The Secret to a Great Email Subject Line

We’ve all probably spent countless hours trying to come up with the perfect subject line – the subject line guaranteed to capture your audience and move them to action. People receive so many emails daily, it can be extremely difficult to stand out from the crowd. After years of struggling to develop a powerful new subject line for each piece of content marketing I sent out, I finally pulled together a helpful list of styles to refine the process and pick the perfect subject line for each email.

Humorous or Joking Subject Lines

We can’t be serious all the time, and I have found that people appreciate a break from serious emails every now and then. However, you have to know your audience well and respect their humor. Creating a targeted, funny opening can win you a lot of admirers. For example, Buzzfeed does a great job of giving its readers a daily dose of sarcasm and humor in one line, like: “Not Cool, Guys”

No-nonsense, to the Point Subject Lines

Use these lines when you have important information that shouldn’t be misconstrued or requires an immediate response. This helps your reader prioritize their inbox without having to spend time viewing the text of the email. Typically, this approach is used for notification emails such as payment reminders or subscription renewals. They may not be the most creative, but they are the most straightforward.

Single Word Subject Lines

One word subject lines stand out against sentences and cater to our short attention spans. If you can use one word to grab your reader’s attention and let them know what to expect in the email, you have won half the battle. While it might not be entirely relevant to your work, emotionally charged one liners have the ability to really increase your open rates. For instance, “Panic” vs “Sale”.


Using a question as your subject line is a great way to engage your reader even before they open the email. I find using questions primes my clients for the contents of the email and gets them thinking about sales and marketing from the beginning. I want them to be in a place where they can invest time into considering and interacting with the contents of my email. Questions can address the emotion or the more practical, like: “Tough Day at the Office?” or “Need to Increase your Conversions?”

While there are many more styles, use those listed above to give you a good foundation for compiling effective subject lines. You can also check out Hubspot’s list of the 18 best subject lines from various companies for added insight.