email subject line best practices

Email Subject Line Best Practices: Magic Words that Guarantee An Opened Email

Recently, I came across a blog post entitled “The Four Words That Will Get Your Email Opened” and I couldn’t resist clicking on the link.

Here’s what they said.

“You Are Not Alone.”

Those are the four words that, in a somewhat unscientific yet convincing study, demonstrated an email open rate of 90%. That’s incredible. But let’s think about why this may be.

As anyone with any level of familiarity with psychology knows, one of the biggest fears that humans have, as the social creatures we are, is being alone. And any message that counteracts this fear is one we are hardwired to listen to. And that includes email subject lines.

If the subject line alludes to 1) useful information contained within the body of the email, and 2) the email recipient is not the only one who will benefit from the information, your email open rates (and email deliverability) are bound to soar.

Make sure you reinforce this idea by crafting engaging and useful content in your email. Your alluring subject line may have gotten your email opened, but don’t betray the trust with providing empty statements, boring or useless information, or worse, failing to address what your subject line alludes to. The last thing you want to do as an email marketer is be a tease. Deliver on your promises, and in this case, your subject line is promising good information and engaging content, if only your subscriber will open the email.

What subject line keywords have you noticed generate the most open rates? Have you used the “You are not alone” approach? Leave a comment below and let us know how it’s worked for you, or if you experiment with it in your next email marketing campaign, share your results with us! We’d love to hear from you!

Published On: August 15th, 2011Categories: Email deliverabilityTags:

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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