9 Tips for Writing EPIC Email Subject Lines

August 14, 2020

It’s often said that one should not judge a book solely by its cover.

But hey, nobody said anything about emails!

The fact is that people DO judge emails by their subject lines.

According to a leading email management company, a ‘good’ open rate for marketing emails is between 15% to 25%.

The click-through rates are even lower.

Even for transaction related emails, which are not at all ‘salesy’ in tone, the open rates are only between 30 to 40%.

(Note: In simple terms, Open Rate = Percentage of of emails that are opened out of the total that are received)

This means that even if your email subject lines are crazy good, only about 2 out of 10 people will open them and even fewer will respond positively to the call to action.

I have been a successful affiliate marketer for 6-7 years now, and I can assure you that it’s possible to get much better results by using something known as segmentation .

What is Segmentation?

Segmentation simply means that the emails received by your subscribers are relevant to their position in your sales funnel.

For example:

If a person has just signed up for your email list or newsletter, they’re usually looking forward to their free gift.

Hence, this is not a good time to send them an email with the intention of upselling. All the pro-tips and insider secrets of email marketing as covered in great detail in Inbox Blueprint 2.0

I highly recommend that you take a look at it if you’re serious about actually making money online instead of just fantasizing about it.

People’s inboxes are more crowded than a shopping center on Black Friday.

If you want them to open your email and read what’s inside, your emails’ subject lines have to stand out.

Check out my 9 tips for writing EPIC email subject lines:

Tips for Writing Epic Email Subject Lines

1) Be Human:

A good subject line should sound like it was written by a human being and not a corporation. You can use wit, humor, sarcasm, curiosity, current events, cool stories, shocking facts, statistics etc. to make your title appealing and clickable. But whatever you do, don’t be overly-sensational and manipulative.

Fun Fact: My TWO Best Performing Subject Lines to date have been:

  1. Dude! (Stole that one from Frank Kern)
  2. OMG!

Simple, and I know they don’t say anything about the context of the email, but my emails delivered EPIC content, and I had an amazing CTR (click-through rate) from the content on both of those emails!

2) Goal: What is your intention for sending out the email?

The subject line does not have to be catchy just for the sake of it. It has to be in alignment with the content within.

If your subscribers realize that the content is not relevant to the subject line, they’ll feel tricked, get frustrated and quickly close or delete the email.

They may even mark it as spam or unsubscribe.

So even though you might ‘get the click’, you’ll not leave a positive impression and it will be very difficult to convert the prospect.

Here is an example of a catchy subject line that will get many opens but will eventually backfire:

I don’t care what your niche is, if you send out an email titled ‘Kim Kardashian’s Latest Nude Photo’, you’ll have a very high open rate.

Your subject line is pure gold – it’s naughty and invokes curiosity.

But once people realize that you’re actually trying to sell a course on productivity, they’ll get angry because you didn’t deliver what you promised in the title.

Also, many people do not want to receive such shady emails because they’re at work or in a serious relationship. Hence, they’ll most likely unsubscribe.

When deciding upon a subject line, think about what the content is about and the objective that you are trying to achieve. Come up with a very logical title and then frame it in an entertaining, interesting manner.

3) Relevance and Proper Timing:

A website about restaurants and nightlife sent an email with the subject line – 1/2 Off Cold Beer For the Next 3 Hours!

More importantly, the email was sent out at about 6:45PM on a Wednesday.

Let’s analyze why this particular email subject is so spot on.

First of all, it’s the middle of the week and work pressure is bound to be high. The tonality is very no-nonsensical and to the point. The sender probably understands human psychology very well and is showing empathy towards the subscribers who have probably had a very hard day and could definitely use a couple of chilled beers.

The email is sent right at the time when most offices close. This is when people usually spend a couple of minutes checking their smartphones and computers for messages and other social media updates. Had it been sent in the afternoon or morning, it probably would not have worked as well.

Mondays are bad for beer as most people have had plenty on a weekend and have lots of work to attend to.

Most people already have plans for the weekend and hence the email wouldn’t have had as much of an impact on a Saturday evening either.

In my opinion, the email did very well as it was crafted with a lot of thought and sent out at the perfect time to the right people.

3) Use Magazines.com for Inspiration:

If you’re ever stuck for inspiration in just about any niche, pull up Magazines.com and do a search for your keyword.

You’ll find TONS of inspiration in the MAGAZINE HEADLINES.

They pay big bucks to their writers for these, they’re what get the magazines picked up off of the shelfs in the grocery store, and are essentially the magazines’ email subject line’ 🙂

Write your own version of one of these!

I’ve got some of my BEST Email Subject lines and even squeeze page headlines from Magazines.com inspiration!

4) Ask a Question:

An email subject line that asks a relevant question can help people to get thinking the direction that you want.


While this is a good way to make the title stand out (visually), It’s considered to be rude and has a spammy feel to it.

I suggest that you simply type in first alphabet of each work in caps. Also, pay attention to the preview text. Often, It’s reflected after the subject line so make sure it draws the reader in.

6) Numbers and Stats:

These help to illustrate possibilities and projections of potential growth. The world is dominated by numbers.

Our life is controlled by numbers – It’s defined by the numbers on the weighing scale and in our bank account. Numbers are a strong indicator of performance. Use numbers wherever you can but not to give false hope.

7) Offers, Discounts, and Promotions:

Do I really need to say anything here? People love discounts.

8) Make readers feel special:

This can only be achieved if you know what they’re thinking. For this, you need to find out who they’re, where are they from, what do they like, how are they feeling at that very moment and so on.

Plenty of tools (free and paid) are available to study and analyze the demographics of website visitors.

Use them to write killer email subjects as well as for product/content development.

9) Test various subjects: Keep records and see what works best!

This is crucial as the only way to improve your performance is to measure it and keep track of it.

Don’t be scared of failure, kick it in the arse! 🙂

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below!


About the author 

Jeff Lenney

Welcome to my corner of the internet! I'm Jeff Lenney, your navigator through the exciting seas of Affiliate Marketing, SEO, and ECommerce. My journey started back in 2009, and since then, it's been a whirlwind of success and fun in the digital world.

Before I dove headfirst into the vast ocean of affiliate marketing, I honed my SEO skills with some of the biggest agencies in sunny Southern California. I've been the SEO compass for 7-9 figure giants like Agora Financial, Investor Place, and Timothy Sykes, guiding them through the complex currents of online visibility.

But wait, there's more! I've also worked quite extensively with affiliate marketing legends like Anik Singal, Jimmy Kim, Aidan Booth, Dori Friend & others. Did I mention I was Anik's head coach from 2012 to 2015? Yeah, I've been around the block a few times!

My expertise isn't just confined to the boardroom. I've shared my knowledge and experiences on numerous podcasts, shedding light on the intricate dance of affiliate SEO.

So, whether you're a seasoned pro looking to catch the next big wave or just dipping your toes into the digital marketing ocean, I've got a treasure trove of insights for you. Stick around for fun tales, savvy strategies, and maybe a few laughs as we debunk myths and explore the latest trends in the world of online marketing. 

Dive into my posts and let's make some waves together! ✋ My Name is Jeff Lenney. I'm an Affiliate Marketer, and Search Engine Optimization Expert with over 10 years experience. I like to talk about marketing, SEO & ECommerce, so read my other posts here: Jeff Lenney's Articles

  • Perfect timing! I’m spending the Day writing copy and emails for my 2 niche’s ( still grinding away Bro!)

    I will hit 10K month and I will go full time online! Internet Marketer, or digital entrepreneur is my title I just haven’t got there yet 🙂

    Still, my Day job as an Aussie Golf Pro is great too, some might say keeping me to comfortable ?? what do you think..

    As always ( Years now) love your work mate

    Aussie Steve

  • Wonderful article Jeff, the biggest struggle for email marketers is to increase there open rate ratio from there email list. You have given some pointers how to do just that. Thanks again.

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