn't turn out they way I expected
    4. You. Are. Beautiful.
    5. Free gift
    6. It's too simple
    7. Eh...
    8. Next time big surprise, but you need this mail to prepare
    9. Well...
    10. Tsja...

    Have a great day, all of you!

    1. I’m impressed, Ine…
      I don’t know your subscribers, but almost all of those would work with my list.
      I especially love #8 - somehow never thought about it before.
      And it “kills” two birds with one subject line - getting them to open this one, and building expectations/curiosity for the next one…
      BRAVO 👏🏻

      1. Ah haha, thank you! Didn't expect your positive feedback. So, for me today's lessons are:

        1. Keep it SUPER SIMPLE.
        2. The more time I spend on it, the worse my subject line will get.

    2. Totally agreeing with Nisandeh, @Ine. Amazing list! and May I borrow them from you? 🙂

      And I am curious: Which one of theses has worked the best for you?

      and how often do you mail your list?

      1. Of course you can borrow them, go ahead!

        I sent my last newsletter last Thursday. The one before was 3 years ago. Next one's planned the end of May this year. I'll let you know which one performs best!

  9. Ohh I LOVE this one, especially that the questions has changed so let's see if I can use my skills here:

    1. Gone in 60 minutes
    2. You Can't Handle the Truth - or can you?
    3. Funny thing happened to me this morning...
    4. And the Oscar goes to.... YOU!
    5. 3 sessions for the price of 1!
    6. 75 Loglines Hacks
    7. Grammer is a bitch, but doesn't have to stop you from writing
    8. Have you forgotten something in your cart?
    9. Would you join me for my next Book Reading, Lucy?
    10. Would love to get your feedback

    Well, that's what I came up in 5 minutes... I'm sure I can improve it ot make it stronger. I found #9 & #10 - very close in nature...

    Could anyone explain to me how you do this Split Testing????

      1. @Ine - Thanks - I like it too... I'm thinking of using it in one of the upcoming emails and see how it would perform

        1. You're welcome 🙂 I'd like to see how that works.

          How about creating a profile here, so I can find you online and subscribe for your newsletter?

    1. Hello Bina,

      Start with google: "split test subject line ".
      That will tell you which buttons you need to press.

      Then design how you will learn from the split test. For example. You could send an e-mail to 10% of your list on monday with 2 different subjects and repeat the best performing subject line on tuesday.

      Or you could test a pattern over a few weeks/ months. Like using someone's first name or not. Or asking questions or not. Then after a certain amount of e-mails, stick with the ones that work well and start practicing with a new pattern.

      Have fun with it!

      1. Hi @Max - thanks so much for this explanation...

        Sounds simple enough going to try it on my own... and if that's not going to work going to call my tech wizard - i.e. - y hubby to help me with it...

    2. Loving your list too, @Bina. I love them all!

      And May I suggest some lines to you as a autor?

      I am huge fan of books and reading books. I would definitely open your email if you would use famous phrases of famous writers or use some quotes like "To Write of Not to Write"... I know, this one is a but cheesy, but I do mean it.

      As an autor, I think you have huge advantage upon us: There are 173.998.889.222.113.435 books ? 🙂

      Do you know what I mean @Bina?

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