How to Write Irresistible Subject Lines that Get Your Emails Opened

All that hard work, down the drain.

Those hours spent agonizing over every word.

So you can get that marketing email just right.

And once you decide enough is enough, you press the “Send” button and hold your breath.

Then hold your breath some more. (Until you turn a little blue and figure you’d better start breathing again. :))

But still, nothing. No responses from your email readers. A few hours pass, then a full day. And once 24 hours passes, studies show that the chance of your email being seen, opened, and read falls to about, oh, a snowball’s chance in you-know-where.

That email you worked so hard to get just right seems to have fallen on deaf ears (or blind eyes, as I suppose it would be here).

People aren’t opening your email, they’re not clicking the link(s), they’re not signing up for your free teleseminar, they’re not buying your product, they’re not enrolling in your group program.

They’re not doing anything.

All that hard work, down the drain.

But it’s not your fault. (Or your readers’, for that matter.)

It all boils down to this: 120 emails per day.

That’s the average number of emails research company Radicati Group estimates that each email user receives in a given day.

But a recent ABC News study found that the average person could consume (as in, open, read, and respond) about 50 emails per day, max.

Which leaves roughly 70 (or more) emails unopened, unread, and unacted upon.

Which also means that, as an email marketer, you’re trying to make your email(s) stand out above roughly 120 others, all competing for your readers’ limited time and attention.


That’s a tall order for one tiny little email.

Thankfully, you have a secret weapon that can help you skyrocket to the head of the opened list.

It’s a little thing called your subject line.

The good news (for you) is that many folks don’t pay these poor little guys much mind.

Typically, subject lines are an afterthought, thrown together on a whim after spending hours writing the perfect email.

What a MISTAKE! Especially considering that without a super awesome, can’t-wait-to-read-this subject line, most emails won’t even be opened. Much less read. And all that work that went into crafting the perfect email to promote your teleseminar/product/program/service goes to waste. Ouch.

So, how do you turn these wimpy little subject lines into real winners that help give your emails the attention they deserve?

By using one of the 3 most irresistible types of subject lines there are, that’s how.

Here there are, in no particular order.

Irresistible Subject Line Type 1: Curiosity

Most folks love a good mystery. Add in an itch-they-can’t-scratch element and you’ve got yourself an email that’s just begging to be opened.

Here’s what I mean.

Curiosity emails typically leave something uncovered. They tease the mind with plays on words, or incomplete phrases, or things that don’t make sense.

They ask questions that, if left unanswered, leave readers with that nagging sense that something is missing, or that they’re headed for trouble that can be avoided. They flat out tell folks that if they don’t open up, they’ll miss out on something wonderful. Something transformational. Something that could change the way they approach life/love/business and set them on a path to bliss.

They’re the soft whisper riding on promises of a better life/career/marriage.

Or maybe something not quite as earth-shattering but equally enjoyable. Perhaps just a simple pleasure to make them smile.

They’re statements like these:

[first_name] – is it time for YOUR independence?

You’re about to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime training

Are you at risk for bankruptcy?

Short. Powerful. Irresistible. ‘Nuff said.

Irresistible Subject Line Type 2: Straightforward

This oldie but goody tells it like it is. No guesswork here, people know exactly what’s inside.

The link to download their report.

A new resource to help them organize their office.

30% savings on their favorite treats.

While curiosity-based subject lines can be great for upping the intrigue factor, straightforward subject lines cut straight to the chase, and might therefore get a higher response from folks who are looking for exactly what you’re offering. So that your emails are actually getting past folks’ defenses and inspiring them to click to open them – and get more info on the goodness inside.

“I can’t find anything in this mess of an office! What’s this? An email offering help in organizing this chaos?” Click.

“Ooh, I loved those brownies they sent me last time. And 30% off? Sold!” Click.

Here’s a few examples to get the wheels turning:

[Profitable Newsletter System] – 1 Day 50% Off Sale!

Announcing your chance to get a FREE logo design

Here’s your coupon, [first_name]!

Irresistible Subject Line Type 3: Urgency

Here’s a little-known fact about how we humans approach buying stuff (especially stuff that costs a lotta cash):

We hem. We haw. We compare prices. We ask friends and neighbors for suggestions and referrals. We hem some more.

And we typically put off making a decision as long as humanly possible.

Take car buying, for example. The lease on my husband and my Jeep is set to expire in a few months, so of course we’ve already started getting inundated with letters trying to entice us to trade up early.

About a month ago, we took the bait and went into the dealership. Looked around a bit. Started researching new (and bigger – to accommodate our growing family :)) vehicles. Made a list of all the features our new vehicle HAD to have. Made a list of all the features we would LIKE to have. Searched for the perfect car.

Found nothing.

Finally got busy and gave up the fight, deciding to try again in a few months (when our lease is expiring and we are forced to either buy our existing car out from the lease or find something else).

Bottom line was that without a sure deadline, and without a great deal that was too good to give up, or the perfect car that we just couldn’t resist, there was no real reason to buy.

I know we’re not the only ones either, because I’ve talked to friends who car (or house, or boat, or any other big purchase) shopped for months or even years before making the purchase.

And in most cases, it was a pressing need that finally made the purchase happen. As in one case of a couple friends of ours who found out they were expecting their second child and finally decided to get serious about upgrading into a larger home…under the deadline of a due date to keep moving them along.

Same thing goes with someone whose older-than-dirt car finally goes kaput, leaving them without transportation. How fast do you think they’ll be in the car dealership looking for a new set of wheels?

Nothing gets people off the fence and into buying action like a looming deadline or a pressing need.

With that in mind, emails that make use of urgency in their subject line can be highly effective in getting responses from readers.

(Side note: this is a powerful technique that I encourage you to use with care. Please don’t fake this urgency, such as by saying that a certain discount is ending when you have no intention of increasing the price. As in all marketing, a touch of integrity goes a long way toward building the know, like, and trust factor that is the foundation of a successful business.)

Here are a few examples of subject line urgency in action:

Last Chance to save $100 [Write Your Website Workshop]

[Today Only] Claim your $500 bonus gift

You in, [fname]? List-building teleseminar starts in 1 hour!

Armed with these 3 most irresistible types of subject lines, your emails are MUCH more likely to grab attention from – and get opened by – the people you’re most wanting to serve with your products, programs, and trainings.

Next Steps: Now that you have a smokin’ hot subject line that gets your email opened, your next step is writing a smokin’ hot EMAIL that gets read and gets results (you know, folks actually signing up for your freebies, requesting your consults, buying your goods, that sorta stuff). Check out the resource-packed Instant Promotional Emails package to get everything you need to write amazing, client-attracting emails in a hurry. Click here to learn more and get instant access.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, please use the buttons below to share this with your friends and colleagues. And then come on back and leave me a comment. What subject line(s) are you working on? Do tell!

Tammi_MetzlerTammi Metzler, founder of The Write Associate, is a self-professed “word geek.” Her greatest joy is in playing with words all day to find just the right combination to get folks all fired up. In the daytime hours, this means writing online marketing copy that grabs the attention and interest of readers so that they “get” the awesomeness of the product/service in question and think “I gotta get me some of that!” After hours this often means finding just the right words to get the response she’s looking for from her husband and/or 10-year-old daughter & preschool son (grin). She offers tons of resources about creating compelling marketing copy that excites & engages your ideal clients on her blog at


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