January 16, 2023

How To Boost Your Email Open Rate

How To Boost Your Email Open Rate

At Moxie, we’re suckers for a love-at-first-sight story. *Cue the swooning heart eyes!* We just love love LOVE a story about instant attraction. 

And that’s why we appreciate the magnetic chemistry of a well-written email subject line. When you think about it, it’s a LOT like a good rom-com: 

Girl walks into an inbox. It’s bustling with noisy senders, dizzying topics, and unnecessary exclamation marks – all desperately trying to get her attention! 

But she’s not interested in the same old blah-blah-blah. She wants something new. Fun. Maybe even a little . . . intriguing? (Yes, PLEASE.) 

Finally, halfway down the list, she locks eyes with an attractive turn-of-phrase. Her lush lashes flutter. The head-over-heels music fades up as her finger hovers over the mouse. 

And just one look is all it took. The subject line has her wanting to know more.

Suddenly – *CLICK!* – The relationship begins. 

. . . All thanks to the magical spark of an effective email subject line.

Here are 4 ways to write click-worthy subject lines:  

Once Upon a Subject Line . . .

Think of your email’s subject line as the opening sentence of a juicy novel. 

Do it right, and the reader won’t even think of putting down the book. They’ll not only want to know more, they’ll need to. 

Do it poorly, and they’ll click that little trashcan icon faster than you can say, “But wait, there’s moooore!”

How do we know? The numbers don’t lie:

Sobering statistics, right?

This is a make-or-break moment. If you’re treating a subject line like an afterthought, you could be missing attention (and sales!) from almost HALF your email list.

Let’s change that. And turn writing subject lines from a horror story into a real-life fairytale. So your email subject lines have your clients hooked, murmuring to their monitors, “You had me at hello!”

And more importantly? Get them to tap the “Buy Now” button.

As dedicated word nerds, we’ve got a few techniques up our sleeves to help you arrive at – “Oh, hey there, conversion rate! Lookin’ lovelier than ever!”

4 Ways to Write Subject Lines That Spark Chemistry

  1. The Curious Approach

Curiosity preps the brain to receive new info – like this fun little factoid: 

In 2014, a study at the University of California at Davis revealed that research participants who were curious about a fact were 30% more likely to remember it later.

Translation? Spark someone’s curiosity, and you’ve got their immediate attention (plus, a possible purchase!). 

Practice the curious approach by writing subject lines that create a question – aka “open loop” – in the reader’s mind. 

But a word of warning: don’t let your subject line create a question your email won’t answer. (No one likes clickbait!) It’ll frustrate readers and create distrust.

Think this: When I discovered this coaching tip, it changed everything 🤯 

Not this: This tactic will solve ALL YOUR BIZ PROBLEMS!!!

*Spoiler alert!* No, it won’t. And the all-caps, triple exclamation point whammy screams spam.

  1. The Friendly Approach

In all forms of marketing, tone is EVERYthing.

Emails from friends – or someone who sounds like a friend – get opened. But strangers get the business end of a delete button. 

Being friendly certainly isn’t a NEW approach to life or business.

In 1936 (back when a mouse had nothing to do with computers!) author Dale Carnegie understood the power of a warm, engaging approach. He even promoted it in his best-selling book How To Win Friends and Influence People – which sold 15 million copies and earned fans like Warren Buffet

But to this day, some entrepreneurs still believe that business = formality. 


A personal touch is More. Important. Than. Ever. 

You don’t sound like a corporate robot when you talk to your friends, right? (Cuz you’re obviously NOT one!) So don’t do it to potential clients and customers. 

Instead, encourage them to connect with you by using a friendly, relatable tone that engages them as people – not as targets to be acquired. 

Finally, remember that relationships are born of genuine interest and appreciation for other people. So your subject lines should evoke warmth and charm. (Pro tip: Use an emoji!) Be authentic – but don’t make the mistake of oversharing.

Think this: Your insight means so much to me ❤️

Not this: You’re the BEST customer in the world & all I want is to make you feel SPECIAL!!! 😍 

The second one is wayyy too long and dramatic. Plus, the major sap factor?! Overkill.

  1. The Shock Approach

People might say they don’t like surprises, but science says otherwise. Most humans relish them, particularly when we get a sneak peek.

That’s why adding an element of shock to your subject line will help it stand out in the crowd. 

But keep in mind: this approach only works if it doesn’t go too far. We’ve all met the evil twin of the shock approach. Does the name “Clickbait” ring any bells? (It’s ‘cause we mentioned it earlier!)

Don’t let your surprising subject line get mistaken for one that’ll earn a spammy reputation. 

Think this: Top 3 reasons to quit your job (no, really!) 😉

Not this: SECRET DISCOUNTS?! Customers Are Going CRAZY >>

Always do a gut check. If you think a subject line would feel sensational, smarmy, or just plain manipulative in your inbox, it’s the wrong one to send to your list. When in doubt, throw it out.

  1. The Classic Headline Approach

Thousands of newspapers can’t be wrong . . . right?

Journalists have been using the power of punchy headlines for more than 400 years, and it STILL works. Why? A compelling headline is like an exciting preview at the movie theater – it makes you eager to see the whole film! 

When you’re using the classic headline approach to writing an email subject line, use a strong action verb and clear, descriptive language. Then apply the “so what” test. If any subject line triggers the response “So what?” rethink your approach.

(Not sure if your subject line passes this test? Run it by that sassy friend who has no trouble doling out brutal honesty when you need it.)

Like you, readers have limited time. They don’t want to get sucked into emails that don’t deliver valuable content. Always make it clear to your readers what’s in it for them.  

Think this: 3 inspiring principles that helped Walt Disney build his empire 🏰

Not this: You won’t BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED to this entrepreneur (AND what he said about it!) 😳

*Yawn.* Too long. Too vague. Too shouty. And the reader has no idea why it matters.

Learn From Your Own Inbox

You don’t need a degree in creative writing to know which subject lines work and which ones don’t. You just need to pay attention to your own inbox. 

It’s like the boy next door who’s been right there all along! We interact with email (gobs of emails!) every day. So it’s time to put that experience to work. 

What do you instinctively do whenever you check your email?

Step 1: You scan the senders’ names and subject lines.

Step 2: Some subject lines make you go, “Ooh!” – and you open ‘em.

Step 3: Other subject lines get a shrug, an eye-roll, or an “Eww.” (You trash those.)

Because you’re already familiar with what goes through your mind while checking email, you’ve probably got good instincts for what sparks interest. (*Ahem* Ryan Gosling, anyone?) You also know what turns you off. 

The magic happens when you apply that intuition to any emails destined to land in someone else’s inbox. You want your message to be like the one person at a crowded party who looks interesting or fun – not the jerk who’s been dropping the same lame pickup lines since the ‘80s.

Always opt for truth over tricks. 

Get A Helpful Boost From The Subject Line’s Bestie

All this might sound like a lot of pressure for one little group of words. (Fun fact: Effective subject lines should only be around 41 characters long.)

The good news? Your subject line has help! It’s called “preview text” – the short-yet-POWERful phrase that appears after the subject line in an inbox. 

Preview text works like a wingman (or wing woman!). The subject line coaxes a reader to open the door, and the preview text persuades them to come in and stay a while. (Think John Cusack’s character in Say Anything. What if he never had that boombox to back up his feelings?! *gasp*) 

But don’t let the importance of the subject line and preview text make you freeze up. You don’t have time to analyze every word – and these tools boost your writing, fast.  

Just decide on an approach that feels right for your biz. Write a boatload of possibilities, and then let the best one float to the surface. (Oh! Hope Floats. LOVE that movie.)

Go with your gut on this. The perfect subject line + preview text pair is like a swoon-worthy rom-com. You’ll know it when you see it! 

Check It Once, Check It Twice

A few BONUS rules apply to the approaches above. So even if you nail the right tone for your subject line, don’t hit “send” just yet! Keep this checklist handy to make sure common mistakes haven’t crept in:

  • Use lowercase text for a more personal feel
  • Aim for a subject line between 4 to 10 words long (the shorter, the better!)
  • Avoid notorious spam words that’ll get your email sent straight to Siberia (aka, the junk folder)

Three little syllables: De-le-gate!

Don’t have the time or energy to come up with fresh subject lines on the fly? Let our team of dedicated copy pros take care of ‘em for ya. Heck, we’ll go ahead and write the whole email while we’re at it! (Yep. We’re classic overachievers.)

At Moxie, we get to know you and your *distinctive* voice. Think of us as your crew of behind-the-scenes marketing magicians. Cuz that’s what our copywriting agency is ALL about. By delivering customized, high-converting copy in a flash, we make it possible for your emails to spark connections all over the world. 

Ready to get started and see your open rates skyrocket? Get your exciting new email sequence today.

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship . . . or maybe something more. *wink*

Conversion Copywriting Direct Response Emails Email Open Rates Email Writing