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KristaNov 30, 20236 min read

Small Focus, Big Impact: Why You Should Care About Email Subject Lines

Anyone who has an email address, which by now is almost everyone, knows how many emails come pouring in every day. When you’re writing an email and hoping to stand out amidst the average of 121 business-related emails people receive daily, you have a short timeframe to grab the readers’ attention. If you do not grab the attention of your email readers, you are most likely losing out on leads.

To transform your email marketing open rates, business growth, lead generation, and success let’s change the way you look at subject lines. In this article, we’ll discuss the impact a small change in your marketing emails can make, how emails can create growth for your business, and how you can ultimately be successful with your email marketing. We’ll also show you how we brought these changes to reality with one of our clients. 

The Critical Importance of Subject Lines

The subject line of an email is the single line of text people see when they receive your email. This one line of text can often determine whether an email is opened or sent straight to the trash, so ensure it's optimized for your audience. The trick is piquing their interest without being clickbaity or obnoxious. It should be specifically informative, and unfortunately, it also needs to be extremely brief. 

Subject lines need to quickly grab the recipient's attention. It's estimated that subject lines with 50 characters or less result in 12% higher open rates and 75% higher click-through rates than emails with longer subject lines.


This tiny bite-sized text needs to be compelling enough to spark the interest of your readers so they open the email. It may be the most important part of the entire email.

Best Practices to Create Compelling Subject Lines

Make It Attention-grabbing

Your email subject line should act as a mini advertisement for your content. In order to stand out in the inbox, you want to instantly grab the attention of your audience — this could be through using a catchy piece of copy, including the name of the recipient in the subject line, and using pictorial additions like emojis to help separate your business’ subject line from the rest of the inbox. Email subject lines should pique the interest of your audience. As previously stated, you want to grab your audience's attention, but you also want to make them curious.

A/B Test Your Subject Lines

Send each email test to a small group of your audience (10-20% of your total audience for each group is a good rule of thumb), determine a timeframe, and analyze your results once the timeframe has passed. Whichever subject group has the highest open rate will determine which subject line you will use for the rest of your audience. 


Pro Tip: Use HubSpot’s A/B testing to help you test your subject lines. HubSpot uses these 3 steps when you send your emails by using the distribution of sending; then, you can set your winning best-performing test to use the best for your clientele.

  • A/B Distribution: use the slider to decide what percentage of contacts will receive Variation A and Variation B. You can also set the slider to send Variation A to 50% and Variation B to 50%. This will send one email variation to half of the contacts in the list and the other email to the other half of the contacts. This lets you analyze the statistics of the two emails after the send to see which variation was more successful.
  • Winning Metric: if you've opted to send variations A and B to a smaller group, then send the winning version to the remaining recipients; click the Winning metric dropdown menu to select the metric that determines how the winning variation will be chosen. Open rate, Click rate, or Click-through rate.
  • Test Duration: use the slider to set a time period to gather data before choosing a winner and sending the winning variation. If the results of the test are inconclusive after the test duration, HubSpot will automatically fall back to sending Variation A to the remaining recipients.

Segment Your Audiences

Age, income level, job type, and geographic location are all demographics you can use to sort your audience. This method is popular for a reason: It works. Different people subscribe to your newsletter for different reasons. Some of them might have wanted the deals, while others were compelled by your copy. The subject lines that might convince one group of readers to open your email may not work as well for your entire audience.

Keep It Short

Generally speaking, this is a good rule of thumb to follow. But it’s especially relevant with subject lines because you only get so many characters to get your point across — especially on mobile, where only about 25-30 characters are displayed.

Examples of Effective Subject Lines 

Here are a few types of subject lines and examples that are simple but effective in getting customers to open them and read. 

  • Product Push: Choosing Excellence in a [product here]
  • Industry "Hack/Secret": The Secret to [something that is important in your business's industry]
  • For A Business That Sells Products For Needing Profits: One of the best-kept secrets to increasing profits in the [your industry]
  • Webinar Send: Last Chance: Elevate Your [noun]! Join Our Exclusive [webinar title]

When you are writing email subject lines, first consider your customer persona and their pain points, goals, and aspirations. Write in a way that will capture their attention and keep it catchy, direct, and compelling. 

Vastly Changing For the Better

One of our clients, an infection control solutions manufacturer, noticed an opportunity to improve the open rates of the emails that are being sent. In 2022, they sent emails to 202,487 recipients, and only about 34,000 of them were even opened. Since their emails weren’t getting opened, different specials, deals, and discounts were not being seen or used. Something that would attract the reader was missing from the emails, and it was time to improve their email marketing efforts and consequently improve the results of their deals. We discussed solutions with the business to improve their open rates; with better open rates, the business can create more deals and help business growth. 

To fix this issue, we segmented their emails into separate groups to target people with particular problems and interests with content that will apply to them. We focused on subject lines, changing them to provide insights into the email, and used eye-catching words and phrases that tied into the pain points of the customer personas. 

We gave the subject line context and brought in engaging words and speech to help ensure the reader knows and understands what is being said and talked about. We also created more personally tailored subject lines to help them feel like we were talking to them specifically and not just an entire group of people the emails were going to. 

So what happened? The benchmark open rate was 22%. From January of 2023 to September of 2023, their open rates jumped from 16% average to 24.5%, yielding a 35% increase. This 35% can have a significant impact on your pipeline. 


Small Changes Make Big Differences

Regarding subject lines, small changes in your emails can make a difference, knowing what your audience likes, dislikes, and finds compelling. Overall, subject lines mean a great deal and can increase opens, which can increase clicks, which, in the end, creates leads and sales for your business. Even this small effort can turn your entire marketing program for the better. Small efforts can be small or even big wins. This is a first step to help push new leads down your sales pipeline, ultimately affecting your overall business effort. As small as a subject line can seem, if the email does not get opened, you cannot create business off a possible lead. 

Beyond subject lines, there are many small ways to improve that can lead to bigger results. Knowing what those things are, or when and how to do them, can be a struggle. Get inspired by some of those ideas and strategies with our Magnetic Marketing for Manufacturers guide. It features proven strategies from our extensive experience, helping companies grow their markets and profits.

Download Magnetic Marketing for Manufacturers Guide



Co-founder & VP, Client Services at TANK New Media.