First impressions matter, and yes, love at first sight does exist. Your subject line serves as the initial interaction customers have with your email – yet for a lot of marketers and copywriters, it’s still only an afterthought. While we agree that the email itself is the star of the show, that doesn’t matter if people don’t make it past the subject line.
Make no mistake; your subject line is the most important element in your email campaigns. But you don’t have to take our word for it.
Harsh reality – your perfectly curated, carefully designed, and strategically written email is worth nothing if it ends up in a spam folder.
To make things easier, we’ve taken our favorite subject line tips and listed them below. They’ve worked for us, and they’ll work for you too:
1. Keep it Short
Reminder, a majority of people are now reading emails on a mobile screen. So make the experience easy for them by keeping the subject short and to the point. Yes, you can absolutely be creative – but avoid being complex, or you’ll drive people away.
If half of your subject line gets cut off, you risk creating the wrong impression and distorting the meaning. We recommend keeping within 50 characters, though you actually have about 75 characters to play around with (and you thought Twitter was hard).
Personalizing isn’t only about including the names of your recipients. Get creative with your subject lines using other tactics – like retargeting data to pique a prospects’ interest. Segment your email list to create subject lines that have specific information which will strike a chord with your subscribers. Send birthday emails and special offers, or use geographical tags to make your emails relevant on an individual level.
- Example: Today’s your birthday. And here’s a treat from us.
3. Insert a Popular Brand for Mega-Targeting
Make no mistake, brand names in subject lines work. The best part? You can create ultra-targeted email campaigns based on what your recipients bought in the past. For instance, if you’re having a sale on shoes and you have three different brands on sale, you can segment your email list based on which customers have bought what. If one part of your list has purchased Kenneth Cole shoes in the past, your subject line for this group should feature the words “Kenneth Cole.” This gives your customer the opportunity to stick with the brand they like best.
- Example: These Kenneth Cole loafers have your name on them.
4. Use Emojis
More and more people are using emojis to express themselves. Keep in mind not all subject lines will be fit for emoji use. If your message can be paired with emojis, your audience might be able to relate better to your email, resulting in more opens.
Avoid replacing words with emojis. Instead, use them to compliment your text in case your chosen character doesn’t display in your recipient’s inbox.
4. Don’t Be Spammy
There are two hurdles your subject line needs to cross – spam filters and busy customers who don’t want to receive marketing emails. Coming across as pushy, loud, or overbearing can easily put people off and can even make them mark you as spam.
But there are also other ways of falling into the spammer category. Promising something in your subject line that you don’t deliver in your email, for example. Or, having a subject line that’s completely unrelated to your email. Broken links, using spam trigger words, outrageous offers, spam-like design, and bad UX/UI are some other red flags to watch out for and avoid.
5. Use Customer Faves to Sate Curiosity
Most human beings are at least curious about what other people are buying. If a product has a huge audience and gets tons of good marks from customers, most likely, your recipient will be more inclined to buy it. For this reason, we believe that a “customer favorite” product featured in a subject line is an easy sell.
- Example: They’ve sold out three times, but they’re back.
The Midas touch of email marketing. A/B testing your subject lines will give you real-world insight into whether or not your emails are working. Send out only two versions at a time so you can compare – and don’t forget to record your learnings for future campaigns.
- Test 1: You don’t want to miss this sale.
- Test 2: All our t-shirts are 50% off.
7. Ask a Question
Asking a question is a subject line technique that works well because it gives the customer something to think about. Your question should be something on almost every customer’s mind. Even if you answer the question in your subject line, recipients will be inclined to open your email to learn more.
- Example: Need a cool backpack for Fall? We’ve got ’em.
8. Make It a List
A list is an easy way to offer something of value, sell a product or service, and not seem too obvious about it. A list gives a customer a subconscious message that your email is organized in a way that makes it an easy read. They’ll be more compelled to open your email if they know ahead of time that they’ll not be facing a wall of text. Add products or services to this list, and you’ll not only get them interested in opening your email, but you can showcase various products at the same time. Here are some good examples:
- Example: 10 products to take with you on vacation.
There are so many more types of subject lines that you can explore with your campaigns. Collect data over time to see how best you can use this prime real estate to stand out in your customers’ inboxes – and minds.
10 Brilliant Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Open Rates
Most people involved in email marketing know the importance of a brilliant email subject line. Seeing that you only get a few seconds to nail your email’s first impression, the subject line obsession is more than justified.
That is why crafting poor email subject lines is one of the biggest email marketing mistakes, regardless of how established your brand might already be.
Apart from nailing that first impression, your email subject line is the most decisive factor for recipients to open your email and engage with its content. Even worse, it’s what could get your email marked as spam and harm your sender’s reputation.
The numbers seem ruthless, but we reassure you there is a way out. All you need is a talented marketing team and a bit of creativity. We know you already have the first part, so all we need to do is help you with the second part. Continue reading to discover how to create clever email subject lines that get noticed – and, most importantly, opened.
What Makes a Great Email Subject Line
Creating email subject lines that grab readers’ attention and serve your marketing objectives should be your top priority. To achieve that, there are certain elements that subject lines should have, no matter what. Let’s check them out:
- Make it brief. Email subject lines are meant to be short and show the email’s value beforehand. That is even more important, seeing that many recipients will open your emails on mobile devices. Fortunately, most ESPs like AWeber and the most reliable AWeber alternatives allow you to preview how your emails look on different device types and check the components you must improve.
- Get to the point. Email recipients are busy people looking for the benefits that come with the emails delivered to their inboxes. To stand out in such a crowded space, you need to share what valuable insights your emails have in store for them. So, if you can help your audience see outstanding results and want to spread the news, your email subject line is the appropriate place.
- Keep it relevant. Your email subject line could be clever, unique, and precise. But if it doesn’t match the email content, it will do more harm than good. Your subject lines should be aligned with your email objective so that readers know what to expect and if they are interested in reading more. The last thing you want is to make a promise you won’t keep and make them feel misled.
- Personalize and conquer. Most subscribers have received tons of emails and have grown weary of emails without personalization elements. They need to feel special and that your brand has done its homework about who they are and what they want. Use the recipient data you have at your disposal to show them you care and give a human touch to your email promotions.
- Avoid spammy tactics. Would you open an email with a subject line that is fully capitalized and includes spam-triggering words? Probably not, and neither will your subscribers. To stay away from spam, avoid too many special characters, excessive capitalization, and spammy words like “buy,”, “money,”, or “click”.
Brilliant Email Subject Line Types That Get Opened
There are several approaches to catching your email recipients’ attention, from employing humor to piquing their curiosity. But putting in that creative spirit is a whole different matter, right? That’s why we compiled a list of the most brilliant email subject line examples to spark your inspiration and help you increase your open rates.
When you include an element of urgency in your email subject lines, your recipients will open your emails in no time. Consumers tend to prioritize their purchase decisions based on the time sensitivity of the offer, and recipients are no different. Words like “now” or “limited time” can work wonders for your open rates, triggering subscribers to open and click through your email. So, if you have a time-sensitive offer, choose your marketing messaging wisely to highlight it in your email subject line. However, don’t overdo this type of promotion since receiving too many limited-time-only deals could get the opposite results and annoy your subscribers.
Subject line: Limited-time offer: free premium wristband with any Steel HR purchase.
Nokia is a brand that knows how to influence its subscribers to take the desired action and move down the sales funnel. This Valentine’s email promotion leverages time-sensitive language to create urgency. Not only that, but they made sure to include all the necessary information for readers to know what the deal is about. Recipients appreciate it when you save them time, and they can tell if they are interested in your promotion beforehand.
Highlight your personality
Most experienced marketing professionals are aware of the benefits personalization brings to the table. But while tweaking email elements to the recipient’s preferences is of utmost importance, getting personal isn’t just about that. Subscribers love authenticity and unique marketing messages that stand out from the crowd. Your email subject lines must reflect your brand personality, no matter the email objective. But for this tip to work, you must establish your brand’s tone of voice. You can play it funny, witty, professional, or whatever characteristic fits your business objectives. So, get your creative juices flowing as long as you keep it relevant and consistent with your overall branding.
Subject line: Your cart is sobering up
Abandoned carts are an integral part of a successful e-commerce email marketing strategy, and it’s an excellent field to showcase your brand personality. From start to finish, the email copy is brilliant and reveals the personality behind the brand. Liquor Loot uses a clever pun in the subject line related to the product left behind. The email content is aligned with the subject line and the overall brand tone. Even if recipients don’t click on that “Treat yourself” CTA, they will open the email and relate the tone to the brand the next time they get an email from them.
Email subject lines that announce exclusive deals, one-time offers, or special discounts are usually the ones with the highest open rates. That’s because they lead with the benefits, letting readers know what they can gain from opening and reading the email content. By being clear with your recipients from the start, you build a trusting relationship with them. When your email delivers on the promise in the subject line, you are one step closer to building customer loyalty. So, if your product or service solves an everyday challenge and helps them meet their goals, your email subject line should give readers a hint. To successfully follow this tip, make sure the language you use is actionable and precise, urging them to take action.
Subject line: Get a free handcrafted gift when you
This email subject line from Starbucks does much more than just mention a specific offer. They keep the recipient hanging on by stopping mid-sentence, almost forcing them to open the email and learn on what occasion they get the free drink. It’s straightforward, precise, and worth their while. From the benefits-oriented verb to the actionable email CTA, this email is about the reader taking the desired action within the specified time limit.
Ask a question
Posing questions is a popular content optimization strategy. Questions come with a double benefit: they increase recipients’ engagement and pique their curiosity. When subscribers come across a question in your subject line, it forces them to stop and think about the answer. To draw recipients into your email content, opt for intriguing questions that could open up a conversation rather than one with a simple yes or no answer. The sky is the limit here, but try to keep up with rising audience trends while staying on-brand. Their natural curiosity will be more than enough for them to want to learn more about it.
Subject line: How much do you know about sleep?
Casper’s subject line isn’t just posing a question. The email subject line takes it one step further by giving them an idea of what the email is about. That way, recipients know exactly what’s in it for them and expect to find helpful information regarding their sleeping habits once they open the email. This email subject line example ticks all the boxes by combining an intriguing question that picks recipients’ interest and valuable content that addresses their pain points.
Catchy Email Subject Line Examples
When it comes to email subject lines and the elements you could include to grab your readers’ attention, the sky is the limit. To stir your creative juices, we will present some of the most catchy email subject line examples that left us no choice but to open the emails.
- Subject line: Forget FOMO—see what’s waiting for you (Nike)
Looking for ways to leverage FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in a subject line to catch your recipient’s eye? FOMO is a psychological factor that many marketers rely on to motivate their target audience. Nike is our winner here. Readers know the email content addresses their needs just by reading the subject line. By asking recipients to forget about FOMO, Nike makes them feel included and that they are about to enter a world of exclusive deals and compelling product recommendations.
- Subject line: Get the story behind the brand (Drizly)
You can take one thing for granted: people love stories. Recipients have grown weary of companies going and on about their selling proposition. Sharing the story behind your brand adds a human touch to your emails. Your subscribers are curious about how everything started. Drizly’s subject line is attention-grabbing and straightforward. Email recipients appreciate knowing what they will read beforehand – in this case, inside information that makes them feel part of Drizly’s exciting journey.
- Subject line: Quiz: Which shower scent fits you best? (Harry’s)
Quizzes are among the most effective elements marketers can use to increase engagement. Even if a recipient isn’t interested in buying, the word quiz in an email subject line will make your email stand out in a stuffed inbox. That’s why Harry’s subject line highlights the quiz included and what it’s about. The quiz is related to the brand’s products, so recipients will be prompted to take it and find which shower scent matches their personality. And why not buy it, may we add.
- Subject line: Your basket is having abandonment issues… 🙁 (Jack Wills)
Humor is, by definition, a crucial element to include in a catchy email subject line. Companies that employ it in their subject lines watch their open rates and recipient engagement increase. This email subject line from Jack Wills is clever and to the point. It puts a smile on the reader’s face and motivates them to open the email, go back to their abandoned items, and proceed with the purchase.
- Subject line: You asked, we answered: What do I get as a member? (Thrive)
We can’t stress this enough; your audience loves knowing you care for them instead of just selling. Even more so when you hear them and are willing to address their concerns. This is precisely why this subject line from Thrive is so successful. It gives precise information on what readers will read in the email, meaning the benefits they gain as members. Subscribers always appreciate getting the answers they asked for, and “You asked, we answered” is as customer-centric as it gets.
- Subject line: Share your thoughts and get a chance at a $200 gift card! (Everlane)
Including surveys in your emails is highly recommended to increase recipients’ engagement. Surveys make customers feel their opinion matters and could shape your marketing strategy. In this email, Everlane isn’t limited to asking subscribers to answer the survey. The brand takes it one step further by adding a compelling incentive and highlighting it in the email subject line. Recipients are eager to offer feedback to a brand they have already interacted with. Even more so when it comes with a chance to win a $200 gift card.
An email subject line is a critical component of every email promotion, giving marketers’ a headache each time they start crafting an email campaign. That’s because this tiny piece of content urges or discourages email recipients from opening an email. And seeing that they get tons of emails every day, you need to make that limited-character text count.
To do that, make sure to study your target audience and employ a brand tone that hits their soft spots. Create time-sensitive offers, ask questions they will be eager to answer, and always remember to show why your email marketing message is worth their while. Whatever you do, ensure you monitor how your email subject lines perform.
All you need is reliable email marketing software with A/B testing capabilities that allow you to check what works and what doesn’t. Even if you discover your subject lines hit the target, don’t rest on your laurels and use those insights to continue tweaking your subject lines to drive long-term success.