Craft a Magnetic Subject Line with 4 Rules in 5 minutes

A subject line and a newborn baby, what do they have in common?

They both need extra care and attention. 59% of consumers report email influences their buying decisions. But with 200 (on average) emails in your subscriber’s inbox, the email copywriter’s greatest challenge is…

How do you get your one reader’s attention without spending your whole life on the subject line?

To be one in a billion, your subject line must draw people in:

  • By evoking particular emotions
  • By making an ultra-specific promise
  • Creating urgency

If you do all three, you’ll surpass the Cannabis/CBD industry’s average open rate. What is the best way to consistently produce high-quality subject lines? Use these four rules to craft subject lines that get your audience’s attention every time.

The Most Important Element of Email is…

Why will the rest of your email copy, design, and hard work go down the toilet?

Because your subject line didn’t do its job.

Curiosity is a surefire tactic to increase your open rates. Make your list as curious as possible. But what’s the best way to spark your audience’s interest?

Make a promise. They’re powerful. 

Use a tip I learned from Verygoodcopy: ask yourself, “what can I hold back to make the subject line irresistible?”

Make your Subscriber Curious

Use the “open loop” technique. Make your subscriber curious and pique their curiosity. Excite their brain by dropping hints and plant clues to move them forward. Research shows that the brain releases dopamine, “the feel-good chemical” as a reward for satisfying our curiosity.

An example of creating an open loop with your subject line.

Introduce a subject or idea but stop short of telling the whole story. Use either need-based or fear-based curiosity. Write a sentence that makes people take action.

Hook ideas:

– Big pains, desires, or promises
– Starting a story
– Useful education
– Shocking statistics
– Highlighting a discount
– Highlighting social proof
– Asking a relevant question

Answer the question, “did the payoff come too late?” After you finish your subject line.

Preview Text

Preview text is often overlooked. A study by Litmus found that 24% of respondents will look at the preheader text before opening the email. 

So it’s proven it aids the subject line in enticing your one reader. The most effective preview text is action-orientated and super short.

An example of a simple, effective subject line.

The “Subject line” Platinum Rule

Make a “big” promise about the relevant information in the email’s body. Think about the results your subscriber will get from using your product and appeal to their self-interest. Narrow it down to what they’ll get from reading the email.

The best subject lines are benefit-driven. Set the expectations for your one reader and let them know what’s in the email. Tease the benefit at all costs.

Examples of CBD eCom companies’ subject lines.

The “Subject line” Golden Rule

Be ultra-specific when you’re teasing the benefit of reading the email. To do that, you have to know who you’re talking to.

Focus on:

  • What they want
  • What they get
  • How they’ll feel after buying

Specificity makes a huge difference because it makes the subject line personalized. Think about:

  • Making a comparison to other products and services
  • Or how you can help your reader achieve their goal

Examples of ultra-specific subject lines.

The “Subject line” Silver Rule

Email subject lines including a sense of urgency have a 22% increase in open rates.”

Invesp, 2021

Always try to create a sense of urgency. Try using the following methods:

  • Tie in your content with a current event
  • Create a challenge based on something popular
  • Make time-sensitive recommendations
  • Offer limited-time cost savings, discounts, or something exclusive

An example of a CBD eCom company’s email creating urgency.

Remember to create urgency around the value readers can’t get anywhere else.

60% of millennial consumers said they make a reactive purchase after experiencing FOMO, most often within 24 hours.

Optin Monster

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in Subject Lines

Use psychology (when in doubt) to create urgency. A powerful motivator is when people feel like they will lose out on something. Highlight what your subscriber will be missing out on. 

An example of using FOMO.

The “Subject line”Bronze Rule

“Brevity is the ultimate way to capture attention”

William Zinsser

Be concise as possible. Cut to the chase. Delete 50% of the words if you need to.

An example of a super concise eCom email.

Think about removing all:

  • Adverbs
  • Adjectives
  • Pronouns
  • Propositions

An example of a 3-word eCom email.

Shine up your subject line until it’s:

  • Attention-grabbing
  • Curiosity-arousing
  • Short

It’ll ✂️ through the clutter. Just keep your subject line short and simple. Strip your headline to the point where only words represent the three previous rules.

An example of a long subject line that still gets to the point.

Other tips include

👉🏾 Numbers

Check out these real-life examples from current eCom companies.

An example of eCom emails using tips to make the subject lines stand out.


When the subject lines and preview text tease your USP, you’ll stop fighting for subscribers’ attention. With an understanding of your segmentations, you’ll know what to personalize in your subject lines.

Remember to add emojis for personality and visual interest (but don’t underdo it). Be concise. Be clear and cut out the fluff.

Follow the four rules and supercharge your subject lines. What’s the point of having great email copy, images, and offers if it never gets opened?

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