Getting contacts to open marketing emails poses a major hurdle for many businesses. Whether a campaign targets prospective, existing, or prior customers, it can be tough to nail a marketing email that contacts engage with. Better open rates are the first step towards prompting your audience to take action and for you to reap the desired results from your campaigns. It’s time to get your creative juices flowing and strategize how to increase your marketing email open rates, starting with what people see first: subject lines.


Why are Subject Lines so Important?

Back in June, we wrote an article on how to increase open rates on your marketing campaigns. We identified why your open rates might be low and the importance of defining your audience, along with a list of tips on how to increase open rates. Now, it’s time to dive deeper into one of the most important tips on this list. Subject lines are the window into an email, and the make-or-break detail that determines whether someone opens your email or keeps scrolling. 

In short, it’s important to have a good subject line because your marketing emails won’t hold up without them. Keep reading for data-backed knowledge about subject lines and more email marketing best practices. 


Not All Subject Lines Are Created Equal

“Today's the day–increase your open rates now!”

You just read a subject line that scored a 100/100 for quality according to, founded by Jay Schwedelson, is the leading free subject-line rating tool ranked in the top 1% of all websites worldwide. As of today, he has tested over 12 million subject lines and uses this knowledge to guide businesses of all size and type on how to conduct successful and impactful email marketing campaigns. Resulting from these millions of tests, he’s accumulated real data associated with subject lines that increase the likelihood any given email will be opened, whether it be a B2B or B2C customer.

The results of Schwedelson’s tests all have one thing in common. The subject lines that have an increased likelihood of being opened are those that resonate with the customer. Rather than a line that appeals to one’s emotions, they speak to other customers’ experiences, the target’s prior actions, something genuine, thanking the customer in some way, or even referencing a special day or event. Additionally, his data reveals that those who open first emails will be more likely to keep those emails in their respective mailboxes as well as an increased likelihood of conversions from those customers.


Interesting data revealed by Schwedelson:

  • User generated content (UGC) in subject lines leads to increased open rates. Email click through rates up by 32% for B2B recipients and 28% for B2C recipients when the primary content is UGC. Open rates go up by 22% for B2B and 27% for B2C when “review” or “testimonial” are mentioned. 
  • Referring to a customer’s prior actions on websites in the subject line, such as “products viewed” led to increased open rates of up to 59%.
  • Referring to a customer being a new buyer or subscriber increases open rates by 74% with subject lines like, “Thank you for choosing us” or, “This is our way of saying thanks”.
  • Celebrating any holiday, no matter how important or silly the holiday, increases open rates. Whether it’s Labor Day, International Care Bear Day, or National Sudoku Day, celebrations increase open rates for B2B recipients by 21% and for B2C by 29%.
  • Using the word “Tomorrow” in subject lines increases open rates by 28% more than those that reference a specific day of the week.

These are just a few of the many insights Schwedelson has to offer regarding subject lines and open rates. It’s important to note that having an appealing subject line for new customers in email campaigns is imperative for increased engagement from those very people. Customers that open first emails are 85% more likely to keep that email in their inbox rather than moving it into the bin and deleting forever. Moreover, there’s a 225% higher chance that customers who open first emails will become conversions. No matter the content, it’s imperative that subject lines for emails resonate with customers in ways that are thoughtful and engaging, especially first emails in campaigns.


Seasonal Subject Lines–tips for the end of Q4 

Among his ongoing subject line tests, Schwedelson has some important information regarding subject lines for this December to help businesses with their end of year marketing goals and wrapping up Q4. This data is incredibly valuable for B2B and B2C marketing alike and should be utilized by all businesses looking to increase open rates in the coming days:

  • Letter format emails targeting director level and and above professionals (Director, Vice President, C-Suite) have click through rates 34% higher than average.
  • For B2C marketers, sending emails twice a day (one morning and one in the afternoon/evening) until December 24th increases response rate by 22%.
  • For B2B marketers, using the recipient business’ name in the subject line increases open rates by 37%
  • For B2C marketers, mentioning Free Shipping Day, December 14th, within five days on the holiday increases open rates by 24%.

Leveraging this data to your advantage in the coming days could be all that’s standing in the way of your business closing out the year with a bang.

Increasing open rates is essential for having your business’ message seen and heard by your customers. While there are certainly tips and tricks in achieving this, it’s imperative that your subject lines are genuine, engaging, and appeal to customers in very real ways. Applying data backed methods to subject lines, like the insight provided by Schwedelson, is a proven method to increasing open rates. Ultimately, this leads to more conversions for your business.


5 Subject Line Examples: 


  • Free strategy deck–download today
  • Is {Company} ready for 2023?
  • Here’s a free tool to help you increase ROI!
  • I want to give you a free quick win


  • Don’t miss out on big savings tomorrow!
  • Here’s a free thank you gift for choosing us!


More Insights Into Increased Open Rates


Write like a friend

Make people feel like your emails are coming from a friend, written in a conversational tone and not sounding too much like marketing speak. This is the best approach to get people to open your emails.

Keep Subscribers Intrigued

It’s essential for your business to stay relevant and ensure that your subscribers are still intrigued by your messaging. Do they still want to hear from you? If they have no interest in what you have to say, they won’t open your emails.

Use a solid platform to avoid spam filters.

Using a full-featured email marketing tool, like those found on HubSpot and ActiveCampaign, is an excellent way to avoid spam filters. These tools help your emails land in inboxes and avoid spam filters.

Don’t over-use images or videos

Visual can help convey your message but avoid using too many photos or videos, as they can make your email look like spam. Balancing text and visuals appeal to both recipients that like to skim through emails and those who like to read them in their entirety.

Only send quality content

Provide content of value to recipients. Only send messages that give something valuable to your audience. Examples of this are promotion of a product or service, tips and tricks, or even industry news. Try legitimizing your brand by sharing data and statistics which catch the attention of your readers. Also, like mentioned above, it’s important you don’t come off as too sales-like in the content you provide as people don’t like being sold to.

Utilize list segmentation

Contact segmentation allows email targeting towards specific groups of individuals. Doing this ensures that each recipient is receiving emails relevant to them, resulting in improved chances of open and click through rates. Additionally, try one-to-one email marketing as a way to engage with high interest contacts in a personal way.

Take risk

It’s always a best practice to avoid messaging which might be viewed by some as controversial or divisive, though that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t think outside the box with your email marketing campaigns. Use an exciting subject line to pique the interest of your subscribers. Identify and speak to the pain points your subscribers might be experiencing. You can even try to make them laugh with a bit of humor. Be inventive and spark curiosity in your messaging!

Think big picture

Each of the tips above can be employed by any business to increase open rates and engagement with email oriented campaigns. Just like with any approach to growth, a holistic one will yield the best results.


About InboundAV

Looking for more guidance on how to increase open rates by practicing Inbound strategies to up your marketing game? Inbound AV posts weekly blogs and social media content with how-tos and best practices on marketing strategies made to drive business growth. 

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