The 3 things you can control to get people to open your emails

These are the only things you have control of when trying to get someone to open your email. Don't waste them!

The From Line, Subject Line and Email Snippet

If you’ve written an email or a newsletter that David Ogilvy would have been proud of, but it wasn’t opened, that email was a waste of time.

Unfortunately, we can’t force anyone to open an email, but there are three things we can control to give us the very best chance of someone opening it.

It’s the From Line, the Subject Line and the Email Snippet.

1. The From Line

The From Line comprises your nameemail address and, as a bonus, your avatar.

See the difference between my newsletter and the Field Notes newsletter?

The goal of it is to build familiarity with your subscribers so they recognize your emails and open them.

You can use your name, the name of your business, or the name of your newsletter. But whatever you do, be consistent.

The same goes for the email address. If you’re not going to go with a personal email address like I do, use something like newsletter@, email@ or team@. Something more personable to create some connection with your subscribers. It won’t kill your newsletter not to use one of these options, but every little detail matters.

Lastly, the avatar. Not all email clients use them, but it’s worth getting this setup. Here’s a quick guide to getting an avatar set up.

2. The Subject Line

You can make all the email mistakes in the book, but if you get your subject line right, people will open your emails.

The best subject lines are the ones where it reads like you’re writing to a friend or colleague.

The best place to find inspiration for these types of subject lines is your inbox. Scan through your inbox, specifically the emails you opened. What do those subject lines look like? What do they have in common? Here are a few examples of subject lines in my inbox that caught my eye and made me open them.

  • “A few short updates”
  • “Business ideas”
  • “2023 goals”

They are short and to the point; they don’t overdo it, and lastly, they piqued my curiosity, which got me to open them!

3. The Email Snippet

Think of the snippet as the sub-title to your subject line.

If you don’t include it, you’ll see weird characters, strange titles or a random sentence from your content displayed. Don’t let it go to waste, and write your own custom snippet! It’s yet another chance to get your subscribers to open your email.

Whereas your subject line should be kept short, the snippet allows you to expand on the subject line and can include personalization, such as their first name.

What you don’t want to do is give away too much in the snippet – leave that for your actual email!

If you have an email or newsletter you’re about to send, send us a test! We’ll happily reply with a few ideas on how to improve it. Send them to

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