A few years ago while looking at spreadsheets of client email open rates, I noted a powerful phenomenon. Certain types of subject lines consistently out-performed others. I would confidently say that subject lines with the elements I will list shortly, will outperform those that do not about 90% of the time.

If your goal is to get the highest open rate for your email campaigns, then I suggest you strongly consider this approach:

1) The subject line implies a benefit 
“Open now for a special offer!” vs. “Happy Thursday!” (what’s the benefit?)

2) The subject line does not alienate any subscribers
“Coming soon, you won’t believe your eyes!” vs. “Running Shoes That Will Blow You Away!”

Also note that the offer itself could alienate subscribers, so be careful. “Special offer for everyone who pays with credit card!” alienates even though it is for “everyone.”

Another subject line that can alienate is based on special dates. “Valentine’s Day Special.” What if someone does not celebrate Valentine’s Day but could, in theory, benefit from the offer? How about, “Special, limited time offer?”

3) Don’t be tricky
While the current email campaign might benefit from a sneaky subject line, such as “The Best Deal Ever!” (only to open it and it says “…”since this morning!”), trust with readers will drop on future campaigns.

Is this always the best approach? What about targeting niches? Isn’t that more powerful? Sometimes is does make sense to send out an email with “Last minute Valentine’s Day Solutions.” That said, If you have highly specific categories of products or services, you should segment your list accordingly. Besides, even if you think only half your list might be interested in something, you may be surprised that some of your members are willing to give new things a try.

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