How to Write a Compelling Email Subject Line

We have written about the importance of having an email marketing plan several times on this blog and mentioned it on the podcast. Using email has been the number one driver for our growth these past 21 years – and it’s the difference between having the small little massage shop to now our 4,000 square foot spa. Connecting with our clients and inviting them back in via email is a no brainer for us.

But, there is a lot to think about with email, especially how to get noticed in a crowded email box. Many people, including myself, have a crazy amount of emails stacked up. We have an open rate of 30% for most of our emails – because we send great emails that matter and we have great email subject lines.

email subject lines

This is what your client’s email inboxes look like. You have to stand out.

The email subject line is the one thing you need to get them to open up the email to read. You don’t want to send out an email only for no one to read it. Getting clients to open them is the first step in getting them away from their computer and into your day spa.

Here are some of the things we do:

1. We keep it short and sweet

If you have an email subject line that is too long is bad for business. One you want to get to the point. The email subject line needs to give just enough information to get someone to open it. Too many words and it gets cut off, or it looks spammy.

But the real reason is that most people check out the email on their phone and if your subject line is too long they won’t see it fully. You have to consider mobile when putting together marketing campaigns online because more and more people are turning to their smart phones as their primary online portal.

So get to the point, don’t waste people’s time.

2. Try to personalize the subject line

Customizing a subject line might feel silly, but it works. Adding a first name to the subject line naturally, invites customers to click on the email. Think about birthday or anniversary emails. Most clients know that these are formatted by computers so they might skip yours. But, if you send a subject line that says “Happy Birthday John Doe, Here’s a spa treat” now all the sudden they’re interested.

Other ways to personalize is to send a subject line with the therapist’s name in it. “Look, Tammy has open appointments this week,” works well for filling appointment books and feels personalized because it’s their massage therapist.

3. Avoid spam traps

Spam is only good when Hawaiians do things with it – this is science, and you can’t convince me other wise.  Spam in email is gross, unnecessary, and unethical.

But, too often people trying out email marketing for their spa fall into spam traps.

Spam traps are small things you do to sabotage your email success. This can include using spam language in the subject line like “sale” “deal” or even “$$$.” If you can avoid these types of words excellent.

Another thing that trips up spam traps are types of email accounts. If you are using, @hotmail, @yahoo you’re going to have problems with spam filters. You need to invest in using your as your email. There are many ways to set this up, and it can get technical, but it’s worth it! It gives an instant impression of professionalism. And it will keep you out of the spam box.

4. Ask a question

Asking questions in your subject line is a great way to get people to click on your emails. Some suggestions:

“Does your neck hurt right now?”

“When was the last time you had some me time?”

“Is your office stressing you out right now?”

Then offer the solution – right in the email subject line.

“Does your neck hurt right now? We have massage openings.”

“When was the last time you had some me time? Try a day package.”

“Is your office stressing you out right now? Play hooky and get a facial we won’t tell. ”

There are a lot of different ways to do this, but the point is asking a question that is personal and then answers it by suggesting a product or service in the email.

5. Use deadlines when possible

Deadlines work with a flash sale or program offering. But being clear about how many days left is a way to get people acting. It does create a sense of urgency – especially if you’re trying to fill last minute appointments.

Our favorite is right before Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. Seriously you put the subject line “Only 3 days left to make it the Best Valentine’s Day Ever, ” and the client will open it. Especially those male clients looking to purchase online gift certificates.

6. Make an announcement

Announce you have appointment openings. Let people know you’re offering a service. Be specific in the email subject line: “We’re now offering cupping to help with low back.” This is a specific announcement; we’re highlighting a new service and where it can help.

Announcements can include, new education, new products, new hours – use the subject line to put the most relevant information in first.

7. Be yourself

If we were totally serious in our email subject lines, it wouldn’t sound like us sending the email but instead some formed copy we got. Gross.

Use the type of language you would use in the spa – if you’re funny be funny. If you are serious, then be serious. But be yourself.

For example, we love being funny – we don’t often succeed, but we do try to be funny. Try some humor in your subject lines like “Your low back is silently screaming out for some massage time.” It’s cute but accurate to who we are as a day spa.

8. Don’t make promises – unless you can keep them

In the subject line don’t use click bait. You know when you click on an article that says “Chris Pratt and Anna Faris separating” that you want to read about that. How grumpy are you when it takes you instead to another article? Your clients will feel the same way if you say you have appointment openings in the subject line but offer no way to make an appointment.

If you promise something, even small in the subject line deliver on that promise.


The final tip should be a no brainer, but too many of you still want to WRITE IN ALL CAPS!!!!

And then you’ll throw in a bunch of exclamation points.


We are in the spa industry – all caps are stressful, and exclamation points might be too exciting even for my spa. Grammar is important kids. I’m not always perfect, but I do try to avoid all caps because it’s shouting in the internet world.

We offer way more suggestion and best practices for email marketing success in our Ultimate Email Marketing Course. There you’ll go at your own pace as I show you exactly how we create full appointment books through email. You can learn more here.


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