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Email marketing, though effective, can be a tricky task if you don’t implement it correctly. Sending thousands of marketing emails will make no sense if the recipients don’t even open them to see what’s inside.

When you’re starting a campaign, you need to focus on writing email marketing subject lines that compel recipients to click. An analysis of over 40 million marketing emails by MailChimp revealed that descriptive and straightforward subject lines had the highest open rates.

This survey also found that “salesy” email marketing subject lines achieved the lowest open rates. For instance, subject lines like “Last Minute Gift – We Have the Answer” and “It’s Still Summer in Tahoe!” had the poorest performance. Their open rates ranged somewhere between 1 and 14%.

On the other hand, the email marketing subject lines with the best performance had open rates between 60% and 87%. Some examples of these top-performing subject lines are “Invitation from (Company),” “October 2005 Newsletter,” and “Website News – Issue 3.”

Now let’s take a look at 36 excellent email marketing subject lines that have been proven to help businesses increase open rates.

Table of Contents

1. “Hey”

This is one of the most effective email marketing subject lines because of its powerful pairing with an important sender name – Barack Obama. How would you react to getting an email like this in your inbox? Regardless of your political leaning, you would be intrigued to see why someone as important as Barack Obama would be addressing you with a familiar “hey.”

hey - email marketing subject lines

2. “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”

Adding some humor to your email marketing subject lines is a great way to reach a higher open rate. In this example, the quip turned a typical-looking subject line into an interesting and funny one that’s much more appealing to recipients.
Content Strategy Consultant

3. “Thanks for Joining – Here’s What’s on Sale”

A study conducted by Adestra analyzed 95,000 subject lines from across the globe. Researchers found there are over 200 popular trigger words to increase your open rate. Among these, the use of “Sale” resulted in an open rate of 23.2%, whereas “Save” delivered only 3.4% opens.

4. “Top 10 under $10”

Email marketing subject lines with numbers or lists are intriguing and attention-grabbing. The human brain is naturally drawn to numbered lists. Implementing this to your email marketing strategy could effectively persuade more recipients to open your emails.

5. “Uh-oh, Your Prescription is Expiring”

Warby Parker gets its timing right by sending out prescription renewal emails two weeks before the actual expiration date. The tone in these email marketing subject lines is also conversational with the usage of “Uh-oh.” The rest of the email looks like this:

Uh-oh, Your Prescription is Expiring- email marketing subject lines

6. “212 Blog Post Ideas”

Short, simple, and straight to the point; this subject line conveys the email’s content in just four words. Select email marketing subject lines that offer the desired product or blog post without being too “salesy”.

7. “How (Company) Got Your Name”

Regardless of your product, email marketing subject lines like this can attract your readers and compel them to open. It sparks the recipients’ innate interest in learning more about your company, thus enabling you to establish a connection with them.

8. “7 Most Annoying Twitter Moments of the #Oscars2014”

This is another great example of using “lists” in email marketing subject lines. SocialBro sends out emails notifying readers about new posts by simply using the post title as the subject line.SocialBro sends out emails - email marketing subject lineswebsite traffic ebook


9. “10 Jaw-Dropping Drift Videos on YouTube”

YouTube’s subject line is exciting and eye-catching in your inbox. It speaks to the user who’s most likely interested in viewing videos of this genre. Since the email contains a link to the videos, it compels readers to open it.

is exciting and eye-catching in your inbox - email marketing subject lines

10. “Introducing our Latest (Product/Feature/Service)”

Email marketing subject lines like this create a curiosity in the recipients. They’ll click open to see what’s the latest product or feature they could buy? It’s also direct because you’re already telling them what the email is all about.

11. “You’re Missing out on Points”

Nobody wants to miss out on great benefits. JetBlue takes advantage of this the right way in its email marketing subject lines. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is strong in today’s society. This email compels readers to find out more about what they’re unaware of.

12. “Your Order #…”

In the previously mentioned MailChimp study, it was found that short, descriptive emails have better open rates. So when you’re communicating with a user who’s already connected with the content you’re delivering, it’s best to be specific. See how Shutterfly sends an email about an existing order using the order number as its subject line: Shutterfly sends an email

Shutterfly sends an email for order - email marketing subject lines

13. “The (Company) Holiday Catalog is Here”

This is another direct and simple subject line that creates a curiosity in the recipient. Readers would be curious as to what new products your company has to offer for this season.

14. “Buffer has been Hacked – Here is What’s Going on”

When Buffer got hacked awhile go, they sent out reassurance emails with this attention-grabbing subject line. It’s direct, concise, and serious so that recipients know Buffer is calmly resolving the issue.

15. “Rough Day?”

So simple yet so intriguing, Sephora sent out personalized emails with this question as a subject line. The email shows that the company cares about how the reader’s day went, driving a higher open rate.

Sephora personalized email marketing subject lines

16. “Don’t Make These Seven AdWords Mistakes”

This email marketing example compels readers to click open because it might benefit them. At the same time, the subject line creates curiosity as to what they could be currently doing wrong with AdWords.

17. “DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities”

No one likes to make mistakes or fail. Thrillist plays on this natural human tendency in its email marketing subject lines. They have capitalized “DO NOT” for stronger effect, therefore making it even more compelling.

18. “My Gift to You…”

Who doesn’t like getting gifts? When you’re sending out an email with offers and deals, this subject line could be a great way to attract readers. Recipients are more likely to open the email like unwrapping a present.

19. “M3”

For most of us, our inboxes are filled with unopened emails. Long subject lines are often too distracting for readers. Short, one-word subject lines can be a great way to stand out. In the image below, Amazon’s “M3” subject line catches the eye far more than the rest:

Amazon’s M3 - email marketing subject lines

20. “Pay $1.99 for a New Bundle of 6 STEAM Games (48 HOURS ONLY!)”

Bundle Stars sent out an email with this subject line. It pretty much says everything about what the email contains. It clearly shows the available offer and creates urgency with the time limit. All the reader has to do is open the email for an offer link.

Bundle Stars - email marketing subject lines

21. “Latest (Company) News”

The addition of “News” to an email subject line can result in an open rate of about 47.7% according to the Adestra study mentioned earlier. Loyal customers want to learn the latest buzz in your company.

22. “Where to Drink Beer Right Now”

Imagine getting this email right when you’re finishing up your workday and ready to relax with some friends. You’d naturally want to open the email.

23. “10 Gift Ideas for Your Little Ones”

Picking the right gift can be a hassle, so sending out gift suggestions is smart. These email marketing subject lines can successfully to get readers to open your messages.

24. “Make Room in That Closet”

This is an excellent example of a simple, yet exciting email subject line. What if you got an email with this subject line from a clothing retailer introducing a new line of products? You’d be curious to find out what’s new in store.

25. “Get in Our Pants”

Creative and funny, this email subject line is another example of adding humor to your marketing. It’s a great way to get readers to open the email and find out what you’re offering.

26. “Free (Product1) with Purchase of (Product2)”

Directly expressing your outstanding offer in the subject line has the power to grab the reader’s attention. Anyone looking to buy the product will want to open the email and see what’s free.

27. “THIS Disappears at Midnight”

Email marketing subject lines like this one stir the interest of readers with a time limit. Recipients will be curious about what will be disappearing at midnight if they don’t open.

28. “(Company) Bulletin for December”

Simple and concise, this is another great way to increase your open rates. The Adestra study revealed that subject lines with the word “bulletin” had a 15.8% increase in opens.

29. “Happy Birthday, (recipient’s name) Surprise Inside”

Surprise Inside” – Rent the Runway sends out personalized emails to recipients on their birthdays and addresses them by their first name. They also offer an incentive or surprise for opening the email, which is an excellent way to get readers intrigued.

Happy birthday- email marketing subject lines

30. “Tonight Only: Get this NOW before it’s gone…”

It is very difficult to resist the fear of missing out. You can increase the open rate of your emails if you add an element of limited availability in your subject line.

You can also use “Weekend Only: Get this …” or “Last Day to Get…” for promoting special product offers or freebies.

Tonight Only - email marketing subject lines

31. “Is this the hottest career in marketing?”

We, humans, tend to desire closure. You can leverage this trait by leaving your subject line open-ended. Try to make your subscribers curious by asking them a question or saying something that sounds unusual.

But make sure that you provide them with an answer when they open your email.

32. “How to …”

Though simple, the “How to …” email marketing subject lines are classic. The reason that makes them so effective is that these email subject lines offer your subscribers a guarantee that they’re going to learn something.

33. “New Video: (Topic)”

The goal of your email campaign should not only be to increase brand awareness or revenue, you should also want to provide value to your audience. You should create useful content and notify readers about it with an appropriate subject line.

If you have a video, guide, report, or tutorial to offer to your subscribers, mention that in your subject line. A few possible subject lines include “Video! (Topic)” or “(Topic) – Get a [Free Report] Inside.”

New Video - email marketing subject lines

34. “[Name], this can help you grow your business”

Today’s consumers receive too many salesy pitches. This makes it difficult for brands and marketers to cut through the noise and reach their audiences.

The best way to grab your audience’s attention is through relevance and personalization. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.

You can do this by including the recipient’s name in the email subject line and offering them something useful.

35. “Boom shakalak! Let’s get started”

Subject lines that are funny also compel readers to open your emails. However, it might take you a bit more thought to come up with catchy, humorous subject lines.

Tictail is an amazing app that simplifies the process of starting an online store. They effectively use humor to boost the open rate of their emails.

Boom shakalak - email marketing subject lines Boom shakalak - email marketing subject lines

36. “40% Off on Your Favorite…”

Offers seldom fail to grab attention, especially when they are personalized. You can boost not just the open rate of your email, but also your revenue with such offers.

Promote a discount offer on their favorite products or the product they last viewed. For this, you will need to monitor and analyze your customers’ buying behaviors.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the email marketing subject lines that I’ve felt are extremely effective. The key is to understand your customers and adopt a tone that suits them best. Use creative, crisp subject lines and your email marketing campaigns will work wonders for you!

Got more quirky one-liners for email marketing subject lines? Share them with me through the comments below. And don’t forget to pen down your thoughts about this article.
Content Strategy Consultant