How many emails do you receive a day? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? However many you get, it can be difficult to keep up with them all. Hundreds of billions of marketing emails are sent every year, all of them vying for consumer attention. The average person often doesn’t have time to meticulously read them all; many will end up in the junk folder or simply be deleted. To stop this from happening, you need to grab them by the collar and get their attention.

The good news is there’s an easy solution – write attention-grabbing subject lines. Some 64 per cent of people say they have opened an email as a result of the subject line; but, as you well know, it’s not always easy to write something provocative.

If you’re struggling for ideas on how to reel-in your audience, look no further than this article, as we’re about to outline five of the most attention-grabbing headlines, and why they work so well.

“10 jaw-dropping drift videos on YouTube”

The listicle is such an effective, but simple technique. You only need to browse the likes of Buzzfeed to see how many clicks, likes and tweets their articles gather every day, and there’s a good reason why they’re so popular. Human beings are pretty lazy, we always have been, and the majority of us don’t want to read an essay of an article, especially when we’re pushed for time on our lunch breaks. Give us a list of the ten fluffiest kittens or five worst Facebook status updates and we’re happy. Essentially, the use of a number in a subject line informs the reader that whatever they’re about to read, and in this case watch, will be quick, succinct and easy.
Moreover, the use of jaw-dropping here also implies that the reader’s going to be blown away by whatever you’re about to say. This makes readers curious; will these ten videos really be as good as this email says they are? The only way to find out is to click.

“Pay $1.99 for a new bundle of 6 STEAM games (48 HOURS ONLY!)”

One easy way to get more opens is to create a sense of urgency. If you make whatever is on offer limited in some way, whether by time or amount, the reader is more likely to buy now, rather than sit and think about it for a while (and then eventually forget the deal ever existed). Here, they’ve given the reader two days to react, otherwise they might miss out, and that’s something that people hate to do. We all tried to be cool in school, in fact, we haven’t stopped trying. Basically, we all like to feel a part of something, so we tend to follow the crowd, out of fear of being left out.

The capital letters here also help grab the reader’s attention; although these shouldn’t be over-used – people don’t want to feel as if you’re screaming at them. Moreover, the price makes the offer seem like a good deal, and as people will be curious to learn what the six games are they’re more likely to click-through and see, just to satisfy that need to know.

“Wall-E or Terminator: Predicting the rise of AI”

Pop culture references can prove to be, well, popular with your readers. As long as you know your audience and have done your research, such references will immediately appeal to their interests, making them more likely to want to read on. Not every person will get every pop culture reference – age, interests and background differences can all affect your rate of success.

However, this business has been clever with this headline, as it’s used two different references. One references an older film, therefore appealing to an older audience, whereas the other is from a fairly recently film, so most people, especially the young, will get it. Both films were blockbusters too, and are therefore pretty universally recognisable, so it’s unlikely that anyone will be left scratching their head. Film references aren’t your only hope though (see what we did there?), pop music references go down well too.

“How to live forever”

Admit it, you immediately want to see the email behind this subject line. Even if you don’t quite believe that the email is going to tell you how to live forever, the curious cat in you just needs to take a peek. It’s a bold promise to make to your reader though, so your email body must deliver, otherwise you’ll yield very few click-throughs and possibly damage your reputation in the process.

“How to” is also a great way to start any headline, as similar to the listicle, readers are promised that the following email or article is going to instruct them and help them achieve something.

“Panic”download the guide to email marketing subject lines

Why should I panic? What’s happened? What should I do? Many questions can be raised from one simple, emotive word. These questions need to be answered, something which can only happen if the reader opens the email. Plus, a person’s inbox will be full of long subject lines, but very few marketers will think to use just one word. Straight away, this means your email stands out, like a partridge amongst the pigeons.

Shorter subject lines tend to fair better with readers anyway. Subject lines that use fewer than ten characters have an open rate of 58 per cent, which is much higher than what longer ones manage to achieve. You won’t always want to use just one word to sum up your email, but used sparingly, it’s a great tactic to implement.

When it comes to email subject lines, it’s always a good idea to experiment and see what works best. Perform split A/B tests and measure the results. There’s also no harm in looking to your competitors to get some inspiration. What tactics are they using? It’s possible you could use something similar. Remember that getting it right and getting it wrong can be the difference between an email being opened and being left to die in the spam folder.