Increase Email Opens by 300%

Email subject lines determine open rates
Will your subject line get opened?

Your subject line determines the fate of your email. You only have seconds for your reader to decide. This system used by marketers in the know can raise your open rates by 300%.

If your email inboxes look anything like mine there can be 30-100 new emails each one waiting for attention. It’s enough to elicit a groan. 

Our brains are designed to protect us.  It goes on autopilot. It triggers us to scan and delete highly efficiently.  Reduce stress. Clear the inbox. Hit delete.

The result is a lot of those emails never get read.  The decision is based on two key things...who its from and the subject line.

Sure we may open every email from a friend, parent or kid.  We’re not so lenient with businesses or someone we don’t know.

I’ve been in business since before there were emails.  All marketing messages were received in the mail.  We were just as good at sorting through that pile of mail as we are emails.  The good news...less print mail is kinder to the planet.

Still, the job of sorting through messages has to be done.

Time is king when you are in business and we have to be experts at sifting through email to determine value. If we quick at it, we would never get the business run. 

On the other side of the coin, as a digital content specialist, my marketing goal is to get my message read by the customer or prospect.  There are some insider techniques I use to make that happen.

Businesses emails

When we hear from a company we want to know what their message is. Are they sharing information...or trying to sell us something?

One practice I see regularly is what I call a “fake hook” subject line.  They use a clever headline that tricks out brain to want to know more. We open it to discover the message has nothing to do with the subject line.

It feels like a trick and is a good way to be shifted into a spam file. I discourage clients from using this technique. 

To keep customers, you need to build and maintain trust. Avoid practices that make them question you. Keep the subject line tied to the message.

4-Us get emails read.

I find creating subject lines much easier after I craft my message. Once I’m happy with the message, then I use the 4-U formula to create a subject line designed to get read.

The 4-U’s stand for urgency, usefulness, uniqueness, and ultra-specificity. 


How strong is the real reason the prospect should want to buy this product or service today, right now, right away?  

Several factors can increase urgency.  Scarcity - only a limited quantity is available. They do this with wine.  Only a very limited number of bottles of this vintage are available and when they are gone...there won’t be anymore.  

Sometimes they will use the… “you don’t want to have to wait for us to get this back in stock.” 

During the coronavirus, toilet paper and other paper goods went out of stock because of fears of scarcity.

Scarcity might also relate to availability at a given price for a very limited time with a hard rock-solid deadline.  Think of the 10-minute sales in the grocery store.  


The subject line should also communicate how this product/service is useful or has value to the potential buyer.

“Pain point” products use this regularly. 

Sleep better, manage discomfort, lose weight, grow hair, reduce stress. Anything that makes the prospect’s life easier, builds confidence and boosts morale is useful.

In today’s busy, high-stress world, useful has high value.


This requires knowing what makes your product different from the competition on the market.  

It’s not enough to say “we’re better” the prospect wants to know how and why. 

Uniqueness is the reason, to “buy from you.”  It’s tied to your unique selling position, (USP).

In the world of CBD product lines try to differentiate themselves by using full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolates. Locally grown. Independent lab-tested. Certifications, and more.

What the customer may see is that there are a number of products that all say this.  As the CBD market grows and becomes more sophisticated, I’m seeing specialty formulations. Unique formulations for a specific target.

The skincare market has been doing this for decades.  Generic “good-for-everyone" products can’t hold a candle to a product specific to my unique skin type and needs. 

Dry mature skin has different needs from a young combination or oily skin.  The same exact formulation doesn’t work equally well for both.

Beauty service specialists set themselves apart as unique using unusual or unique techniques designed for specific needs, Think stylists who specialize in curly hair, fine hair, thick hair, thin hair, hair of different ethnic cultures. They also may offer unique specialty services like extensions, wig fitting or color techniques.

Find the niche that gives your products or formulations uniqueness.


Avoid being vague at all costs.  

A giant sign that says: SALE, doesn’t tell you much. It’s a general statement.  

We don’t know what, where, or how long.  Maybe the sale was a month ago but someone didn’t take the sign down.

Score Your Email Subject Line

Once you create your subject line run it through the 4-U’s scorecard.  

For each of the U’s give your subject line a score from 1 to 4. A score of 1 is low and a score of 4 would be high.  Your total will range from 4 to 16.  Divide this by  4.  

If your end total is under 2.5, start over. Scores between 2.5 and 3.5 could stand a little tweaking.  If you have 3.5 or’s ready to send


SALE sign - total score 1

  • Nothing to give us urgency. - 1
  • Not very useful. - 1
  • Certainly not unique. - 1
  • Lacking specificity.   -

If we change that to a sign that says:

Fresh Picked Today - Organic Strawberries $25/flat Very Limited Quantities! - Score 3.75

Urgency - yes, very limited quantities and they are fresh. - 4

Usefulness - yes - unless you’re allergic to strawberries - 3

Uniqueness - The combination of fresh-picked today, organic, and a price of $25 for a flat of strawberries would have most women fighting over them. At the Farmer’s Market last Saturday they were going for over $40 for a flat. - 4

Ultra-specificity - the subject line is very specific. - 4

I work with clients to get the right message and the right subject line to get that message opened. I’ve found this insider method helps to craft targeted subject lines to get messages read.

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