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Newsletter email subject lines
Ashley GrantFeb 2, 2024 12:05:06 AM8 min read

Newsletter Email Subject Lines That Convert

When it comes to newsletter email subject lines, there’s a frustrating game we keep seeing played online that we really want to put a stop to here at SendX - it’s the old spray and pray game. You send out countless emails with random email subject lines just hoping they will get opened.

In other words, you “spray” your message and just “pray” people will open up and actually read what your message is. If you want to stop this game, especially since it often ends in failure, keep reading.

We’re not going to guarantee you massive conversion rates overnight. However, with the tips we’re sharing below, you can pull your subscribers in, and get them to open more of your emails.

Ready to turn your newsletters from missed to unmissable? Let's get started!

The “Not So Secret” Secret Sauce - Why Newsletter Email Subject Lines Matter So Much

Get this - nearly half of the people on your email list are going to decide whether or not to open it based on your newsletter email subject lines alone! Yep! It is that important to get it right.

The subject line is one of the most critical parts of a newsletter. It is often the first and sometimes only thing subscribers see before deciding whether to open and read your newsletter. A compelling subject line can dramatically increase your open rates, while a poor one can lead subscribers to ignore your message entirely.

Still not convinced? Here are several reasons why great subject lines for newsletters matter:

Your email subject lines make your message stand out in a crowded inbox 

With so many emails competing for attention, you need a subject line that catches the reader's eye and gives them a reason to open your specific newsletter.

It conveys the core benefit or value proposition of your newsletter

The subject line should clearly communicate what the reader will get out of opening your email - useful information, entertaining content, special deals etc.

Newsletter email subject lines build anticipation and interest

A subject line that teases or hints at exciting content within your newsletter will spark readers' curiosity and prompt them to open and read more.

They decrease subscriber fatigue

Inbox Army refers to email fatigue as a loss in your engagement rate combined with an increase in the number of unsubscribes. When you write great subject lines for newsletters though, your open rates actually increase, and unsubscribes decrease!

You want to make your readers happy to hear from you, not feel overwhelmed by another boring message in their inbox. Put another way, you want higher open rates.

Open rates indicate how effectively your subject lines lead subscribers to engage. Higher open rates also improve your sender reputation.

Your subject line allows targeting and personalization

Subject lines can be tailored and optimized for different subscriber segments based on interests, demographics etc. Personalized subject lines have much higher open rates.

It ensures your message gets past spam filters

Spam filters block emails with suspicious or clickbait-y subject lines. A clean, relevant subject line has a better chance of landing in the subscriber's inbox.

Simply put - when you take the time to craft thoughtful newsletter email subject lines, you can get more eyeballs on your messages instead of being ignored and/or deleted. The effort put into optimizing subject lines pays dividends in the form of a healthy, growing and active subscriber base.

Best Practices for Newsletter Subject Line DesignBest-Practices-for-Newsletter-Subject-Line-Design-Internal-Image-8-Feb-2024

Now, you might be thinking - Sure, this all sounds well and good, but what do I need to do to actually write better newsletter email subject lines? So glad you asked! Here are some best practices to keep in mind for crafting great subject lines for newsletters:

Focus on relevance

Align subject lines closely to your newsletter content and what your audience cares about. Don't try to trick people.

Speak conversationally

Use natural language and avoid excessive punctuation or ALL CAPS. Readers should be able to glance and grasp the gist.

Draw them in with a hook

Ask a thoughtful question or include a fascinating fact to pique curiosity right away.

Keep emojis minimal

They can help express tone but use sparingly and test if they improve/decrease open rates.

Avoid spammy words

Using terms like "free", "discount", "money" excessively can trigger spam filters.

Consider seasonality

Tailor to holidays, events and seasons. "Our Top Spring Cleaning Tips" rather than just "New Tips".

Rotate subject line styles

Don't repeat the exact same type of phrasing. Mix up curiosity gaps, lists, questions, etc.

Honor your brand voice

Ensure subject lines align with your brand personality to set consistent expectations.

Review your metrics regularly

Check open rate data weekly and tweak approaches. Subject lines have a shelf life.

The most important thing is to continually test subject lines and optimize based on what resonates best with your subscribers over time.

High-Converting Newsletter Subject Line Formulas

Below are some of the most popular formulas we’ve seen for successful newsletter email subject lines.

1. [Numbered List] of [Interest Topic or Benefit]

For example:

  • 10 Places to Take Your Spouse for Valentine’s Day
  • 6 Reasons He’s Not Returning Your Phone Call
  • 17 Things You Need to Do Before Going to College

2. What Our [Customer Type] Can Learn from [Insight]

For example:

  • What Busy Moms Can Learn from Our Meal Planning Experts
  • What Fitness Enthusiasts Can Learn About Workout Recovery
  • What Pet Owners Can Learn from Groomers - Don’t Do This!

3. Our Take: [Thought Leadership on Recent Event/News]

For example:

  • Our Take: Jason Kelce’s shirtless football game shenanigans
  • Our Take: Should felons be allowed to run for office?
  • Our Take: What really happened when the electric went out citywide

4. [Industry or Audience] Update: What You Need to Know

For example:

- Parenting Update: What You Need to Know About Screen Time Rules

- Podcasting Update: Google Podcasts is Going Away - Now What?

- Education Update: Your SAT scores could mean free money for college

5. For [Customer Name]: A [Product Category] Cheat Sheet

For example:

  • Jill: We’ve Got Your Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Raise
  • Sam: Cheat sheet for meal planning inside! Dinner Done!
  • John: Here’s what your wife REALLY wants for Mother’s Day

Additional newsletter subject line formulas that can help increase open and conversion rates

Want even more ideas to get more email opens? Check out these examples of email subject lines:

  • Curiosity Gap Headlines - Pose an interesting question or unfinished statement to pique reader curiosity. (i.e. What one change increased sales by 30%?)
  • How-To Headlines - Provide a specific benefit or solution.  (i.e. How to Create Engaging Social Media Content in Under an Hour)
  • Timely Subject Lines - Reference current events, holidays, seasons to increase relevance. (i.e. Our Top Holiday Marketing Tips) 
  • Direct Headlines - Ge. ight to the main topic or benefit.  (i.e. Increase Open Rates With These 5 Simple Steps)

Hopefully, your wheels are starting to turn on how you can grab your reader’s attention. Remember, you want to pique their curiosity just enough to get them to open your email!

Newsletter Email Subject Lines Optimization - What to Look ForNewsletter-Email-Subject-Lines-Optimization-What-to-Look-For-Internal-Image-8-Feb-2024

Are your email subject lines working? Here are some key data points and metrics to analyze when testing newsletter email subject lines:

Open Rates - The percentage of subscribers who opened the email. This indicates how compelling the subject line was. Benchmark against past performance.

Click-Through Rates - The percentage who not only opened but clicked links/CTAs in the email. Shows the subject line primed them to engage further.

Bounce Rates - The percentage of emails bounced as undeliverable. Can reveal issues with list accuracy.

Unsubscribe Rates - How many subscribers opted out after that email campaign. May signal subject line turned people off.

Read Rates - If using tracking pixels, check if people are actually reading or just skimming emails.

List Growth - Monitor the impact on overall subscriber growth to identify any positive/negative trends.

Conversion Rates - For promotional or sales emails, track how many convert to sales based on subject line testing.

Subject Line Length - Experiment with character length and analyze open rate correlation.

Subject Line Content - Compare open rates for questions vs statements, numbers, urgency, etc.

A/B Testing - Send version A and B to split lists to directly compare open & click rates.

Analyze this data regularly, experiment iteratively, and optimize over time. Small tweaks to your email subject lines can make a big difference.

Crafting Magnetic Subject Lines Is a Newsletter Game-changer

With the right phrasing alchemy, your emails can break through the noise and turn subscribers into engaged customers.

We’ve armed you with data-backed formulas, subject line frameworks, and optimization tricks to command reader attention.

Now, the power is in your hands.

It's time to put these secrets to work for your brand. Setup some A/B tests, analyze the data, and tweak your way to Open Rate gold.


- Leverage the irresistible formats readers love - lists, questions, personalization

- Optimize based on opens, clicks, conversions, not guesses

- Be relevant, concise and direct while matching brand voice

With compelling subject lines, every time you hit “send” moves the engagement needle and brings you closer to your newsletter goals.

So here's to more opens, more clicks, and less unsubscribes. Go grab those inboxes by the eyeballs.

Now get out there and turn those newsletters into must-reads. Your readers are waiting.

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