A whopping 376 billion emails are sent every day. And yet sadly, a large percentage of them go unopened. Good, helpful emails that never even got a chance…
…Unless you have an awesome email subject line. These 40-character tidbits are the MVPs of email marketing—even more important than the email body. And with so many types of emails, there are many types of subject line styles that can increase your open rates. Read on to learn how to write good subject lines for email, including tips, templates, and real examples to get you started.
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Email subject line best practices
Here are some general email subject line best practices to follow in your email marketing efforts.
- Test your subject lines. Write 3-5 subject lines for every email and then choose the best—or use A/B testing to pick winners Note that due to the iOS 15 update, declaring winners based on open rate may not be the best route.
- Keep it brief. Between 30 and 50 characters. According to a MailChimp study, emails with 50 characters or less have 12% higher email newsletter open rates, and 75% higher click-through rates than other emails.
- Avoid spam traps. Don’t use weird spacing, an excess amount of punctuation or caps, or special fonts and avoid spam trigger words like earn extra cash, make $, get out of debt, click here, 100% free, will not believe your eyes, and other clickbait terms.
- Personalize when possible: Not just by including their name, but information specific to their location, their purchase, interests, and more. You can use email automation with dynamic tokens for this.
- Use preheader text. This is like your subject line’s subtitle, where you can add more detail to increase the email’s appeal. Move the “view in browser” links and other mumbo-jumbo to the bottom of the email so you can make the most of the preview field.
Preheader text adds value and also looks cleaner in the inbox.
How to write great email subject lines
- Hook them immediately. Use interesting words, a compelling stat, a relatable phrase, or convey the value.
- Have fun with them. An ample amount of alliteration attracts! And rhyming. And song lyrics. And emojis. Those tiny little communication miracles of the metaverse.
- Write conversationally. Write like a human being. Even if your brand has a more serious tone, it’s still best to use a conversational style for readability and friendliness. For example, use contractions like “you’re” rather than “you are.”
- Call readers to action. It’s never a bad idea to try a call to action phrase in your email subject line. This makes it clear what your email is about and readers like that.
- Ask a question: Asking your readers a question, as opposed to a standard statement, immediately engages them. Questions enter an instant dialogue with users, making them more likely to be opened.
- Rough day?
- Are you making these X mistakes?
- Will you save 50%?
- Look at your own inbox. If you see great subject lines that you think will work for your business, snag’em! Tweak to your liking and adjust to your brand voice.
- Emphasize scarcity: We have a deep, inherent terror of being left behind, of missing out. That flock mentality was a survival instinct once, but now it’s just another way of adding urgency to our subject lines.
- Pay X for Y (48 hours only!)
- Ends today! 36-hours outlet sale. This is your last chance…
- 5 hours only!
- Use brackets and parentheses: These are a good way to call out important information without caps, or to organize lots of information.
- Use you/your. While name-calling is on the out, it’s still considered a best practice to use “you” and “your” wording to speak directly and comfortably with readers.
- Be specific. Even if you’re incorporating an element of mystery into your subject line, it should still give the reader some idea of what they can expect.
Unfortunately, the lack of specificity in this subject line has not won my trust…
Catchy email subject lines
There are lots of different ways to catch your readers’ eyes and attention. You can be…
Controversial (just be careful with this one)
- Your Marketing Sucks: Why You Need to Think Local
- Why Your 5-Year-Old Is More Digital Than Most CMOs
- Pet Training Best Practices Need a Redo: Here’s Why
- Cat’s outta the bag! Surprise sale tomorrow—up to 50% off!
- It’s confirmed: Our prices are lower than the temperature outside—come on in!
- Pressure’s on: How much can you save this week?
- Wait what? Game-changing tips you’ll wish you knew sooner.
- Marketing attribution: Tips & Types, Which One is Right?
- How’d we do? Help us help you?
- 2024 Ecommerce Trends: The Old & New, Tried & True
- Join the Rover pack on social!
- Click click click BOOM dynamite.
- New arrivals! Seriously cool (warm) jackets.
- Last chance to score savings on game-time gear!
- Hmm no posts last week? [Tips if you’re stuck!]
- Madison, are you making these lawn care mistakes?
- 30 seconds to spare? [3-click survey!]
Lyrical (this is a big one)
- LEAN STARTUP: Baby Got (Feed)Back – Putting the Lean in Learn
- Oops [figure in the news] did it again…
- Shine bright like a…[something unexpected here]?
- [Topic]: You. you. you. oughta. kno-ow.
Inspired by current events
- [Trend] might be all the rate…but we’ve got something even better
- Kristen, take a break from [event] with [your product]
- [Event] ends [date] but our sale carries on!
- 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Y
Good email subject lines
There’s a lot to be said for minimalism. While creative marketing helps to distinguish your brand and connect with your audience, there are times when simple (presumably boring) and direct subject lines are best. Time is of the essence and your users want to know what’s what without having to think. Good email subject lines can be…
- 10% Storewide – December 1-12
- Enjoy 15% off + Free shipping ✈️
- Get ready for Easter with [company]
Cut and dry
- PODCAST: 5 Steps to Accelerate Career Growth
- [GUIDE]: Name of Guide
- Tax Tips Webinar Monday @1pm
- [Important news event]: What You Need to Know
- Our hours are changing! (Opening earlier ☀️)
- Your order has shipped. Yippee! 🤸🏾♂️
Cold email subject lines
It is possible to grow your business with cold emails—if you get them right. And the first step to getting them right? A good subject line. And this may be personal preference, but whenever I see a “quick question” subject line, I immediately delete it. Here are some alternatives.
- [Your company + their company]…2 minutes later today? 🕰
- Read your blog post on [topic]
- Tips to improve [company name]’s X
- Congrats on [latest achievement]!
- A [better/easier/faster] way to [goal]
- Resources for [company]…take or leave! (this is the BYAF concept)
- A new solution for [pain point] 😮
- [Achieving goal] is easier than ever now with [your company name]
- Your thoughts on [what you specialize in/the pain point you solve]?
- How do you compare to [competitor]? Touchy subject?
The best email subject lines for content promotion
Sharing content via email can help drive traffic to your website and give exposure to content that your readers might not know to search for online. Remember, a great blog post title makes for a great subject line, so indicate the value of the content and quantify when possible to give the reader an idea of what to expect.
- How to Plan Your Move in an Hour or Less 🕑
- [Ebook] ⚡️ Speeding up the Development and Design of Websites ⚡️
- Steal our Marketing Hacks (Seriously!)
- 15 Business Card Templates Up for Grabs
- [FREE GUIDE]: Name of Guide
- Guide Inside! 8 Ways to [Achieve Benefit]
- How to Start a Business [Free Guide]
- 🙌 Finally—a cheat sheet to [topic]! 🙌🏾
- The last guide to [topic] you’ll ever need.
- Top Secret! 🤫 X Lesser-Known Ways to Improve Your [X]
- Name, X% of [compelling stat from or relevant to your content]
The best email subject lines for customer appreciation
Engage your customers with customer appreciation emails, and not just on Customer Appreciation Day! (Changes annually, usually in April or May). You can send these emails whenever you want—on holidays, anniversaries or just because. Personalize these when you can, and do NOT use the words “valued customers.”
- Free gift. No catch. Just because. ❤️
- Our way of saying thanks…
- Hi Kristen, enjoy this token 🏆 of our appreciation.
- Customer Appreciation Day calls for a celebration…
- Customers like you deserve freebies like these
- Thank you for X years together! 🎁
- Happy [business name]versary! Grab your discount
On a related note, you may also be interested in these thank you for your order messages and templates.
Event email subject lines
Event emails should almost always come in a series: the invite email, the reminder, and the thank you/follow-up.
- Back by popular demand: [Event Name] Round II!
- It’s That Time Again…Annual [Event Name] April 12
- We’re in Town! Free Tacos in City Square 🌮
- Yappy Hour this Wednesday @ Bark Park!
- You’re Invited! Startup Success Breakfast (Come hungry!)
- Save Your Spot Now! SEO Webinar – Limited Seats 🪑
- Paul, join my June 8 workshop for designers.
- Monday: Pub Run at 6 pm!
- You’re invited: The Future of CMX [Spots limited!] 🏃🏾
- [Webinar]: Cut Your Costs in Half – in Half the Time!
- Don’t miss out…Game Watching Party!
- Let’s talk CAC – Q&A Session 5/28
- Meet the Author: Irma Haskin [TUESDAY @ 2pm]
- So… how was it? Share your #hashtag pics!
- That was a blast! [Pics included!]
- Thanks for coming out!
- We loved seeing your face!
- Thanks for attending [event name]!
Follow up email subject lines
In some cases, a simple “Re: [original subject line]” works just fine for follow-up emails. If you’ve tried this to no avail or if this is part of a nurture series, consider these:
- [Name], did our guide help?
- Another resource for you, [Name]!
- Your recent download—any questions?
- Any questions on the quote we sent over?
- Touching base re: gutter cleaning estimate
- [Name] here, following up on your floor plan
- Hi [Name], checking in since our last chat
Holiday email subject lines
Call me biased, but LOCALiQ is holiday subject line heaven. It is also there that you will find a treasure trove of seasonal subject lines for every month of the year. Here’s the list:
You might also be interested in writing a holiday customer greeting email.
Introduction email subject lines
- We oughta get to know each other…
- [Name] here, from [business]
- Introducing [Name] to [Name]
- Inquiring about [topic]
- Hi [Name]! Referral from [Name]
- Reaching out to you via [Referrer’s Name]
- Fellow [college] alumni reaching out.
- Fellow [niche] business owner looking to connect.
- Looking to chat with [role]s like you.
- Reaching out about [niche/topic].
- Nice meeting you, Shana!
- Continuing our conversation from [event]
- Great to meet you at [event name] last night!
- Mention something specific you talked about
- As promised: the invoice tool I use!
Referral email subject lines
- Give $10, get $10, in 10.
- Refer a friend and get $20!
- Refer friends. Get points. Cash in. Repeat!
- Join our referral program it’s free (and super easy).
- Refer your friends and save!
- New referral program! Free to join!
Reminder email subject lines
- Time is running out…
- Hurry! BOGO won’t last long ⏳
- Your coupon’s not going to redeem itself…
- Half-off ends TOMORROW! [to-mor-ROW]
- Your Gift Card is Expiring—Hurry In! 🏃♀️
- Last chance to save 50%!
- Say goodbye to savings .👋🏾
- Only 3 days left to save BIG
- X is coming up…tickets are running out!
- Five days until the big reveal 5️⃣…4️⃣…3️⃣…2️⃣…
- Will We See You This Wednesday?
- Reminder: Cook for a Cause THIS Friday! 🥙
- You Forgot to Save Your Seat!
- Only 2 more hours…then the secret’s out! 🙊
- Workshop Reminder: How to Build a Resume [TUES 2PM]
- We Can’t Wait for Tomorrow! (Have You Registered?!)
- Well…are you gonna buy it?
- Time to pull the trigger [Name]!
- We’re on the edge of our seats over here!
- You forgot to check out!
- Name, don’t forget to complete your purchase!
- Name, looks like you left some stuff in your cart.
- Those [items] are waiting for you with sad 🥺 puppy eyes…
- Don’t let free shipping go to waste
- Forgot something?
- Your basket is having abandonment issues 😢
Review/survey email subject lines
- Do you have a minute (literally) to review us?
- Let’s be friends 🎈 Like & review us!
- Loving Smile Dental? Review us!
- How was your service at ZenSpa?
- How did we do? Help us help you.
- We want your feedback! All of it.
- Thanks for your review! 🙏🏿 🙏 🙏🏽
- You rock. Seriously. 🗿
- We SO appreciate your review!
- You reviewed us?! THANK YOU!
- Your review means the world! 🌎
- Your opinion matters: 3 minutes for your feedback
- Got 30 seconds? [5-click survey!]
- Got a minute? [Quick ⚡️poll so we can better serve you.]
- Feedback requested: How are you liking [business name]
Thank you email subject lines
- Thank you for choosing [business name].
- It was great to see you! Thanks for coming out
- Thanks for your purchase! Receipt (and a treat!) inside.
- We asked, you answered. THANK YOU!
- Your order is on the way! (Thanks so much for choosing us!)
- We got your payment. Thanks!
- Thanks for signing up. Now what?
- Your support means so much to us. Thank you!
- Thank you. Just, thanks.
- We couldn’t settle on the best way to say thank you…
Welcome email subject lines
Welcome emails can welcome readers to your newsletter, customers to your business, students to your online course, and more. Regardless, your welcome email subject line should be cordial and exciting and give a hint of what they can expect—whether with your tone or with their subscription.
- Welcome to #branded hashtag
- Cheers for subscribing! 🍻
- Welcome to [business/newsletter name]! 3 steps to get started
- Hey [name], welcome to [business]!
- You made it! ✅ Complete your registration for [product] inside.
- Name, are you ready to meet the [business name] welcome wagon?
- Welcome to the club! Your coupon awaits…
- Welcome! Important info (and fun stuff too)
- Nice move! 😎 You’re now subscribed to [newsletter/product].
More ways to improve open rates
Have great subject lines but still having trouble with your email open rates? There may be other factors at play, such as:
- Is the email viewable? If your email doesn’t read well on a user’s device, they won’t bother trying to decipher it.
- Are you being a pest? If you’ve been emailing folks every day, they may be fed up with you and won’t be as likely to open your emails if you’ve been making yourself an annoyance.
- When did you send it? Many people don’t check their emails as often on the weekend. Check out our post on the best times to send an email newsletter.
- Quality of your email list. Is this a solid, targeted email list? If your list isn’t high-quality, it may reflect in your open rates. Follow our email list building tips to get the right readers.
- Is the “from” field a person? Oftentimes, an email coming from a person in your company feels more friendly and trustworthy than the company name.
Hopefully we’ve given you the information you need to make email subject line eye candy. These tips should help with open rates, but retaining those readers? That’s up to you! (Just kidding, we’ve got a guide to email copywriting that will help, and a free download 30 Free Small Business Email Examples & Templates that will supply all your email needs.
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