[1 of 2] 13 Subject Lines To Boost Open Rates

It’s been a bank holiday weekend here in the UK, which means nobody works Monday. When I say nobody, I mean nobody who works in a normal Monday to Friday, nine to five job.

It feels like a lifetime since I wrote about getting a 90% open rate from your emails in this post https://michaelwilding.substack.com/p/get-a-90-open-rate

But, it was only last Friday!

And now you know all about that, it’s time to go through each of the thirteen subject line types that are going to boost your open rate.

The first step in email marketing is to get your readers to open your emails. If they don’t open your emails then they’re not going to read anything you write.

If they don’t read anything you write then guess what?

They sure as shit ain’t gonna be buying anything from you!

In forum after forum you see threads like this:

The person asking the question has got it wrong.

The first person replying to the question has got it wrong.


Because all they’re interested in is… themselves.

And do you know what everyone on your mailing list is interested in?


And guess what?

They’re sure as hell not particularly interested in you when they join your mailing list!

Think about it. What does everyone tell you to do to build a mailing list?

Create a lead magnet. Offer your visitors something free when they join your mailing list which will benefit them.

So why do 99% of people then think they can start email products and promotions straight away. After all, that kinda thinking is only considering yourself, not your readers.

Which is why we need to go back to the beginning and start with…

Getting your emails opened.

Once you’re getting your emails opened, then you can build a relationship with your readers.

If you’re building a relationship with your readers, then you can promote some things.

But guess what… you should only consider promoting products which will benefit your readers.

Which means the products need to be good, and you need to have tested them before you recommend them.

Anyhoo… let’s get back to getting your emails read!

There are thirteen main types of subject lines which will get your emails opened. These are:

  1. Curiosity

  2. Urgency & Scarcity

  3. Free Offers

  4. Personalised Emails

  5. Newsjacking Style

  6. Stories

  7. Lists

  8. Shocking

  9. Non-Related

  10. Benefit Based

  11. Inspirational

  12. Charitable

  13. Controversial

I’m going to go through each of these to show you how you can use them to maximise your open rates on every single email you send.

1. Curiosity

Curiosity is one of the best ways to get your emails open. Humans, by nature, are curious. It’s how click-baiting become so popular, the natural desire of people to click on a link to something which is curious.

Often it’s thought that a curiosity based subject line requires there to be a question. It doesn’t.

What it does need to do is fire the imagination and make you think about what’s going to arouse somebody’s desire to find out more.

If you’re not sure where to go to find examples, you can head to sites like BuzzFeed.

They have a limitless supply of curiosity based headlines which you can adapt to suit your needs.

For example:

Japanese BBQ Tattoo Makes $163,712.58

How A Random Coffee Cup Will Send You Traffic

Obviously the content of your email needs to link in with the subject line, but we’ll look at how to do that in another newsletter.

2. Urgency & Scarcity

Nobody likes to miss out on something. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a very real and strong emotion.

It’s the emotion that Jeff Walkers entire Launch Formula product is based on.

Heck, it’s what pretty much every single company in the world tries to play on!

You start by creating a feeling of excitement about something that will be happening soon. Then, when it starts happening, you tell people that they’re going to have to take action quickly or they’ll miss out on the thing they’ve been waiting for so excitedly and expectantly.

Yes, it also works in subject lines.

For example:

[Email 4 of 5] The next email is going to be your last chance

1957 gone, only 43 left!

3. Free Offers

Yup, it’s true… everybody likes something for nothing.

I mean damn, that’s how we build email lists to start with isn’t it!

If you can offer something that’s usually paid for, for free, then you’re going to be onto a winner.

But a word of warning, don’t do it too often or you’ll both devalue your brand and product, and won’t be able to sell anything that’s not on offer because your audience will just wait until you do an offer again.

The type of subject lines that use this are:

FREE ACCESS for the next 6 hours only!

Holy s**t, I’ve never given this away FREE before

4. Personalised Emails

I don’t use these, primarily because I don’t collect people’s first names when they sign up to my newsletter.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t work!

And the simple fact is… if you do collect first names from your readers when they join . your mailing list, then you can use them occasionally in your subject lines to get a better open rate.

Everybody likes to be addressed personally, it creates a feeling of being written to individually as opposed to being sent an email that’s gone to thousands of people.

For example:

John, I think you’re gonna like this…

WAIT Michael, Don’t Open Another Email Until You Read THIS

5. Newsjacking Style

Newsjacking was made popular by David Scott who, I think, coined the phrase.

It’s the art of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story. Here’s what David says about it:

As journalists scramble to cover breaking news, the basic facts—who/what/when/where—are often fairly easy to find, either on a corporate website or in competitors’ copy. That’s what goes in the first paragraph of any news story.

The challenge for reporters is to get the “why” and the implications of the event.

All this is what goes in the second paragraph and subsequent paragraphs. That’s why the newsjacker’s goal is to own the second paragraph.

If you are clever enough to react to breaking news very quickly, providing credible second-paragraph content in a blog post, tweet, or media alert that features the keyword of the moment, you may be rewarded with a bonanza of media attention.

Using the same concept in your email marketing is also very effective. Of course, with emails you’re unlikely to be as timely as a blog post, although it is possible. However, you can use the general trend of what’s happening in the news in your subject lines to connect with your audience.

Here are a couple of examples:

How Trump Forced Me To Earn $1,073,654 This Year

The Royal Baby Is Causing A Marketing Revolution

6. Stories

Stories are the bread and butter for any writer. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fiction writer, factual writer, journalist, script writer, copywriter or email writer.

The one thing that links all writers is the need for a good story.

You can ALWAYS use stories in your emails with great success. It’s one of the few types of subject line types and content types that is almost impossible to overuse.

Which, considering most types can be easily overused, is pretty nice to have.

Creating open loops, which we will discuss in detail later, is the best way to drive opens from your emails, but it’s not a necessity.

Below I’ve written a couple of examples of story type subject lines showing both an open loop type and a standard type of story.

Oh my god… I nearly died in the jungle!

It was only after last week, that I realised…

7. Lists

Feeling like we’ve achieved something makes us feel good.

You get those days when you feel like you’ve done and achieved nothing. Going home you feel a bit depressed, like you’ve not succeeded.

But then you get the days when you manage to do everything you intended and more.

Those are the days when you feel invincible!

Lists allow people to achieve. By allowing people to achieve, you are also allowing them to feel good about themselves.

Which is why, subject lines containing lists can be oh so very powerful.

A bit like these:

10 Ways to Earn Money Online Today

6 Steps To Building A 100k Mailing List


We’re half way through the thirteen subject lines that are going to boost your open rates, and we’re going to finish the rest tomorrow.

Make sure that you grab the link to this blog post so you can come back to it later for reference.

But you can start using these in your email marketing as of… now!


The Online Hustle

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