How To Write A Good Email Subject Line

Editors Note April 19th, 2016:

Taking a look back at this blog, the reasoning and algorithm suggested below still pertains to current best practices in subject line strategy.  Creating an engaging subject line is one of the only ways you can truly get your audience to open the email you designed, wrote and worked so hard to craft. Putting all your time into writing your email, blog or book could be wasted if the subject or title doesn’t intrigue anyone enough to actually read it. Consider spending significantly more time on strategizing how best to entice your audience into opening your work; it’s time well spent to avoid missing out on precious potential readers.

“What’s all the fuss in creating a nifty subject line? I’ve written creative content, and I think that my subject line will make my audience want to read my piece, plus, why wouldn’t they want to anyway?”

In any piece of writing, whether that be a blog or an email newsletter, the subject line or title is the key for someone to want to read your content.

“Think of your subject line as the title of your book.”

The statement you’ve heard is true: You should spend more time creating an engaging subject line than it takes to actually write your content. It makes sense; others won’t read your story unless you create a compelling title that MAKES them want to read it. Map it out, play with different words, ask for advice, and try using the algorithm I break down, below.

Subject Line Algorithm:

Use a Trigger word or Number + Adjective + Keyword + Value

Trigger Words: 

“What, “Why”, “How”, or “When.” You can also use a number as a trigger as well. Trigger words are typically used to create purpose of what the subject will reflect.


Think engaging. Some examples would be:


Think of one item that you want your email to focus on. There may be many aspects that are included in your email, but create one that sticks out the most.


What purpose and benefit is your reader going to get from opening your email? Ensure that your subject line represents a statement or question that your reader is going to want to know more about.

You can move around the algorithm as well to better situate your subject line. For instance, if you were to send an email talking about cooking string beans, a subject line of “Cooking String Beans” could be:

“12 Awesome Ways To Cook String Beans” or “Why Cooking String Beans Is Fascinating”

Recently, our monthly newsletter, “HOT AIR” (we’d fancy you for signing up), focused on our 20 Year Anniversary. We could have used a subject line such as “Our 20 Year Anniversary,” however this wouldn’t be enough to make a reader say “YES. I WANT TO READ THAT.”

Instead, we used “20 Years and Still HOT.” You can see our trigger was a number, “20,” “Years” was our keyword, and “HOT” was our adjective. We wrote a statement that engages the reader to want to know what “20 Years and Still HOT” means.

Don’t let all that hard work you put into writing your masterpiece go unnoticed. It’s time to step it up and show that your content is worthy.