Email subject lines: 8 tips for better click-through

How many emails do you delete without even opening them? If you’re like me, it’ll be quite a few.

I’ve subscribed to plenty of things and never got round to taking myself off the mailing list. But, every so often, an email catches my eye and I end up making an impulse purchase.

Email marketing is an important and powerful business tool. It’s a great way of staying in touch with your customers, while also promoting your business.

And its ROI is roughly twice that of other digital channels.

Although, when you consider an estimated 196 billion emails are sent daily, it’s no wonder a large number of promotional emails are either deleted outright or left to languish in inboxes unread.

So, what is it about that one in a multitude of emails that makes the cut?

Like a good headline, a catchy email subject line is the first step in getting that all-important first click.

Here are some best practice tips to get you started and improve your click-through rates:

1. Keep it simple

Be clear and concise. Who’s got time for ambiguity?

2. Short and snappy

Fewer than 50 characters is the rule of thumb, otherwise, you risk being cut off. Literally.

3. Personalise

You don’t have to use a person’s name to personalise an email. In fact, it can be downright annoying and come across as spam. Mentioning the location and taking on a conversational tone that mirrors that of your audience can help build familiarity.

4. Be a minimalist

Using a single word can be an effective way to get someone’s attention. It can really stand out amongst a sea of wordy subject lines. But, don’t do this every time or it will start to look like an over-used stunt.

5. Include numbers

Our brains are naturally drawn to digits. Think ‘Top 10 tips’, ‘5 ways to improve’, ‘3 most annoying’, and so on. Special characters and emojis can have the same visual effect but again, don’t overdo it.

6. Pose a question

Asking a question is engaging and opens a dialogue, especially when it plays into your audience’s needs and wants.

7. Use humour with caution

A funny headline can work if you know your audience really well. However, it can also come off as cheesy and too ‘try-hard’, so if in doubt, leave the humour out.


No-one likes to miss out. Scarcity tactics can prompt action. Like a 24-hour sale, or discounts for the first 50 people to respond.

Of course, there’s a lot more to successful email marketing than a catchy subject line, but it’s a good start.

Here at Likeable Lab, we can help you turn clicks into sales. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch at

Now, excuse me while I take a coffee break to go and check out that pair of shoes I saw in my inbox this morning. They’re only on sale for 24 hours!

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