Exceptional Email Subject Lines [Round Up]

Exceptional Email Subject Line Ideas

Why do some emails get opened and others passed over blindly?

It's all about what people see in their email preview. That's usually who it's from, the subject line, and maybe a tiny snippet of the contents.

And it's the subject line that has the biggest impact.

47% of email recipients open email based on the subject line. 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line – iContact

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A little while back, we wrote an article with 23 Tips for the Best Email Subject Lines That Get Opened. Now, we've done some more research to see what makes an email subject line more ‘open-worthy' than others. Which ones get the higher open rates over time? What do those email headlines look like?

To get the best data and examples for you, we went to 3 of our favorite email marketing sources to see what they have to say on the topic.

Here's what we came up with:

Digital Marketer – 101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2020

Digital Marketer broke down their best performing emails based on several categories that work well for getting opens. They try to include several of these in each subject line:

  1. Self-interest – Tell your audience the specific benefit they gain from opening your email
  2. Curiosity – Pique interest by not giving away too much information
  3. Offer – People always like hear about a great offer or free stuff
  4. Urgency/Scarcity – Used sparingly, these are the most powerful subject lines
  5. Humanity – Be thankful and remind people you're a real person
  6. News – People like to know about the latest developments
  7. Social Proof – People also like to know what their peers are doing
  8. Story – Start the story in your subject and they have to open to continue

My personal favorites from their list are

[LAST CHANCE] 85% off sale ends today!

I use this time of subject line all the time during launches. The brackets draw the eye to what it's about, at which point the reader will continue reading to see the explanation.

Hiring a content marketer? Use this guide….

Totally targeted. You're only going to open this if you're interested in content marketing. But then there's that freebie that entices everyone!

[EMAIL TEMPLATE] Fix your company’s biggest marketing issue

This one also uses brackets and all-caps to draw attention to the big draw of the email – the free template. Everyone loves templates, and if it's going to fix an issue for your business – even better.

There are also lists of subjects lines from Digital Marketer's previous year's reports. But be aware that trends do change with times. It's always best to do your own testing.

iContact – Email Subject Lines – Proven Strategies that Work

iContact did extensive research on email subject lines and put together a detailed infographic that gives you the top strategies to incorporate in your own.

The first two statistics in the graphic are worth noting if you think this post is a waste of your time.

Considering how close the ‘spam' button is to the ‘trash' button in most email platforms, you should definitely check out the graphic to get some tips:

iContact Best Email Marketing Subject Lines Infographic 3

Hubspot – 18 of the Best Email Subject Lines You've Ever Read

HubSpot compiled 18 email subject lines they love, primarily from some top retailers.

Some of the criteria they used for picking their favorites are:

Fear Factor – FOMO means ‘fear of missing out'. According to HubSpot, our hyper-connected society amplifies this fear even more. That makes FOMO extremely effective in email subject lines. E.g., Jet Blue makes the most of it with:

“You're missing out on points”

Concise and Direct – If your email topic is serious, don't fool around with cute wording. Take Buffer's email subject line as a great example during a period of crisis:

“Buffer has been hacked – Here is what's going on”

Self-Identity – Make it clear in the subject line that the email is for your reader, and send it at a time that's personalized for them if possible. E.g., Rent the Runway's:

“Happy Birthday Lindsay – Surprise Inside!”

Be Negative – There are times when negativity can encourage opens in a good way since people naturally want to avoid mistakes or be contrary. E.g., from Thrillest:

“DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities”

or, from Manicube:

“*Don't Open This Email”

Take a look through the other examples from HubSpot to spark some creativity for your own subject lines.

ThriveHive – 40 Great Email Subject Lines

Finally, ThriveHive pulled together their favorite subject lines based on the purpose of each, such as for an Introduction, Follow Up, Invitation, Thank You, Reminder, Customer Appreciation, and Request for Review.

They also provide some of their own tips for great email subject lines, including:

  1. Deliver ONE clear message
  2. Keep it brief (around 30 characters)
  3. Be obvious about what you want people to do
  4. Avoid spam words, especially in ALL CAPS
  5. Use numbers to quantify value
  6. Personalize with information from other conversations

Here are a few of my own favorites from their list:

“Hello from ThriveHive”

It's simple and to the point. If I'm brand new and just signed up, it feels good to get an email that just says hello and doesn't ask me for anything.

“Here's the Budget Template we discussed”

If it's something you asked for, you'll probably want to open this email.

“Don't Miss Out… Football Tailgate Party”

I have no interest in football, but the ‘don't miss out' is a phrase that appeals to people's fear of missing something that everyone else is doing.

“Jodi, thank you for your donation!”

People like to be appreciated and the auto-personalizing with their name makes it even more eye-catching.

“Your Gift Card is Expiring!”

This is one of those examples of sending the right email at the right time. And most people appreciate the reminder since they're busy with other things and forget.

“Customer Appreciation Sale”

Customers love knowing they're getting something special that others don't have access to. And it builds loyalty to show your appreciation.

“How was your service at ZenSpa?”

This is a great way to get feedback and a review at the same time. Usually, people don't tell you what they experienced unless you ask, whether it was good or bad.

Wait! I have even more. Here's an article that was just emailed to me whose subject line made me open in the first place.

Rather than the usual “please add this mention to your post”, the subject line of the email was:

“This is about to get meta….”

Then I read the article and found so many great examples that I had to include it here:

The 115 Best Email Subject Lines We've Ever Read

There are 8 categories in the blog post with tons of lines to spark your own ideas:

1. Personal Subject Lines
2. Promotional Subject Lines
3. Funny Subject Lines
4. Last Chance Subject Lines
5. Creative Subject Lines
6. Curiosity Subject Lines
7. Social Proof Subject Lines
8. Follow Up Subject Lines

Here are a few of my favorites I plan to tweak a bit for my audience:

Only the best for you, Seray (Fenty Beauty)

This is Not a Sale. It’s a Celebration. (United by Blue)

Don’t let your offer go cold (Happy Socks)

Rumor has it.. (IGK)

Shhh… Don’t tell anyone (ESQIDO)

Still thinking it over? Maybe this will help… (Sock Fancy)

Check out that post and you're guaranteed to come away with email subject lines for your next series or campaign.

And that's your round-up of just a few examples of great email subject lines. You'll need to continually test out your own to see which get the most opens. Be sure to explore your email platform's testing features. For example, see if you can easily perform a split test of 2 different subject lines to see which gets more opens.

For your autoresponder email series, you can see over time which emails get more opens. If you see one that has a much lower open rate, try tweaking the subject line a little to use some of the tips in this post.

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  1. Nice article! I recently started my journey with email marketing and GetResponse. It’s a challenge to create a good headline. I guess there’s a lot of work to do before you create a truly good headline that resonates with the target audience. It’s good that they can be A/B tested. 🙂

    1. Diana, I definitely think the headline is the most difficult part of an article. I always start with a rough one and then redo it at the end. And I’m still rarely happy!

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