Top 10 Email Subject Lines — Top 10 in Concept Metal Letterpress Type

10 Ways to Get More Opens

Email subject lines can be tricky. One false move and you cut your open rates in half.

And you know that brilliant message inside that you sweated blood to perfect? The folks you most want to see it probably never will.

Subject lines deserve serious attention.

That’s why I’ve put together this case little study to look at the best email subject lines I sent last year.

Who was the judge, you ask?

The folks on my eLetter list — maybe even you!

And they voted with their clicks, to either open or not.

If you stop and think about it, an email subject line is like the front door to your shop. If it doesn’t attract interest, people will just pass by.

So how do you make them want to peek inside?

Let’s find out by looking at the 10 email subject lines that got the highest open rates.

In fact, I’ve thrown in #11 and 12 as well — after all, why stop at 10?  🙂

So here are the winners:

My Top 12 Email Subject Lines of 2018

Just keep one thing in mind. Open rates aren’t the metric that counts most. What ultimately counts is clicks and sales.

But first, we need to get your readers to OPEN your email so they can get in on the goodies you’ve surely offered inside.

Let’s look at each subject line then, from the list of top performers, and see if we can figure out why each one worked.

You’re welcome to steal any of these subject lines. But you’ll be WAY better off if you understand WHY they work — so you can write your own killer email subject lines, and start getting the open rates you’re after.

Okay then, let the countdown begin!

We’ll start with #12…

#12:  3 “Magic Words” to explode your sales

This one starts off with a number.

And an odd number at that.

Using a specific number makes the copy seem real, believable. It doesn’t look like the writer or speaker just made something up off the top of his or her head. And knowing there’ll only be three makes it seem less daunting.

Then there’s that promise of something “magic” inside — especially if there might be an explosion… It hints of an action movie, entertainment… Or maybe something to avoid.

And who can resist a little more excitement in their day?

#11  Now write better copy faster than ever

This subject line promises a clear benefit to the reader. That much is clear.

But notice how it’s packed with superlatives: Better… Faster… Now… Ever…

Sometimes you just need to make a big promise, and in this case I think that’s what won this subject a spot in the top 12 of 2018

#10:  How to help me help you today

“How to” offers the reader a chance to get good at some aspect of his or her life they feel could be better. In fact, you could write nothing but “how to” subject lines and probably get consistently high open rates.

The phrase “help me help you” catches your eye — why?

Maybe it’s the word help repeated… maybe it’s the quirky logic… who knows, but for some reason people responded by opening.

The fact that it offered the immediacy of getting help “today” almost certainly didn’t hurt either.

#9:  Weekend Edition (read now for best results)

Quite frankly, this one surprised me. I really didn’t think it was a great subject line. What do you think?

Sometimes you just need to put the best copy you’ve got out there in the time you’ve got and see how people respond — even if you’re not totally satisfied.

My guess is that the pairing up of a “Weekend Edition”, which implies something timely, reinforced with the command to “read now” that impelled subscribers to open the email.

#8:  Last Chance (Today’s the Day!)

Big principle at work here: Fear of loss trumps desire for gain pretty much every time. And this subject line makes it clear that you need to take action quickly or lose out.

Which points out another key direct response copywriting principle: You need to get people to take action in the NOW. Remember, we’re overloaded with opportunities to respond — later means never.

One last point: I’m not sure why, but for some reason, adding brackets or parentheses to a subject line increases open rates. If you run your subject lines through, you’ll notice it gives lots of points for this tactic.

#7:  When your ad copy sucks (fix it now)

The logic in this subject line is just a tad wonky, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, “when” implies some distant “not now” time… But then we’re told to “fix it now”… Huh?

Still, it got a great open rate. And how can you argue with that?

It just goes to show that your copy doesn’t need to be perfect grammatically, or even logically, as long as your reader grasps the benefit of taking action right away. This piece gets away with it because it’s very conversational.

#6:  Should you pee on this ad today?

Okay, so I know it’s weird — let me explain…

The email was about an ad for a new kind of pregnancy test, as I recall. In fact, the ad itself, being in a print magazine, actually had some kind of film that was chemically reactive. Hey, don’t shoot the subject line writer — they’re just describing what was in the ad.

Weird, yes. But it did get lots of opens.

You don’t want to outright plagarize, but you can sometimes piggy back on already existing copy to get good open rates with your subject lines.

#5:  Don’t miss out — Sign up Today

Nothing clever here. Just straight-shooting loss aversion + urgency.

Not much more to say about this subject line other than to remember in general, clarity trumps cleverness.

#4:  New Post: 7 Hot Copy Hacks

It’s new… It’s hot… and it’s specific (7).

Remember, emotion drives action.

And when a specific new thing promises to be “hot”, it gets your greed glands going.

That and the idea of “hacks” hinting at a perhaps an ever so slightly naughty way of gaining an unfair advantage seals the deal. It gets that “lizard brain” we all have, that decides faster than any other part of the brain whether to approach or avoid the object of its attention, to urge immediate action.

#3:  Weird fact about your homepage

This subject line just had to work.

Talking about anything weird or strange is almost impossible to ignore. Especially if it’s a “fact”.

And even more so when it relates to something as crucial to your business as your homepage!

#2:  Hate your homepage? Do this today

First of all, this subject line hooks into one pain pretty much every reader (business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs) has.

So they instantly feel, “Oh, yeah — that hurts!”

And then there’s the implied promise of a way to get over it TODAY.

Note, no explicit claim is made. When you paint a powerful picture without making a claim, your copy will move mountains

#1:  Dying is easy… Copywriting is hard

Rules are made to be broken.

I think this subject line contradicts the rule that clarity beats cleverness. It’s clever, but gets the point across.

That said, it’s also an example of how you can take a popular phrase and twist it to your own ends to make a great subject line. Cliches, famous quotes, popular movie, book and song titles, etc. can be fodder for great subject lines

Now it’s YOUR Turn

If you spend any time, effort or money on creating content inside your emails, don’t you want to make sure they get opened?

Of course you do!

That’s why it’s worth as much as 80% of your time getting the subject line right!

Now, go write some killer subject lines!

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Mike Connolly
Mike Connolly

Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers and Infusionsoft Certified Partner, Mike Connolly lives in Boulder, Colorado, builds marketing funnels that rock, and loves cycling (almost) all year round.