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8 Battle-Tested Ways to Increase Email Open Rates

When it comes to email marketing, engagement is the key to driving long-term ROI. The more engaged your email list is, the more likely they are to open your emails and take the desired action. But to reach that level of engagement, you need people to open your emails (each and every one).

Wondering how to intice people to open your emails?

Well, your subject line is the key to that. An effective subject line is like a magnet to draw in your visitors.

Below are eight tips to make the right first impression right every time.

1. Include Emojis and Symbols in Your Subject Lines

Adding visual elements like emojis and symbols can elevate the response on your subject lines. Experian reports that brands using emojis in their subject lines saw a 45% increase in their unique open rates. But, I am not advocating filling all your subject lines with them. Given below are some tips and examples to show you how to use them well:

  1. Use one that complements your message
  2. Use them sparingly
  3. Don’t forget to run split tests before deciding whether emojis are a good fit for your audience

Here are some great examples of how to use emojis in your subject lines:

Subject line with emojis

Subject line with emojis

Subject line with emojis

2. Capture Attention With Numbers

Numbers work. Using numbers in the subject line can create urgency and can be a good trigger to get more opens. Use them wisely to highlight your offer and compel your subscribers to open the email.

Here are some great examples of how to use numbers in subject lines:

Subject line with numbers

Subject line with numbers

Subject line with numbers

3. Trim Your Subject Line

No matter how good your subject lines are, they won’t work if people can’t read them. So make sure to keep them under 50 characters. Why? Because nearly two-thirds of emails these days are opened on mobile devices, and your subject lines will appear truncated if they’re too long since the average mobile screen can only fit four to seven words max.

Take a look at this one from Expedia:

Short and personalized subject line

The reason why I love this subject line is that not only is it concise, but it’s personalized, too. Also, it clearly tells what’s inside for me.

4. Give a Creative Twist to Your Subject Line

Keep in mind that inboxes are full of marketing messages these days– so to capture your audience attention, it’s important for you to stand out from the clutter. After all, your emails are unique. Your subject lines should be, too.

Check out some great examples of creativity in subject lines:

Creative subject line

Secretsales have added personalization in their subject line in an entirely unexpected way. They added the name of the recipient before the sender’s name in the “From” field to avoid being generic and to get noticed.

Of course, disrupting normal patterns may or may not work for your brand, so split test before you use it in your email campaigns.

Creative subject line

DSW sets its subject line apart by capitalizing it at each end.

Caution: Don’t capitalize everything. Subject lines that use all caps are most likely to land in the spam folder. But when used sparingly, capitalization has the power to draw readers’ attention.

5. Use Personalization

I know I sound like a broken record, but using personalization is another good way to make your subject lines stand out.  The personalized one will certainly outperform the non-personalized one. At Betaout, we conducted a study: We sent over 1000 emails, half with the personalized subject line and another half with a non-personalized one. The personalized one had a 24% higher open rate. But, if you don’t want to use a subscriber’s first name in the subject line, you can use conversational words (like you, your) that will make your customers feel special.

Given below is an example from

Personalized subject line

6. Add Clarity and Exclusivity to Your Subject Line

Clarity rules. Keep in mind that people only a glance at your email before deciding whether to open it or ignore it — so the more clear and succinct your subject line is, the better. But simply being clear will not help you stand out in a crowded inbox. To capture attention, you need to juice up your subject lines, you need to make it enticing and exclusive. Remember, people tend to open emails that look like they were created just for them.

Take a look at how DSW, a shoe retailer uses this approach:

Personalized subject line

This subject line of DSW catches my eye for its personalization. And by personalizing, I don’t mean my first name (though that’s definitely one good way to use it). It’s about being so targeted and relevant that it can only delight the receiver. When you get a subject line that resonates so much, it induces an open.

Don’t wait for people to open your email and find out what’s in it. Make it immediately obvious with your subject line.

7. Harness the Power of Data to Stand Out

Data-driven personalization is the best way to make your email messages highly relevant. When you give people what they’re interested in receiving, they’re bound to open your emails. Data gives you the power to do that. Given below are a few examples to show you how to craft compelling subject lines from just nuggets of customer data:

Personalized subject line

I received this email from Gilt, when I added a product in their “Waitlist.”

Personalized subject line

Hotwire Deals sent me this after I searched hotels in Paris on their site.

Data is often overlooked when creating subject lines. If you’re not using data, start today.

8. Send Permission-based Emails

Finally…. make sure you send emails only to people who are interested in receiving them. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re using every single tip above, if your emails are not going into the right inbox, all your efforts will fall flat. Also, don’t forget to update your email list regularly as it expires at a rate of 25% per year.

These tips can go a long way in improving your open rates. But the only way to be sure is to test and measure.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Violin/DepositPhotos
In-post Images: Screenshot by Reshu Rathi. Taken December 2016.

Category Content
Reshu Rathi Inbound Marketing Manager at Netcore Solutions

Reshu Rathi is the Inbound Marketing Manager at Netcore, an AI-powered growth marketing platform. She has been in the internet ...

8 Battle-Tested Ways to Increase Email Open Rates

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