5 Little-Known Subject Line Tips to Get Your Emails Opened

Jenna Kutcher 

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August 13, 2020


Another week, another newsletter, another blinking cursor in your face as you try to figure out WHAT in the world to type into that subject line. After all, these few little words are the most important part of the email. They determine whether or not someone clicks open your message to read it (or just clicks the trash can before giving it a chance).

That’s… a lot of pressure. What we write inside the actual email may or may not even get read if the subject line isn’t catchy enough! Yet, it can be so challenging (and paralyzing) to think of what to say and make sure it follows a bunch of guidelines, including making it:

  • Compelling
  • Concise
  • Urgent (but not too pushy)
  • Personalized
  • Curiosity-triggering

How can you do all of that in just one short statement?! Well, friend, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. As email marketing’s #1 fan-girl for the last, oh, 5 years, I have been honing and refining my email process to make it as effective as possible. A big piece of the puzzle? Exceptional subject lines that DON’T stress you out.

My go-to subject line tips to improve open rates

Keep these tips and tricks in mind as you write emails, and don’t be afraid to get creative, and even a little weird! Out-there, uncommon, and sometimes even silly copy stands out in marketing—and you WANT to stand out when it comes to busy inboxes. Here are a few of my favorite ways to make emails more eye-catching.

“Out-there, uncommon, and sometimes even silly copy stands out in marketing.”


01. Ask a question

One of the BEST ways to grab someone’s attention in their inbox is through asking questions. Why? Because as humans, we love giving our insight and being asked for our own stories and feedback. Even though this is written communication between your brand and the audience, questions are still a powerful way to capture their interest and get them to want to find out the message inside the email.


  • WAIT, did you know this weird fact about [topic]?!
  • Can you BELIEVE this happened last week?
  • Why didn’t we come up with this genius move ourselves?!
  • What’s YOUR favorite _____?
  • Seriously… How are you really doing?

02. Pique curiosity 

I love when an email comes through that gives me no other choice but to open it because the subject line is just THAT juicy or intriguing. A little mystery can go a long way, and human beings are generally pretty wired to find out answers to their burning questions. Give a little peek into what’s inside the email—without giving away the entire enchilada!


  • Okay, I was not expecting this to happen the other day…
  • Umm, can someone tell me what this means?!
  • My jaw HIT the floor when I learned this about [general topic]
  • We all should’ve done this, like, 5 years ago…
  • Wow, I was shocked to learn this happens when _____!

03. Spell it out—just outright say what’s inside

It kills me—like, KILLLLLS me—when I hear through the grapevine that someone’s launching a new program or offer, yet I never get the exclusive, straightforward details about it in an email. Look, there’s a lot to be said about creative, captivating, and fun subject lines. But when it comes to your offers and launches specifically, it’s okay to give it to your email list straight.

Don’t get all cutesy here—say exactly what it is, and then let the creative copy do the leading inside of the email. People who WANT what you’re offering want to KNOW ultra-clearly when and how it’s available.


  • [Program name] is finally HERE! Details inside >>>
  • YESSS, [course] is still available for the next 48 hours!
  • Never struggle with _____ again… [Offer] has arrived!!!
  • *this is unheard of* [Product] is 25% off for the next 3 days!
  • You asked, we’re delivering! [Offer name] is here!

04. Use their name 

The sweetest word anyone can see, hear, or read is their own name. It just makes us feel all warm ‘n fuzzy ‘n special when we’re spoken to directly by name, don’t you agree? All email providers allow you to code in a subscriber’s first name to really personalize the copy both within the subject line and the body copy of emails.

Plus, psychologically, our eyes are drawn to our own names more naturally than other words. When someone’s inbox is packed with unread messages, odds are higher they’ll unintentionally come to an email with a subject line that includes their own name and click because it looks like a more personal message.


  • <name>, can I borrow you for a hot sec?
  • Whoa, <name>, I had no idea we had this in common…
  • I felt like you needed to see this today, <name>
  • Wish we could be cheers-ing margs right now, <name>!
  • OMG, <name>, have I got the story for YOU.

05. Try using emojis (if allowed by your email provider)

What is it about emojis that just makes everything so much more… interesting? It seems silly, but truthfully, in a place packed with WORDS (aka, email inboxes) a little visual stimulation can be much needed. And much appreciated. Now, I’m not saying to just replace words with emojis, but a *heart eye* emoji here or a *twinkly sparkle* there just adds some extra feels, you know? Use these sparingly, but have fun with them when the topic feels right!


  • I’m ob-sessed with this new _____ *heart eye emoji*
  • Let’s get rid of the overwhelm, k? *swooping star emoji*
  • YOU deserve to feel this good all the time. *flames emoji*
  • Did you know this one tool may boost your profits by 10%? *money bag emoji*
  • I’m spilling the tea *tea/coffee emoji*

Bonus: Google good headlines for inspiration

Think of subject lines as the headlines of your emails. When you’re scrolling Facebook or LinkedIn and see a link to an article, you aren’t going to click if the headline doesn’t catch your eye. Same thing’s true for subject lines! And luckily, there are endless examples of catchy headline templates and ideas in the ol’ interwebs. This is my fall-back when I’m really just stumped. Yup, the email maven herself uses GOOGLE for subject line inspo. (That means you can do it, too.)

Don’t worry—it doesn’t mean you’re any less creative! It actually means you’re more resourceful. Gather inspiration from other people who know what they’re doing, and then spin and tweak the verbiage to make it your own (and never-ever copy someone else’s headline/subject line word-for-word—that’s a no-no in the content creation world, and it’s plagiarism).

Remember, too: The first line of your email will show up as the preview text, so be super thoughtful in how you kick off your emails. Grab ’em with a hook or compelling anecdote of some sort! (Hint: These subject line tips also work really well for the intro sentence of your emails!)

Using these simple tricks, you’ll be crafting subject lines that lead to crazy-good open rates (and more eyes on the meat inside that matters)! Never underestimate the power of a crafty subject line. They’re the cherry on top of an excellent email!

Need help getting more names on your email list?

Download my free guide on how to serve ( AND GROW) your list!

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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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