4 Common Mistakes that Absolutely Crush Email Click-through Rates

May 10, 2021 | Email Copy

As of 2020, more than 300 billion emails were sent. Every. Day.

How do you stand out in a crowd that big?

Even if your content is top-notch, your subject lines need to be even better. One-third of all email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone.

These four mistakes can absolutely kill your open rate.


1. ‘Spammy’ Words

Want readers to even have the option of opening your email? You’ll have to get past spam filters.

Even once you do that, your email is still in danger of extinction. Sixty-nine percent of email recipients report email as spam based only on the subject line.

To avoid the dreaded spam button, remove trigger words like ‘free,’ ‘buy now,’ and ‘limited time.’ Obviously, eliminate words with sexual overtones. And skip the excess punctuation – especially exclamation points.

And don’t YELL at people in all CAPS. . . it’s not nice in real life, and it comes across even worse in emails. In fact, a study by the Radicati Group showed that 85 percent of people prefer all-lowercase subject lines to those in all caps.


2. L-o-n-g Subject Lines

Keep subject lines as short as possible – about 50 characters or five to seven words, if possible.

People are extremely time sensitive and scan their inboxes quickly. Plus, 40 percent of people scan through emails on their phones, where a long subject line will be truncated.

Can’t think of a short, catchy subject line? Try asking a question instead. Questions feel incomplete, and people naturally seek out missing information.


3. Generic Wording

A generic ‘newsletter’ subject line will lower your open rate by 18.7 percent.

On the other hand, subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can boost your open rate by 22 percent.

Try one of these suggestions to personalize your subject lines:

  1. Add first names. ‘John, here’s your personalized coupon’ will stand out in John’s inbox.
  2. Segment your email list and send customized emails to each segment.
  3. Instead of telling a customer ‘thank you,’ say ‘your new eBook is inside.’
  4. Use language like ‘24-hour giveaway,’ ‘happy hour pricing starts now,’ or ‘your membership is about to expire.’


4. Vague, Indecisive Purpose

What’s the specific purpose of your email? Do you have clarity?

Good. Then make your subject line a call-to-action instead of a summary.

And be specific. ‘Boost your open rate by 50% today,’ not ‘how to increase open rates.’

If your open rates aren’t what you envision, I may be able to help. Visit my website (below) for more information.


To your unlimited business growth,

Carol Parks

Carol Parks helps entrepreneurs and companies grow and scale via digital copywriting and smart marketing strategy… both B2B and B2C. Need copy now? Check-out her Services & Copywriting Packages!