This post is brought to you by Emily McGuire, owner and chief email marketer at Flourish & Grit, an email marketing and automation studio — and a member of Jottful Community. Want more email marketing advice? Check out Flourish & Grit’s email marketing courses, checklists, and guides.

Let’s talk about juicy subject lines.

Yes, they make a difference in how many people open your emails.

I’ve tested and tested and tested subject lines for a wide variety of industries (ecommerce, retail, b2b, salons, health coaches). You name it, I’ve tried it.

Are there generalized strategies that get more opens? Yes, there are a few.

BUT mostly, methods for developing subject lines depend on your brand and the experience you want your customers to have.

Like anything in the marketing world, it’s important to TEST your content to hone in on EXACTLY what resonates with your ideal customers.

Here are five tried-and-true tips that will set you lightyears ahead of your competition.

1. Avoid subject lines that have nothing to do with the content of the email (i.e., clickbait).


Your order information inside.

»»» Important updates to your account

I have seen these subject lines used for a weekly promotional email. I fell for it, opened the email and was immediately miffed (do people still say miffed?)

I have also worked on campaigns that tried this method and tested it against a more content-appropriate subject line.

The click-bait type of subject line got way more opens.

Guess what else the click-bait type of subject line got way more of? UNSUBSCRIBES.

Yeah, people don’t like being tricked. It’s almost like they’re normal humans who appreciate respectful communication. Weird, right?

2. Don’t use tricky sender names that are not immediately recognizable as your brand.


Taylor Borgenstein

Billeremy Smithwisen


I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten an email from some random name.

The subject line doesn’t tell me much about how I know them either.

Is it SPAM? Is it someone I met a long time ago and forgot their name? Is it my potential new best friend?

Who knows?!

I open. I see who it’s actually from and then guess what I do? I UNSUBSCRIBE.

Again, I’m not alone here. I’ve tested and the same results happen.

Try this instead:

Taylor Borgenstein | Corporation Inc.

Billeremy Smithwisen from Do-Gooder 501(c)(3)

Sammabelle of ​Really Cool Company Name

3. Think customer first.

When developing a subject line, always remember, WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM?

(That should be at the core of your content strategy to begin with.)

DTE Energy, in an admirable bid to improve their service, sent me an email with the subject line: “DTE Energy would like your opinion.”

Well isn’t that nice. But what’s in it for me?

Why would I want to take precious time out of my day to fill out their survey, especially when I have at least 20 other emails in my inbox begging for my attention?

DTE didn’t think from their customer’s perspective.

We need to give recipients an incentive to open the email, read it, click it, then complete the requested action.

Here are some better, customer-focused examples:


XX-minutes of your time to shape the future of energy.


Giveaway time! Give us 2 minutes of your time and enter a chance to win _______.

 4. Use this formula for creating a subject line that connects.

BENEFIT + YOU/YOUR + WHEN = ↑ Open %%% 

Lemme break that down.


What benefit are you promoting in your email?

  • Giveaway
  • Special offer
  • Products/Services/Content that’s gonna change their world


Include this word to bring home that this life-changing offer IS JUST FOR THEM.

Including a personal qualifier like “YOU/YOUR” has been proven to increase opens.

See these examples of subject lines?

They know the importance of including the word “you” or “your.”


  • Why now?
  • Is there limited-time pricing/quantities?
  • Is space limited?
  • Is there a deadline?

Don’t expect your audience to know:

  • You only have a certain number of items
  • Your services are only available for a certain number of clients
  • Your offer ends on a certain date
  • The price goes up at a certain time
  • Tell them why they need to take action right now.

5. Include appropriate emojis and characters. 

People love throwing emojis and characters into subject lines.

If used appropriately, they can boost your opens.

But don’t just throw them in willy-nilly.

It’s genuine marketing that gets the long-term results. It connects with your audience and creates a feel-good experience.

So if your audience is likely to appreciate an emoji or character here and there, then spend some time familiarizing yourself with what might work with your content.

Now, what can you do to play with your emails this week?