5 Proven Subject Line Formulas That Force Readers To Click Open by Posted on March 29th, 2012

To follow up with yesterday’s tip about writing copy for your e-mail campaigns, I’d like to offer you 5 subject line strategies you can use that will increase your chances of getting a better open rate.

There are more than this, but to avoid overwhelming anyone with too much information, and to make sure everyone can take action, we’ll keep it down to these first five.

Here they are:

Approach #1 – Using Numbered Lists

An example of this would be the title of this very blog post.

Lists are very popular with many people (guilty)…

They are also very useful for e-mail subject lines. One benefit for your readers, is that it instantly gives them an idea as to how much info there is to read inside.


Keep in mind that using lists isn’t just limited to content e-mails.

If you’re an affiliate, for example, you could make a list of things you like about a certain product—or its benefits in general—and count how many you come up with.

Ex. “3 Reasons You’ll Love This Technique”

Approach #2 – Using Benefits

The main thing you’ll need to make these types of subject lines effective, is knowing your markets biggest/main problem(s).

The next biggest thing to remember, is to not make the e-mail about you. Try to avoid “I”, “We”, and “Our” statements too much – even if the message IS about you.

Some examples of this type of subject line:

“Want To Save Over $1,000 On Your List Management?”

“Write profit-pulling e-mails in a FRACTION of the time…”

“Get More Out Of Your Email Marketing”

Approach #3 – Urgency

Do you like missing out on great deals? Me neither…

By using urgency, you eliminate the chance for readers to “come back later” or think about it…


“Final 3 hours to save, ~FIRSTNAME~!

“Last Call: [product name] sale ends tonight…”

Approach #4 – Bonding

Obviously, you want to build rapport with your readers. And what better way than to bond with them in your e-mails?

These work because you are demonstrating that you “get it” when it comes to your readers. After all, everyone likes knowing there is someone out there that understands their frustrations…


“Building a list SUCKS…”

“Sick of hyped-up sales letters?”

“Google Hates Me…”

Approach #5 – Controversy

If you combine controversy with the tip above (bonding), you’ll be able to create subject lines that are extremely difficult to ignore…even for the most delete-happy subscribers.

The more relevant to current events, the better results you’re likely to have…

You can also create your own controversy by questioning common beliefs.


“YouTube Drops The Ban Hammer!”

“Showdown: FTC vs Granny Gardening Blog”

“Why SEO will get you nowhere…”

Closing Thoughts

Be sure to bookmark this blog post for future reference…

Using the proven formulas above will not only help you improve your campaigns’ open rates, but will hopefully make the actual writing process a lot more enjoyable.

If there’s anything that wasn’t clear, or you have anything you’d like to share…feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Mike Schwenk
Associate Marketing Manager
Multiple Stream Media

PS – If you missed yesterday’s video, be sure to check it out to see 3 Tips To Make Writing E-mails Easier.

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2 Comments → “5 Proven Subject Line Formulas That Force Readers To Click Open”

  1. Kit Burton

    4 years ago

    Thank You Mike any headline writing tips are greatly received. That old cliche is alive and ever so well ‘Copy is King’ . I particularly liked your point of combining controversy with bonding, we are, after all trying our best to get the grabbiest headline. [Grabbiest? – is that even a word.]

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    • Mike Schwenk

      4 years ago

      Hey Kit, you’re welcome! And you’re right…copywriting is an essential skill for any business.

      Have you checked out the video about getting quick headline and subject line ideas? I think
      you’d enjoy that one, too: http://mswnk.me/headlinestip

      Thanks for your feedback! :)

      PS – On freedictionary.com, apparently grabbiest is a word…haha

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