3 Ways to Write Enticing Email Subject Lines


After you collect email addresses for your mailing list, getting your subscribers to open your emails is the next task at hand.

Writing enticing email subject lines for your email campaigns should be your first and foremost priority at this point. Not just any subject line, but writing a subject line that will actually get you results.

One that is exciting, intriguing and most of all, that it comes off to your readers as an email meant just for them!

So how exactly do you make an email subject line attractive to your mailing list?

There are several ways to go about this.

We have come up with 3 easy ways to catch your audience’s attention and have them opening your emails more often than ever!


1. Use Pain Points That Trigger Your Audience

Yes pain points!

What does your audience suffer with?

What problems do they have in common?

Why do they have these problems?

How can you be of a solution?

These are questions you should get familiar with. Treat your audience not like a customer but as a friend. You are there to help, educate and inspire. Be their friend and they will appreciate your presence.

Your goal should be to get to know your customers as best as you can. The more you know about them, the better you’ll be at figuring out what it is that they need your help with.

Show them that you care and that begins with caring enough to find out every last detail from every customer you serve.

Make sure you are segmenting your audience into different categories.

The point is to make them feel special and as if you are speaking personally to each individually with your email.

After you have studied your customers very well and only until then, will you be able to derive certain pain points they may be experiencing.

You may be asking yourself right about now: How exactly do I find these pain points?

There are several ways you can study your customer base and figure out their issues. One way to go about finding these issues is to send out a survey to your mailing list.

Here are a few tips on doing just that:

Send out a survey to your mailing list in which you ask things such as:

  • How can we make our business better suited for you?
  • What issues do you have (if any) with any of our products or services?
  • Is there an issue that our company has failed to fix for you?
  • Do you have any recommendations as to services we can offer that we currently don’t?
  • Do you have any recommendations as to how we can make you a fully satisfied customer?


Send out a questionnaire similar to the one above and make sure to offer a discount, coupon or anything that will want to make your readers fill this survey out.

Once you attain these answers, you can move on to step two, which is to create valuable content based off the answers you were given.

For instance, if you own a pet shop, some answers you may get from your customers are:

  • We don’t know which dog food to choose for our dog to lose weight, can you help us?
  • Our cat doesn’t want to use her litter box, why do you think this may be happening?
  • Can you have a discount program for every 5th purchase of a product or something?
  • My dog doesn’t want to go for a walk anymore. Why is my dog acting this way?


As a pet shop owner, you now will have a better idea of your customer’s pain points.

Now you can provide them with better offers and actual solutions.

When searching for pain points, try to figure out how your business can help them reach solutions.

Remember that value should be key in every interaction with your email list!

Don’t sell in every single email you send out.

For instance, you can send out an infographic on how to care for your dog’s overweight problems.

Or an article on how to make your cat happy in a new apartment.

Not every campaign has to be about generating profit.

You must strengthen the relationship with your customers and find solutions for pain points in order to establish this strong bond.

The information you find in deciphering your customer’s pain points is extremely valuable.

It’s almost like a cheat sheet which tells you exactly what your customers want, need and reasons why they are unhappy with a certain issue.

Write your subject lines revolving around these pain points you have discovered. Best part of all, by doing this, you will show them that you care and your subscribers will care for what you have to say!

2. Humor Breaks the Ice!

Who doesn’t like a good laugh or even a chuckle?

Humor is a good way to break the ice into what you are trying to say to your readers.

Even in daily face to face interaction, saying a joke or two can ease tension between the involved parties and continue onto a more comfortable conversation. This is used in the business world every day for that matter.

It is an entry point to bonding between two or more entities.

This same technique can be used for your email subject line!

Having a funny or witty subject line will spark the attention of your subscriber in a different way than if you had a dull uninteresting subject line.

Humor is a great tool for getting your subscriber’s attention because it just comes off with a fun vibe.

Your customers know that your goal as a business is to generate sales, so it is expected of you to send out typical offers and whatnot. However, when they see something funny, it’s different. It isn’t aggressive or pressuring at all. You can use this strategy to mask your message and break the ice.

Remember that your primary goal is to get subscribers to open your email.

It doesn’t matter that you have an amazing offer that no customer can refuse if they never open the email. Therefore, if you go with the funny subject line strategy, make it fun but keep it professional.

Getting a slight laugh from your subscribers is better than getting the email ignored altogether and if it is really funny to them, you may even change their mood!

Some examples of humor for your subject line can be:

  • “Licking your phone never tasted so good” – OpenTable
  • “Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)” -Groupon
  • “Need a day at the beach? Just scrath n’ sniff your way to paradise…” – Travelocity

Of course, depending on your business, you would create humor subject lines that would entice your customers and mailing list. Just remember to always be mindful of the humor you use.

Try to stay away from crude humor such as profanity or any derogatory terminology that may upset your subscribers.

The goal is to give them a chuckle and break the ice, not to make them unsubscribe.

Make sure you always add value and that it is relevant to your business.

Don’t just send random jokes that have no connection to who you are as a business.

Always come back to the objective and remind your readers that they are your customers and that you are happy to have them in your mailing list.

3. Use Numbered Lists

Numbers play a large role in the way people break down information. Numbers can create a sense of urgency or a sense of interest.

For example, an article that reads “Ways People Make More Money” will be far less appealing than an article reading “10 Ways People Make More Money“.

The number plays a big role in letting people know that there are 10 steps in achieving something or reaching some kind of conclusion. The same thing can be applied to your subject lines!

Using numbers to create a sense of urgency also works very well for subject lines.

With an urgency-type subject line, your goal is to make the reader feel that if they don’t read that piece of information, they will be missing out on something of high value.

For example, saying something like “5 things you need to know before buying a home”.

A subject line like that would create a sense of urgency especially if the reader is in the process of purchasing a home.

Once again, you must understand what your customers need in order to use numbers successfully in your subject lines. Remember to always aim to entice, inform, and to add value. If you care about your readers, they will care about you.

Some examples of using numbers on you email subject lines are the following:

  • “9 in 10 marketers are still making this simple mistake today”
  • “Top 10 ways to save on your electricity bill”
  • “100 ways to sell a product to your customers”

It is recommended that you use numbers that are easier to digest than others. What we mean by this is numbers that are used in common lists you find in magazine articles or similar types of documents. Numbers such as 3, 5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 for instance.

Numbers that may be a little more difficult for your readers to digest would be those such as 13, 17, 22, 39 or any other number that simply seems odd to be headlined for a certain list.

A title such as “23 Ways to Sell A Product to your Customers” can be good for SEO, but it just isn’t as attractive as “10 Ways to Sell A Product to your Customers”.

Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the number low.

People much rather know 1 sure way to achieve something versus 100 different ways to achieve that same goal. However, giving them a few options is also better than just giving them only 1 answer.

That is why “Top 5” or “Top 10” are among the most used numbers when it comes to creating headlines of all sorts. It is short, sweet with just the right amount of variety that it does not overwhelm.

4. Use All Three Strategies Together!

You can get creative and use all three strategies in one single subject line.

It can get a bit tricky, but you can experiment with the outcome.

The only downfall with this is that you won’t be able to evaluate separately which strategy worked best.

You won’t know if it was pain points, humor or numbered lists that got those open rates to rise. We recommend you try this after you have tried each one individually. Mainly to get a sense of what your audience reacts to best.

After you have tried all three individually, you can mix it up and see what results you get.

Examples of using Pain points, Humor and Numbered Lists include:

  • “10 ways to use our detergent to clean those stubborn stains on your husbands Jeans”
  • “3 ways to beat the traffic, grab a cup of our coffee and avoid getting yelled at by your boss”
  • “5 healthy recipes to make with our chocolate and keep those calorie monsters away”

Use split testing to find the most effective subject line.

Bottom line

Remember that the goal is to entice and be appealing to your audience. The entire objective of your mailing campaign is first and foremost for your emails to be opened. This is the first and most important step.

You can’t get your customers to “Z” without having them go through “A” first. Therefore, regardless of which of the three strategies you use, make sure you do it wisely.

Remember to add value and show that you care.

With Pain Points, show them that you can relate to their issues.

Show that you understand their issues and offer solutions to those problems.

With Humor, let them know that you can be down to earth and personal instead of just a business out for their money. Humor brings out the character in you and can go a long way when it comes down to establishing a strong relationship with your clients.

With Numbers, explain to them in an easy to read fashion what it is you are trying to convey with your message. It can explain a task, instruct how to do something or simply be a list of tips to go about a certain issue.

As long as you write for them and not for yourself, you can utilize these three strategies and maximize greatly from them.

About the author

Alex Thomas

I've been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years and have worked with global and local companies on large scale SEO and PR campaigns. In my current role at Breakline, I'm responsible for winning new business, creating, implementing and overseeing SEO campaigns, social communications, online and offline media relations.

By Alex Thomas
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