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The Subject Line: Get the "Open" Click When You Just Show You Care

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2:4, NLT)

A Word For Writers

Your email subject line has a special mission: its job is to get your reader to open the email.

The Subject Line: an online devotional for writers with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #ChristianWritingResources #FreelanceWriting #WritingTips

Why do so many subject lines fail at this?

Maybe I could get some answers from my own inbox.

So I hopped over to check my email. Here are the subject lines of three recent emails.

Subject Line #1: “Join our new virtual event “

The sender, a large commercial ministry, didn’t say what the event was about or how the event could help me with my ministry work. I’m busy. I need a reason to attend a virtual event.

How about this instead: “Fuel your preteen ministry at our new virtual event”

Subject Line #2: “Journal from Susan “

Each email I get from Susan has the same title, which is too vague. Which also explains why I rarely open them. And what if I was a new donor or new subscriber?

How about this instead: “Susan’s Journal: How Your Gift of 28 Goats Saved a Village Last Winter”

Subject Line #3: “Break the Painful Catch-22 Cycle”

This subject line surprised me the most – not because it was too general (which of the zillions of possible Catch-22s can I break?), but because it was from a major marketing magazine. Tsk, tsk. They should know better. Specifics, people!

How about this instead: “Too Busy? Break Out of the Catch-22 Wasted Time Cycle” 

I’m sure each of these senders wanted me to open their emails so I could benefit from what they had to offer.

But each made a fatal flaw which earned them the "Delete" rather than "Open": they didn’t let me know they cared. They only talked about themselves in the subject line.

Special offers, deadlines, trigger words – these are useful tools for persuading your reader to open your email. But they are only tools. Do you let your reader know you care – even in the subject line?

A Wise Word

Show your reader you care – even in the subject line.

A Word To Pray

Heavenly Father,

You speak through Your Word, even in short snippets. Your messages to me always show that you care. Help me do the same as I write to my reader.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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