How to Write Email Copy that Gets Opened – 11 Tips to Get Readers to Click

Struggling with a low open rate is a real concern for businesses that are building their email list and trying to connect with their customers through email. Not only are you missing out on potential sales, but you are also paying for an email service without your list even reading your content. No good!

We’ve discovered some of the ways to get your emails to stand out in the inbox.

“When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tellwhat’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”
— MailChimp

11 Tips for Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

  1. Promise something exceptional. If your free giveaway is run-of-the-mill, not one will bother opening it. However, if people know specifically what they’ll learn and it is outstanding information that will improve their lives, you better believe they’re going to click on your email. They’ll be dying to read more.
  2. Use powerful words. Emotional and sensory words will attract attention. Use words that trigger emotion or involve the senses to stand out in their inbox.
  3. Use a number. Numbers will stand out in an inbox because they aren’t words. Your eyes will be drawn to them and it will stimulate curiosity. Numbers tend to stop wandering eyes. Share a statistic or the number of benefits your readers will have when they read your email.
  4. Generate curiosity. I tend to delete half of the emails that I read because I can tell from a bland headline that they will likely be selling me something I don’t need or care about. However, the great copywriters will trigger my curiosity with unique or bizarre words. They may share some unusual information that isn’t common knowledge.
  5. Use common mistakes. Admit it, you’ve opened one of those emails that starts out, “Avoid these common mistakes when buying your…” We all want to be smart when making purchases. Therefore, we want to know what the common mistakes that other buyers are making. You want to be smarter than the average buyer out there.
  6. Use simple and specific subject lines. Trying to be too clever or use alliteration in every subject line may be a bit too much for your audience. People want to cut to the chase quickly. They don’t want to waste their time. Copywriting isn’t about flowery language, similes and metaphors. Save that for English class. Be succinct.
  7. Mix it up. After a while, the same things don’t work in email marketing. It is good to mix up your emails with a different style or different message. If you only send out sales promotions, your readers will stop reading them when they don’t want to buy something. However, if you send out some informational emails, some sales promotions and some useful training videos, your audience may take more interest in your emails. They may stand out a bit more.
  8. Learn from the masters. Subscribe to your competitors email lists. Analyze and take note of their subject lines. You’re bound to learn something from your competitors.
  9. Know your audience. Knowing your audience’s hopes, fears and desires is key to appealing to them. If your target market is senior citizens, they won’t be opening emails about how to pay for college. Most of them have already paid for college and are more interested in funding a retirement. Make sure that every email you send is targeted to your list.
  10. Use a call to action. A call to action will generate a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out. For example, “Grab your tickets for X before they sell out!” The headline not only tells the reader to do something, it also lets them know that without action, they may miss out on a great event.
  11. 56% of brands using an emoji in their email subject line had a higher open rate than those that did not. Jazzing your subject line up with an emoji is a good way to draw attention to your email.

Examples of Great Headlines

Sumo’s Best subject lines provide us with some examples of their top headlines.

Subject Line                                                                                           Open Rate
1. I was right – and that’s not good for you                                                69%
2. 13 email marketing trends you must know                                          64%
3. Before you write another blog post, read this                                      61%
4. Are we still on for 12?                                                                                61%
5. You don’t want FOMO do you?                                                                 60%
6. We’re starting in 5 HOURS                                                                        59%
7. Missed you, how’s Thursday?                                                                   59%
8. How 35 influencers grew their sites from 0-10K visitors                   57%
9. It’s time to rethink Black Friday                                                               57%
10. How to Google-proof your mobile site in 2017                                   53%

As you examine these headlines, you notice that they use the 11 tips that I mention in their emails. Each email either promises something great, generates curiosity, is powerful or uses numbers. All of the subject lines are simple and to the point. Because they all follow these guidelines, they have a really high open rate.


Email marketing that doesn’t get opened is absolutely useless to your business. Your customers need to be drawn in by a fantastic headline. Then they need to be engaged in interesting, funny or useful content. Practice recognizing good headlines and writing them out. Before long, you’ll master engaging headlines. Your audience will be eager to read your emails.

“A subject line is like a newspaper headline, a title on a book’s spine, or the key slogan of a print media ad. It tells the user what this is all about. And it should do so in sparkling style — seamlessly channeling your brand.”
— Win Goodbody, senior product manager, Sitka Technology Group

5 Replies to “How to Write Email Copy that Gets Opened – 11 Tips to Get Readers to Click”

  1. Top post on How to Write Email Copy that Gets Opened – all 11 tips are great!

    Getting high open rates are a real problem for email marketers in recent times, I know my email open rates have dropped considerably of late.

    I’m definitely going to implement these tips and try out a few of the best headlines, or variations of them.

    Great post, thanks 🙂

  2. Hi Melinda, great information here to get those emails opened. Really enjoyed your writing style, easy to consume. Will definitely return in the future to learn ALL the copy writing tips 😉
    All the best

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *