3 Essentials to Getting Your Email Opened

Before your email can be read, it must be open. The key to getting your email opened is the subject line.

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Think of the subject line of your e-mail as being the equivalent of a headline in a sales letter. It's that important. In fact, if you don't write a good subject line, I can almost guarantee your e-mail will not be opened, not be read, and, in fact, end up in the trash.

So what makes up a good e-mail subject line? There are three essential components every subject line must contain. They are:

  1. Connect. The subject line must connect with the interest of the reader. Fail this test and they'll hit the delete button.
  2. Attention. The subject line must rivet the attention of the prospect so that they are curious about what's contained in the rest of the e-mail.
  3. Propel. The subject line must be active and propel the reader to read the rest of your e-mail, leading to your call to action.

Without these three elements, your subject line will not draw your reader into your e-mail, and your e-mail won't be read.

Another way to think of this is to remember what your reader is always thinking: “what's in this for me?”

If you don't have a good answer to that question, you and your email are toast.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Don Taylor

    Ray, I have to say that when it comes to writing subject lines (among other things), you absolutely know your stuff.

    I seem to be on a bazillion mailing lists, and I get a lot of email messages every day. I toss them mercilessly. But the ones from you almost always get opened, partly because I know the content will be rich, but initially because the subject is so clever or compelling.

    My all-time favorite Ray Edwards subject line: “Confessions of a Hope Fiend”. (Note: I am at some point going to steal that one.)

    Your subject lines serve as proof to the old saw, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put salt in his oats.”



  • Without a shadow of a doubt this is my biggest stumbling block when it comes to my mailing lists, my subject lines have historically not performed well for me.

    You’ve inspired me to think about how I can be writing more compelling subject lines. In fact I might even send out my long overdue May email tomorrow!

    Thanks for consistently putting up great content my friend, it’s very helpful!