8 Email Subject Line GrowthHacks to Increase Open Rates

As I sit down to write this article I look back on the growth of email marketing and how businesses have come to adapt and adopt the technology to serve their needs.

Looking at companies or blogs today showcasing the numbers on their list, it simply baffles me and raises one question.

Does size really matter?

The only logical answer I can think of is, No.

A BIG email list Isn’t always best if you can’t get them to take action.

In fact, you will find bloggers on the web claiming that each month they add about 1000 new people to their email lists.

What they don’t tell you and what is most important is that how many of them open their emails or the open rates as we marketers like to call it.

You might have read about bloggers measuring success by the traffic they generate or the revenue their blog makes. If you are looking to measure the success of your email marketing campaigns, one of the important factors to look at is the open rates.

Other measurement metrics for email marketing includes and not limited to the following:

  • Click through rate
  • Social Shares
  • Purchase after click through
  • Forward to friends

If you are someone who is managing an email marketing program ensure that you use these metrics to track performance at different levels.

In this article we are going to focus on the foremost metric and try to tweak our email marketing strategy for better ROI.

Average Email Open Rates

I was able to find an updated benchmark results from MailChimp. This data is updated as of March 2015. This data will give you a base to start a comparative study based on the industry you are in. If your open rates are lower than the ones mentioned here respective to your industry, then you are going to have to do some A/B testing to improve your ROI.

If your open rates are much higher than whats stated here then you are doing good, but keep an eye out for changes as your client base grows.

Email Marketing Benchmarks

Industry Open Click
Agriculture and Food Services 26.09% 3.53%
Architecture and Construction 25.80% 3.45%
Arts and Artists 28.25% 3.04%
Beauty and Personal Care 19.90% 2.33%
Business and Finance 21.71% 2.97%
Computers and Electronics 22.03% 2.72%
Construction 22.81% 2.13%
Consulting 20.29% 2.62%
Creative Services/Agency 23.84% 3.13%
Daily Deals/E-Coupons 13.79% 1.91%
eCommerce 17.14% 2.69%
Education and Training 23.15% 3.11%
Entertainment and Events 21.75% 2.45%
Gambling 18.53% 2.26%
Games 22.47% 3.81%
Government 27.06% 3.66%
Health and Fitness 23.81% 3.19%
Hobbies 29.94% 5.79%
Home and Garden 26.14% 4.21%
Insurance 20.11% 2.25%
Legal 22.49% 3.10%
Manufacturing 23.95% 2.74%
Marketing and Advertising 18.89% 2.22%
Media and Publishing 22.96% 4.76%
Medical, Dental, and Healthcare 23.53% 2.82%
Mobile 22.78% 2.73%
Music and Musicians 23.19% 2.89%
Non-Profit 25.89% 3.03%
Other 23.55% 3.13%
Pharmaceuticals 19.05% 2.75%
Photo and Video 27.21% 4.18%
Politics 23.34% 2.34%
Professional Services 21.86% 2.83%
Public Relations 21.38% 2.00%
Real Estate 22.20% 2.29%
Recruitment and Staffing 21.51% 2.65%
Religion 26.97% 3.30%
Restaurant 24.77% 1.66%
Restaurant and Venue 23.09% 1.50%
Retail 22.54% 2.95%
Social Networks and Online Communities 22.54% 3.81%
Software and Web App 23.27% 2.80%
Sports 26.32% 3.63%
Telecommunications 20.63% 2.25%
Travel and Transportation 20.86% 2.52%
Vitamin Supplements 17.52% 2.07%

The Top 8 Email Open Rate Growth Hacks

Growth Hacks is a simple term used to define a growth methodology or strategy that otherwise might not have been applied. Even though the tips given here are quite common, there are hundreds if not through of bloggers and businesses getting it wrong.

Keep It Short

Email subject lines can make or break your email marketing efforts. Did you know that AWeber (aff link) has a two step spam prevention system that keeps their emails out of the junk folder. This is also one of the main reasons that bloggers and marketers love them.

  • The system tells you how spammy your subject line is.
  • If a user marks you emails as spam, they would stop future emails to that user even though it might show on your list as subscribers.

This 2 step system simple helps the business do better. However, the marketers on the other hand contribute to overlook these best practices and end up creating either spammy looking emails or emails that no one opens or reads.

Write a short email subject, try to keep it between 40-60 words. This way you will be precise in what you want to tell the readers and not over do it.

I know its hard, trying to convey your messages in 140 char was also hard, but we all overcame it and we continue to use Twitter.

Start With An Action Word (Verb)

The first and the foremost thing we want our email subscribers to do is to open our emails. That in itself is an action the subscriber needs to take. The only way they are going to open your email is if you give them a reason to.

In order to achieve this, simply using an action word (a verb) will improve your conversion rate. While you cannot add a verb to all your email subject lines, you can apply them wherever possible. Here are a few examples of email subject lines that start with a verb.


  • Accept the gift from your friend.
  • Decorate the hall for the holidays, please.
  • Encourage your children to read everyday.
  • Fix the hole in the boat so that it will float.

Simple list of verbs you can use

bathe explain face spray spell wash watch
zoom yell whistle unlock type step stamp
race receive lick like float breathe call
brush accept wave welcome attract behave belong
compare detect enjoy move offer pack record
rush sail talk switch taste use visit
wait wriggle juggle x-ray guide jump hammer
fear fax earn comb retire print open
complete water untidy wink program mark rob
press march return park label guide learn

Source: Helping With Writing

This is not the only list of verbs, there are a lot more and if you do your homework you will be able to come up with some really interesting subject lines that start with verbs.

Place Important Words At The Beginning

The words that are most important to us and the subscriber is not always the same. Its important that you strike a neutral zone where you use the words that are both important to you and your subscribers.

Again these words might not be verbs and its okay. Placing the word at the beginning of the subject line is important it does not have to be the first word.

Some companies like to use keywords, or brand words in their email subject lines and that’s okay as long as they deliver the message as intended.

Be Clear & Specific

One of the most common mistakes made by marketers is stuffing the email subject with fillers or unwanted words that distort the message or topic of the email.

This can be a huge factor including readers to not read your emails because they believe that there is nothing valuable in the email.

Remember even the verbs and brand words you use sometimes can make your subject line go way out of context, its times like that you have to use your better judgement to ensure that you deliver the right message by making necessary adjustments.

Create Urgency By Limiting The Timeframe

Offer a limited time deal or offer is a great way to get people to open up your emails and see what’s in it. Set a clear timeline as to when the offer ends. Words, like Hurry, Limited time offer, Get it now, are most commonly used terms to create urgency.

These words used properly in the subject lines can increase your email open rates tremendously.

If you use it in all your emails its not going to work well for you in the long run. This technique should be followed at times when you really want to make an offer and want the reader to take immediate action.

Deals that last a just a day or two like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You want to get those referral clicks in and capitalize quickly.

If Someone Referred The Subscriber, Use Their Name

Its always cool to tell your readers if someone helped you or referred them to you or if you learned something from your peers.

Imagine if you had to send out an email with the subject “Read why Neil Patel Just signed up for my newsletter.”

This is something that works awesome, especially when you are doing a JV with another company or blogger. Using their name in the subject lines can do wonders for you, especially if they are someone big and people known them well.

While this will boost your email open rates this again is only used in special circumstances.

Personalize Subject Lines With The Recipient’s Name

Miriam, Issue 3 of Instaglam March Newsletter

Something as simple as that can drive your open rates, because you have personalized the subject line and it makes the subscriber feel you are talking to them.

Its all about building trust and personal relationship with the readers that you can get them to read your emails over others. WHat better way to start personalizing than using the subject lines.

Don’t Use ALL CAPS

I’ve subscribed to over 30 email newsletters, they all serve their purposes but some of them are hardcore affiliate marketers and pitch me with every other email.

The most annoying part if that they use all caps. Its an immediate turn off that I delete even without reading further.

Even if one word is fully capitalized its annoying. Readers for reasons I am not certain hate email subject lines with CAPS.

Eliminate Filler Words

With such precious space, don’t waste it with unnecessary words like “hello,” “nice to meet you,” and “thanks,” which can easily be included in the email’s body.

Remember the length of the subject line I mentioned earlier? always keep that in mind while writing your email subjects.

To conclude I have one important piece of advice for you. Irrespective of what I’ve shared in this post, you should test out what works best for you. Because our audiences are different and people react differently and change their behavior continuously.

If you have any other email subject line hack. Why not leave a comment?

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11 thoughts on “8 Email Subject Line GrowthHacks to Increase Open Rates”

  1. Such a brilliant guide I came across recently.

    I agree with your point to measure the open and click rate as compared to just accumulate more mails. Many big players claim the size of their subscribers
    but the never tell the open or conversion rate.

    Recently I shifted from Aweber to a very cheap email marketing solution, and getting very good open rate now.

    Thanks for compiling such a brilliant tips.

    1. Editorial Staff

      Hey Kulwant,

      Nice of you to stop by and leave a comment. Yes its true, marketers like to showcase their lists but never really talk about its effectiveness. Focusing on the open rates will actually help you understand how many subscribers you can convert. Thanks for posting my content on Social Platforms.

  2. Love the tips. I’ve tweaked a few things in my email campaigns now which I’m seeing the benefit of (they’ve incorporated a couple of the actions you’ve suggested above).

    You’ve listed some I haven’t tried yet so they’ll be next in line with my email list strategy! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Editorial Staff

      Do let me know how this goes for you Lisa. It would be great to know how these strategies fair for other bloggers as well.

  3. Lorraine Reguly

    After reading this post, I checked my Open Rates and my CTRs, and noticed that if the subject line was particulary interesting, I had more opens and click-throughs.

    I’m actually going to test out a few different subject lines on my next few email send-outs, to see if I can increase them a bit.

    Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    1. Editorial Staff

      Lorraine, I know my comment here is a bit late. But how did this pan out for you. Did you see any big changes? Would you like me to provide you with a few personalized suggestions. Let me know.

  4. Love this tips. I went to check my stats and found out that I was doing ok but I am going to be doing A/B tests to see if I can increase my click and open rates. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Editorial Staff

      Ikechi, Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate your comment here regularly. I know i’m slow to respond but I do get to all the comments here. I sure hope your open rates are better now.

  5. I wanted to leave a comment on the post, Editorial Staff (that’s who’s behind Editorial Staff, right?), but then hesitated. You know why? Because none of the comments I see anywhere have responses from you.

    Personal marketing does matter. Especially in your own house.

    Thanks for always sharing my posts!

    1. Editorial Staff

      Hi Ana,

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, its me Editorial Staff. I’m glad that you left a comment here. Editorial Staff is my persona online based on how things turned out for me and this blog is an example of how I’m turning things around with the help of the community that I love and share my experience with. I do respond to comment, just not as frequent as I used to before. Now that I need to keep working for extended hours and manage everything myself to ensure that I don’t stay broke, I have scheduled my comment responses to two weeks or more.

      I’m always happy to share your articles. I’ve always been a big fan and will continue to share your articles.

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