4 Subject Line Tips That Will Increase Your Email Pitch Open Rates


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A good email pitch is one of the most important tools a PR pro can have in their arsenal and an integral part of a solid content promotion strategy. Why? Email is a fast and easy way to get in touch with some of the most influential writers, editors, and publishers out there – and it’s the channel on which 81% of publishers prefer to receive pitches.

Unfortunately, sending a message to a writer doesn’t always guarantee they’ll open it, or even notice it. Reporters are getting more email pitches than ever thanks to a huge spike in content marketing and digital PR. In fact, lifestyle and fashion verticals receive more than 300 pitches a day!

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We partnered with BuzzStream to ask 500 publishers how to rise above the content marketing noise and earn their attention. We learned that 85% of publishers open pitches based on the subject line alone, making your subject line the most critical part of your pitch. Next we asked publishers to tell us what they’re looking for when they scan their inboxes. The following four key features can help your subject line stand out, but be sure to check out the full survey for more tips on writing a great pitch that gets noticed.

Length: 6–10 words

Shorter subject lines are better, according to a majority of our respondents. 55% told us that they prefer subject lines between six and 10 words. While just under 20% said they prefer fewer than six words, such a sparse length might put your subject line at risk of being too vague. A good rule of thumb is to employ no more than 10 words, striking a balance between brevity and providing a specific description of your pitch.

Content/Tone: professional and specific

How do you make those 10 (or less) words work hardest for you? Most writers prefer that you pen a subject line that speaks directly to their beat. One writer told us, “Be very specific as to why I personally would be interested in what you are pitching.” To accomplish this, simply describe what you’re pitching and why it’s relevant to what they write about. Avoid the temptation to be witty or cute – less than 20% said they want to see humor in a subject line.

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Have you previously worked with the writer you’re pitching? If so, you might want to mention that in the subject line. 66% said they’d be at least somewhat more likely to open your email if you reference your past relationship in the subject line. If you’re able to establish that connection right away, you will have a better chance of catching their attention.

What to offer: exclusives and raw data

An exclusive is valuable to many writers; nearly half told us that they prefer being the first to cover a story. A subject line that clearly indicates this opportunity is likely to garner attention from publishers. If you’ve done some research or are sharing new information, you’ll also have an advantage: 85% also want to see raw data in your pitch because this allows them to form their own story on the topic (as opposed to a pre-written, canned offer). You can indicate either one of these aspects in your subject line by including keywords like “exclusive” and “raw data.”

In a world where fashion and style journalists are slammed with email, it’s not easy to break through the noise. But PR pros who take the time to write a genuine pitch with an effective subject line have a much better chance of getting their client’s story or content noticed.

For more on what publishers revealed in our survey, including the consequences of bad pitch practices, check out Fractl and BuzzStream’s full survey on how to improve your Subject Line Open Rates.


About Cristina Lachowyn

Cristina Lachowyn is a Media Relations Specialist at Fractl, a creative digital agency that specializes in high-quality content creation and placement. Cristina has successfully placed content on several top-tier sites such as Huffington Post, AOL Daily Finance, Marketwatch, and The Atlantic. She’s a native Ohioan enjoying the balmy and beautiful life in South Florida.

Photo Credit: Elite Daily