How much time and effort you spend on your subject line reveals how much you truly want your email to be opened.

Wait, what?

Just like a nice home-cooked meal is the key to my heart, a great subject line is the key to get your email opened. Nothing more, nothing less.

Therefore, you need to work on that subject line and make it perfect. But hey, I’m here to guide you with all of‘s experience on…well, on the subject.

Shall we?

1. Avoid SPAM trigger words

If you want to get that subject line to have any effect, well… you’d better land in your recipient’s mailbox first and get through those spam filters.

For that reason, we’ve put together an extensive list of words to avoid in your email subject line. While some should be banned, for most it’s all about context. Time to get creative!

2. Keep it short

A subject line that’s longer than 45 characters may not fully appear in your recipient’s inbox.

According to Litmus, the sweet spot is between 4 and 15 characters, with an open rate of 15,2%. 28 to 39 characters seems to be working as well, with a 12,2% open rate.

Also, keep in mind that around 40% of emails are first opened on mobile, where screen space is even more scarce.

3. Personalize

Your recipient will most likely be a human being. And like all human beings, the thing they’re the most passionate about is…*drum roll*… themselves! If you know that person’s name -which you should because you’d never buy email lists– why not use it ?

Do you know their location? Can you make it relevant? Go ahead! Conversely, try not to make it creepy, or it may backfire.

4. Avoid ALL CAPS and exclamation points !!!!

Obviously, these are not trigger words per se but they’re clearly and effectively hurting your deliverability. Also, no one wants to open an email will all caps and an excessive use of punctuation. If you don’t end up in the spam folder in the first place, they might direct you to it.

5. Lay out your Unique Selling Proposition

Tell them what’s inside, especially if they don’t know you. You wouldn’t email them if you didn’t have a good reason, then make it clear why they should care.

6. Be consistent

Don’t do clickbait, don’t make false promises. Your subject line must match the content of your email, otherwise you’ll just end up on a blacklist and you’ll have wasted yours and your recipients time. Also, I won’t like you anymore.

7. Drop a name

Is this a cold email? Have you been referred by someone they know personally? Go ahead and drop that b… I mean, that name! It may mean that you’re not leading with the object of your email, but if your referral is strong, they’ll open it anyway as a courtesy to your mutual acquaintance.

8. Pick a nice sender name

Do you think anyone would like to get an email from No, they wouldn’t. Furthermore; they can’t even add you to their address book.

Do you think anyone would like to get an email from Again, they most certainly would not and they’re probably not even going to look at your subject line.

Depending on the situation, you might decide to use something formal -like your full name- or something friendlier -like your first name. Even better, add the name of your company -although the company name alone would sound a bit cold.

If you happen to be Google’s CEO – you might not need to know this but still- you’ll want your sending name to be something like “Larry from Google”.

9. Use humor

Don’t be afraid to use puns and be funny. Spirit Airlines Halloween newsletter was titled “Pumpkin, Please.” Actually, most of their communication is puny and funny and helps get their message across smoothly, even when it mostly consists in offers.

If your recipient already knows you and you think you can allow yourself to do that, then why not lead with the first words of a short joke? It’ll most certainly get them intrigued and, if your pun isn’t lame, it’ll make them laugh. Hell, my next subject line will be “A guy walks into a bar…”

10. Ask a question

A compelling question relevant to your recipient’s buyer’s persona can do wonders. For example, if they’re a salesperson, going with “Are you making these cold email mistakes?” can effectively grasp their attention.

I have -as should you- subscribed to Ramit Sethi‘s newsletter. This guy being one of the greatest entrepreneurs around, every email is basically a concentrate or invaluable advice. Which doesn’t stop him from putting the time and effort to produce brilliant subject lines. The last email I got from him hit me with the line: “Is this cheating?”

Is what cheating? Is WHAT? Yeah, I clicked. It was worth it.

11. Use numbers

You clicked on this article didn’t you? I’m pretty sure that putting a number at the beginning of the title has to do with that. The same goes for email subject lines. If you’re writing to a marketer, then probably something along the lines of “5 SEO mistakes you’re making” will tickle them. Also, numbers tend do stand out when surrounded by words all over the place.

Feel free to treat your subject line like an blog article headline.

12. Take on the competition

If you’re trying to sell something to someone, then someone else is probably doing the same, to the same people. If you really believe your product or service to be better than your competitor’s, get in touch with their customers and feel free to lead with something like “Better Than {Competitor}”, or -to make it funny- “{Competitor} hates us!”.

It’s simple, if you can truly prove the worth of your product in comparison to your competitor’s, go for their customers by directly referring to them.

13. Time it right

Timing your email right can be a powerful way to connect, not only because you’re going to catch your recipient at the best possible time, but also because you can take advantage of that time to come up with a relevant headline. Is a particular holiday going on? Is there a special event they might be attending in the hour after receiving your email? If so, mention it!

Time is your friend here, work with it.

Share this piece and go improve those subject lines!