Subject lines matter more than you think

Three to seven words.

That’s about how many words your subscribers see before making a decision about reading your newsletter.

An email you’ve spent hours writing comes down to the handful of words in your subject line.

Most people put almost no time into thinking about their subject line. They assume that their amazing writing will speak for itself. But all that work may never be seen in the first place.

So how do you write a compelling subject line?

Step1: Study your audience

The way your subscribers talk about what you’re writing about is the key to connecting with them.

Specifically, look for:

  • Use words they use
  • Struggles they share
  • Analogies they make

The more you can reference those things, the more relatable you’ll be.

Step 2: Find the best format

There are a few formats you can use to write a perfect subject line every time.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I find these to work the best:

Ask a question: Make your subscribers think about something they crave the answer to.

  • How do the top creators find success?
  • Does this feel relatable?
  • Why isn’t your newsletter growing faster?

Use curiosity: Everyone loves a good mystery or challenging statement, and they need to know the conclusion.

Include numbers: We’ve all seen numbers used in subject lines, like “The Top 3 Apps of 2023”. Here’s a fun tip though. Use odd numbers to create even more intrigue:

How to: This is a very common approach, but it can be successful depending on the topic.

  • How to structure your newsletter
  • How to start a blog in 2023
  • How to be more relatable

Step 3: Edit

Your subject line needs to be well crafted. It’s the packaging for all of your hard work.

If it doesn’t seem interesting to you, it probably won’t be interesting to your reader.

To keep your subject line short and concise, try taking words out to see how it feels.

Really spend time on this.

Step 4: Keep Testing

Like any skill, subject lines take time to get right. You can’t expect them all to do well, but if you keep testing to see what your audience connects with you will find what works.

Your next step

It’s time to take these steps yourself. Try different formats to see what feels best for you.

The next time you feel compelled to open an email, take note of the subject line. How did they get you to open?

Written by Kyle Adams

I work at ConvertKit helping top creators every day and bring what I know about growing your email list to Creator Glue every week.