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5 Email Subject Lines for Marketing Success

It's no secret that an effective subject line is of prominent importance for the success of any email marketing campaign.

Cross Channel

If an email is not opened, it has not only been ineffective, it may be causing some measure of brand tarnish. An unwanted message is associated with the sender, so it is imperative that the subject line be compelling.

Much has already been written about crafting the perfect subject line, and online checkers are readily available to assist marketers. In this study, 5 different approaches to developing a subject line are examined. Most email messages will lend them selves to several styles, or even combinations.

1. List Email Subject Line

The "Simple List" approach is pretty obvious (especially given the title of this post), but still compelling. When dealing with complex topics, or services with multiple components, letting recipients know that the information is organized into easily ingested chunks helps increase open rates. Reducing anxiety and ensuring the reader that an accessible solution is being presented, this style of subject line remains quite effective, despite it's prevalence.

Example: "5 subject lines for email success"

2. How-To Email Subject Line

People often respond favorably to messaging that clearly conveys that a problem or question will be addressed. The "How-to" subject line perfectly services this purpose. Much like the "list" style of subject line noted above, this approach is heavily used in marketing messaging. That doesn't diminish it's effectiveness. It is very simple to write an effective subject line with this approach, simply state a clear benefit following "How-to".

Example: "How-to: subject lines that get opened"

3. Question Email Subject Line

A subject line posed as a question will cause the reader to pause for a moment and consider the answer. This style of subject line can be quite short, and will tempt the reader to open the mail and discover the answer. Some readers will feel they already know the answer and will proceed to open the message out of the human need for approval. In many implementation, the question subject line can challenge the recipient directly, leading to opens in an desire to verify their self-perceived competence.

Example: "Can you write effective subject lines?"

4. Testimonial Email Subject Line

If you have the budget, or publicly verifiable source for your statement, opening a subject line with a declaration associated with a popular or well known figure can draw people in, eg: "Darren Hardy uses these simple subject line rules". However, this form works well without a formal name. Referencing a reputable group or classification of professionals can persuade like employed recipients.

Example: "Top marketers use this trick for higher open rates"

5. Why Email Subject Line

Like other subject line styles, the "Why" subject line also promises the answer to a prospective problem for the recipient. It has the potential benefit of associating the targeted reader of the mail with others in their field of practice or a well known individual, not unlike the "testimonial" Style. Very versatile, this style of subject line can also be used to lead the recipient into opening the mail because they may feel they already now the reason why and wish to confirm their belief.

Example: "Why top marketers use 5 simple subject line rules" or "Why your subject line is your open rate"


Their is no shortage of advice on how to use email marketing, much of it good, some not-so-much. Likewise, automated subject line checkers are often incapable of keeping up with ever-changing trends and consumer behaviors. The simple, inescapable fact is, without proper targeting, no email subject line is going to save a campaign.

Call Toll Free (855) 874-5522 to learn more about how Comtech can help you.

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