Impactful Subject Lines Pt 2 – Action For Reaction

The subject line is a great tool for priming your recipients. This is to say, the subject line can influence your recipients behaviour, specifically, how the recipient interacts with your email. Like a good handshake at a client meeting, it has the potential to create a positive impression and direct the way to a successful engagement. In the same way a good handshake can help prime your client for a successful meeting, an effective subject line can prime your recipient for better campaign response.

A great way to do this is to use an instructive tone in your subject line, achieved using action verbs. Let’s build on our revised example subject line from last week which is now front-loading the critical information.

“Upcoming Event, 22nd of January, London – Tickets now available for ‘Tax Law in 2014’ ”

Let us take this a step further by additionally using action verbs to instruct our recipient toward our preferred outcome.

“Upcoming Event, 22nd of January, London – Secure your tickets for ‘Tax Law in 2014’ ”

This version of the subject line instructs the recipient to do something, informing them that the email has an associated action. By using the action verb “secure” you are directing the recipient to the preferred outcome, i.e. securing a ticket. Other examples of action words you could use in subject lines might be “join“, “discover”, “explore” or “connect” depending on the context. This is different to the previous version which is simply informational. Whilst providing your recipient with information is great, it does not imply action, and it is therefore more likely to be considered as less important and generally make less impact. The use of action words is already proven to work in other areas of email such as call-to-actions.


Out of almost 5,000 event invitations sent from our clients in the last quarter, only 3.5% used common action verbs in the subject line*. In fact, the most common subject line was “Invitation: Event Title”, not so engaging right? There is a large opportunity to improve your subject lines, engagement and campaign responses by utilising the power of action words. Whilst we have used the example of an event invitation above, action words may also be appropriate in other contexts such as newsletters (“discover more”).


So far we have implemented front-loading and action words in our refined subject line. Next week, we’ll explore how you can repurpose your subject lines, changing only a few words, to reflect greater value for your recipients.




* Over 45,000 campaigns were filtered by keywords relevant to event invites such as “event”, “events”, “invite”, “invitation”, “reception”, “dinner”, “drinks” and then from those campaigns subject lines cross-filtered for the inclusion of common action words such as “get”, “join”, “secure”, “explore”, “reserve” and “connect”.