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If you’re a savvy entrepreneur, you’re probably onto email marketing. There are tonnes of reasons why you would need to email your customers. Whether you’re following up on initial interest or delivering your latest offer– it’s a great way of reaching out to an interested audience.

One problem of email marketing is that it’s so good, everyone’s doing it. It only takes looking at your 827 unread messages to realise that a huge number of companies are all trying to get your attention at the same time.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? The first thing your audience sees while trawling through emails is the headline – and if that doesn’t stand out, then the rest of your carefully crafted text won’t be getting read.

A bad headline can vary from being boring, uninteresting or even offensive. You can avoid these pitfalls by crafting a creative headline that is irresistible to the reader.

The Question

Opening with a question is only going to invite intrigue, and with intrigue comes an email link being read. But what question should you ask?

See how we got you to read on there – that’s what we’re talking about. Your heading should ask a question that’s relevant to your audience and that they know it targeted for them. Once you’ve narrowed this down you can play around with what works best with your audience.

The simpler the better when it comes to questions; if it’s easy to read and interesting to the reader then you’ll be maximising your potential reach.


Simple, but classic. Too often the minimalist approach is overlooked.

In the busy email inbox, when people are vying for attention and creating inventive puns to make the reader click, a simple one word heading can go a long way. It can even stand out more when there’s a lot of white space in the title.

Simple headlines gently encourage the reader, or even just intrigue them, rather than shouting for attention and declaring offers. Save your readers headaches by sending them emails with one word headings – it’ll get you heard through the noise.

Did you get Barack Obama’s email? You know, the one that said “Hey”. We’ll bet you definitely read it if you did!


One of the most difficult emails to craft is the one to get the customers’ interested. These are the ones that come to inboxes in floods, and whose headlines should be ‘MEMEMEMEMEME’. This might not prove the most effective method (though you’re welcome to give it a go).

Instead we’d suggest a case study. Case studies and reviews will strengthen your argument when you’re trying to get customers on board.

Something as simple as ‘Why Joe Bloggs tried our product’ or ‘Hear what Joe Bloggs thought of us’ can be enough to get you that all-important click. Ask for a short reference from one of your clients and get writing!


Another way to inspire readers to see the rest of your email is to get a bit humorous. If there’s a special event on you can easily rope in a laugh, or begin with a joke that is continued in the rest of the email.

Social networks perform so well for businesses because you’re able to show your personality customers. The same approach should be taken in emails, just in a longer form. You might be there to try and sell something but there’s no reason why your personality shouldn’t shine through!

One of our favourite’s? Groupon’s unexpected email heading: “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”.


Another way of getting heard through the noise is to address the reader directly. Insert the reader’s name into the email header with a third party tool such as MailChimp to really speak to each and every listener.

Not only is this touch of personalisation a bit nicer than the generic email, but the reader is more likely to think it is and important email – or at least worth their time.

So next time you’re composing an email for your readers, think about them as individuals rather than as one complete organism.


This is one to be careful with. Your email could be at risk of falling flat if you get it wrong. Keep it subtle to get the best effect – if you write in all caps your email is getting sent to the junk folder straight away.

Be careful not to give away the whole point of the email in the subject line too. If you do, what’s the point of the email? It ruins the plot a bit if you give it all away at the beginning, so make sure you leave something to be discovered.

Manicube’s “*Don’t Open This Email*” header was a stroke of genius – because of course, everyone had to open it.

How To

Welcoming a new customer is one of the best emails you’ll get to send, so make the most of it. Open up with a ‘How To’ email that introduces your services or product and shows the customer around. Include a YouTube video if you can, and show rather than tell.

People are always willing to learn new skills, which is why ‘How To’ videos also work well in ordinary emails too. How to headlines are also difficult to write badly – unless you’re attempting to do it by smashing your face against the keyboard.

What are your favoured email headlines? Do you keep it simple or always personalise? Leave your comments in the section below!

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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