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.

So, what do you do?

When you’re starting an email marketing campaign, you need to focus on writing good 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” subject lines achieved the lowest open rates.

For instance:

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

Ready to find out what email subject lines for marketing actually work?

Let’s take a look at 36 of the best email marketing subject lines that have been proven to help businesses increase open rates.

Table of Contents

1. “Hey”

This is one of the best email 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 leanings, you would be intrigued to see why someone as important as Barack Obama would be addressing you with a familiar “hey.” This is the reason why an email subject line like this can get a high open rate.

hey - email marketing subject lines

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

Adding some humor to an email subject line is the perfect way of getting a higher open rate. In this example, the quip turned a typical-looking email subject line into an interesting and funny email subject line that’s much more appealing to recipients. Such ideas for funny email subject lines can help you drive your email and online marketing campaign towards success.

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

A study conducted by Adestra analyzed 95,000 email subject lines from across the globe. Researchers found that there are over 200 top trigger words to increase your open rate.

Did you know?

The use of “Sale” resulted in an open rate of 23.2%, whereas “Save” delivered only 3.4% opens. Thus, using an email subject line with the word “Sale” can be extremely helpful to improve your open rates.

This can help you get the best out of your online marketing campaign as well. But you should avoid words such as “Save” in the email subject line because they can reduce the open rate of your emails.

4. “Top 10 under $10”

Email subject lines with numbers or lists are intriguing and attention-grabbing.

Did you know that the human brain is naturally drawn to numbered lists. Implementing this to your email campaign could effectively persuade more recipients to open your emails.

You can try to craft an email subject line like the one in the example to increase your conversion rates. It’s a great idea to do A/B testing of these email subject lines yourself too.

Through A/B testing, you’ll be able to find the best email subject lines which work better for your marketing campaign.

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

Warby Parker, for example, gets its timing right by sending out prescription renewal emails two weeks before the actual expiration date. The tone in this email subject line 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

So, why does this work?

Because these email subject lines is can trigger a certain urgency in the reader’s mind.

This is called the fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). By reading an email subject line such as this one, they’ll be instantly prompted to open the email and purchase the product. This helps increase the email open rates and also makes the marketing campaign successful.

6. “212 Blog Post Ideas”

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

When the email subject lines are straightforward, they may seem more genuine to your subscribers. This can push them to open your email to check it out. That’s why the method in this example can help in giving a great boost to your marketing campaigns.

7. “How (Company Name) Got Your Name”

Regardless of your product, email 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.

The best part about it is that you don’t need to think too much while creating it too.

If the email subject lines make the subscribers feel that they’ll learn something new, they may open your email.

The key here is to make the email seem genuinely interesting for them too. This helps hold their attention and they may keep opening your emails with such email subject lines in future marketing campaigns too.

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

This is another great example of using “lists” in email 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 lines

Such email subject lines incorporate the usage of numbers to increase their open rates. At the same time, they talk about something interesting that may catch the fancy of the subscribers. This helps drive the success of your email-based marketing efforts.

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

YouTube in the subject line is exciting and eye-catching in your inbox. These email subject lines are great examples of perfect subject lines. It speaks to the user who’s most likely interested in viewing the top 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

The best part?

The content in emails from YouTube is always tailored to the preferences of the subscriber. This relevance improves the chances of them opening the email.

Additionally, email subject lines like the one in the example clearly list down the number of videos in the email. This further helps you catch their attention.

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

Top email 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.

When does this work?

Such email subject lines can work extremely well with loyal fans of your business as they will constantly be on the lookout for the latest offerings from your business.

11. “You’re Missing out on Points”

Nobody wants to miss out on great benefits. JetBlue takes advantage of this in the best way in its email 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.

When the email subject lines tell your subscribers that they’re about to lose out on something, they’ll instantly catch their attention and act as a call to action as well. It is due to this FOMO that the open rates of the email and online marketing campaign increase.

12. “Your Order #…”

In the previously mentioned MailChimp study, it was found that short, descriptive emails have the top 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.

Take a look at how Shutterfly sends business emails about existing orders using the order number in its email subject lines:

Shutterfly sends an email for order - email marketing subject lines

Remember, your customers are always on the lookout for new information and good news about their purchases. When your email subject lines mention the order number, it becomes clear to them that the email contains information important to them.

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

This is one of the simplest and most direct email subject line examples. And it helps create curiosity in the recipient. Readers would be curious as to what top products your company has to offer for this season. Incorporating such emails into your holiday campaign can help you grow your sales.

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

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

Such email subject lines pique the curiosity of the subscribers because they will instantly want to know the status of their account. This is a great way to improve your email open rate and brand reputation all at once because your business is being transparent about things.

15. “Rough Day?”

So simple yet so intriguing, Sephora sent out personalized emails with questions like this one in the email subject lines. 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

So, what’s the secret?

Such email subject lines appeal to the emotions of subscribers. Those subscribers who’ve genuinely had a bad day might find the email relevant and open it. This can help in improving the open rates of emails for your marketing efforts.

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

This example compels readers to click open because it might benefit them. At the same time, email subject lines like this one create curiosity as to what they could be currently doing wrong with AdWords.

Such email subject line examples can particularly appeal to digital marketers who work with AdWords regularly. This is because they’re constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their click-through rates.

If they’re committing any mistakes, they could be harming their CTR. This is why they’d be very interested in knowing these mistakes.

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 subject lines. They have capitalized “DO NOT” for a stronger effect, therefore making it the perfect line for increasing your campaign’s open rate.

18. “My Gift to You…”

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

You must ensure that your email subject lines make it clear that there’s something special in the email for your subscribers.

Additionally, make sure that you do provide something worthwhile in your emails as the subscribers might not open your future emails if there’s no real gift inside.

19. “M3”

For most of us, our inboxes are filled with unopened emails. Long email subject lines are often too distracting for readers. Short, one-word email 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

Such email subject lines can instantly trigger FOMO. This is because the subject line mentions an amazing offer and also its validity.

The “48 hours only” gives the subscribers a deadline, or a last chance, for the offer and they’d instantly want to make the most of it. And the use of exclamation marks can further add to exclusive offers. Which helps increase the open rate of such email-centered marketing strategies.

21. “Latest (Company Name) 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 about 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.

Such catchy email subject lines can instantly grab the attention of those subscribers who want to go out for a drink. They’ll instantly expect something informative in the email and this can increase your email open rates.

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 subject lines can successfully get readers to open your messages.

Who is it for, you ask?

This type of subject line appeals especially to those who’re already looking for gifts for their close ones. If targeted to the right people, these email subject lines can increase the open rates of your marketing campaign drastically.

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.

Email subject lines that talk about offers can instantly catch the attention of subscribers. Those who’re interested in purchasing your products will definitely open the email to understand the offer after seeing such a subject line.

27. “THIS Disappears at Midnight”

Email subject lines like this one stir the interest of readers with a time limit and trigger a sense of last chance to get this deal. Recipients will be curious about what will be disappearing at midnight if they don’t open. It’s yet another marketing campaign that leverages FOMO to act as a call to action.

28. “(Company Name) Bulletin for December”

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

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

Delight your subscribers with a special offer for their birthday.

Rent the Runway, for example, 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. This helps improve the results of their campaign.

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, or last chance,  in your subject line. They are best used as a call to action when you have a sale going on.

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

Violet Grey, for example, used this email subject line in their campaign.

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 email subject lines 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 subject lines are the best. 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. They can work wonders for your business and marketing campaigns.

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 target audience. You should create useful content and notify readers about it with the best email subject lines.

For example:

If you have a video, guide, report, or tutorial to offer to your subscribers, mention that in your subject line. A few possible email 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 broken record salesy pitches. This makes it difficult for businesses 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 email 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”

Funny email subject lines, like the one in this example, also compel readers to open your emails. However, it might take you a bit more thought to come up with humorous, catchy email subject lines for your business.

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 top offers in your email subject lines.

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. The best subject lines like the one in the example can help improve your open rate.

Which Ones Did You like?

These are just some of the best email subject lines that I know are extremely effective for marketing purposes. The key is to understand your customers and adopt a tone that suits them best.

Use creative, crisp email subject lines and your marketing campaign will work wonders for you!

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


  1. It is very important for the marketers to write good subject lines. I particularly liked the idea of adding humour to the subject-lines. Humour makes the subject lines unique and creative. I also liked the concept of to-the-point subject-lines as they generally grab the attention of subscribers.

  2. Hey Shane, great job. Thanks for sharing the article. I agree the subject line is one of the most important elements in email marketing because the short, catchy and meaning full subject line can increase your campaign open rate.

  3. Thanks for sharing this information. I have shared this link with others. Please keep posting such information.

    1. I’m glad you loved it. Thank you so much, your comment really motivates me to share more of such information.

    1. That’s nice of you to say. Thank you so much. Keep coming back for more such information.

    1. I’m glad you loved it. Thank you so much, your comment really motivates me to share more of such information.

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