7 Irresistible Email Marketing Subject Header Formulas

screenshot_89Despite all the hype around social media marketing eMail marketing is still a top online tactic in generating ROI for marketers.  However, marketers need to really think about headers in emails that can increase open rates.

You wrote the most epic content for your website, and with great expectations, loaded it into your email marketing software.

And waited.

And waited.


Eventually, like the diligent person you are, you checked the numbers, only to find that the majority of the people on your emailing list never even opened the email…


Well, there are 3 possible reasons for this:

  1. Your reputation sucks.
  2. Your subject header sucked.
  3. The first paragraph of your email sucked.


If the reason for low opens is a sucky subject header, don’t despair…in this post, I’ll give you 7 formulas you can use to create an irresistible subject header no one will want to trash…

Formula #1: Use the keyword as the first word

If you’re sending an email about social media, use “social media” as the first words of your subject header, like this:

[Social media] tactics that work

Say your content is about getting rid of weeds, the heading could read something like this:

[Get rid of weeds] in one day

Formula #2: Steal proven subject headers

Do an Internet search on proven email marketing subject headers, and adapt them to fit your content and business.

McMethod provides 21 of the subject headers Obama has used in his campaigns, such as, “Meet me for dinner”. Who could resist an email with that subject header? If it’s relevant to your email content, swipe it.

Formula #3: Scare ‘em with fear-driven headings

Stop [something terrible] by [offer].

Stop [Throwing Away Money on Bad Writers] by [Using This Writer Selection Guide].

The only thing keeping you in [something terrible] but with [offer] you can [get bliss].

The only thing keeping you in [debt] but with [our debt-free plan] you can [sigh with relief].

You hate [something terrible] but we love it. So let us [bliss].

You hate [mowing the lawn] but we love it. So let us [do it for you].

For [audience] struggling with [something terrible] we build [offer].

For [managers] struggling with [staff issues] we build [systems that make staff management easy].

[Something terrible] sucks, that’s why we build [offer] to [bliss].

[Waiting in queues] sucks, that’s why we [do it for you so that you save time].

Formula #4: Create desire to inspire

Discover [desire] just by [offer].

Discover [happiness] just by [downloading our Stress-Free guide].

You want [desire] without [something terrible].

You want [to get paid] without [the stress of managing accounts].

You love [desire] but you hate [something terrible]!

You love [feeling healthy] but you hate [exercising]!

Get [desire] just like [well known figure].

Get [beautiful skin] just like [Sandra Bullock].

Formula #5: Benefit from your competitors

Stop struggling with [competition] by [offer].

Stop struggling with [Neil Patel’s SEO domination] by [downloading this all-in-one SEO guide].

The one thing [competition] can’t do is [desire] and that’s why you’re [something terrible].

The one thing [Weight Watchers] can’t do is [exercise for you] and that’s why you’re [still feeling down in the dumps].

[Competition] promised [desire] but instead you got [something terrible].

[Weigh-Less] promised [weight loss] but instead you got [2 pounds heavier].

We love [competition] too except that it [something terrible].

We love [Hubspot] too except that [they don’t have an affiliate program].

Formula #6: Use mystery to peak curiosity

[Client] discovered the secret to [desire] and we can do the same for you.

[Joe Pulizzi] discovered the secret to [the ROI of content creation] and we can do the same for you.

The [pop-culture] guide to [desire] and escaping [something terrible].

The [Britney Spears] guide to [exceptional songwriting] and escaping [public failure].

9 out 10 [specific data] won’t/can’t/don’t/ever [desire].

9 out of 10 [digital marketing agencies] won’t [guarantee the results they promise, but we give you 1 month’s free trial].

How to [desire] even if you [something terrible].

How to [cut grass in 30 minutes] even if you [do it yourself].

Formula #7: Make it all about value

The only [offer] made for [target audience] who hate [something terrible].

The only [weight loss offer] made for [food lovers] who hate [compromising taste].

Finally! A [offer] for [target audience] that [desire].

Finally! A [weed eating program] for [homeowners] that [does it for you].

Our [offer] made/saved [client] $X … but you can have it for $Y.

Our [25% discount on PC’s] saved [Forbes] $10 000, but you can have it for $2000.

Start getting [desire] today by [offer].

Start getting [10% off your grocery spend] today by [reading this book on how to save].

Give us [small cost] and we’ll give you [desire].

Give us [one reference] and we’ll give you [10% of everything they spend].

If after all this you are still stuck for ideas, check out these email marketing subject header tips to improve your email open and click-through rates.


About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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