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Email Subject Lines

by stacy

The 9 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates

What number of unread emails are you carrying around in your inbox each day? 300? 800? 800? Perhaps 2,644 if you are like me and have multiple mailing lists. After a little Gmail spring cleaning, that’s it!

We get a TON of emails every day (105 billion are sent every day! Many of these emails are not opened. Information is flooding people’s lives, more than ever before. We don’t have the time to absorb it all. The chances of your email being ignored are pretty high – unless of course, you have a-rockin’ sockin’ subject line.

Your subject line is the first impression you make on users. Your email subject line can be described in many ways. More important than your email body. Many people love to have a great experience. a newsletter is useless if it doesn’t see the light of day.

There are many ways to create slam-dunk subject lines. We will be discussing 9 types of email subject lines, as well as sprinkling some examples. Because more opens means more online sales.

1. Subject lines for emails that are straightforward.

Minimalists have a lot of merits. Users need to be concise and clear in their subject lines. Time is always an advantage.

MailChimp has used an email subject line study we found that concise, descriptive subject lines work better than long, cheesy lures. Many marketing professionals disagree with this opinion. Some may be a little irritated by the suggestion that creativity and humor should be sacrificed to create good subject lines for email emails. This is worth noting. Notification emails should be concise and easy to understand. In which the user has already established a connection to the content you are delivering.

These subject lines often include updates or notifications about a user’s order status, social media activity, and so on. These emails serve a purpose so the subject lines must be precise.

Our free guide reveals the secrets to making your ad copy more clickable: 10 Tricks to Get the Klick

2. Funny Email Subject Lines

Humor can make your email stand out from the rest of the drab and boring ones. Humor is a delicate thing. It thrives on exclusivity which can be limiting if you want to appeal to the masses. However, if you know your audience well and your emails are targeted, a well-placed joke can get your email opened and can earn major reputation points with folks on your wavelength.

Some funny email subject line examples:

  • Please Touch me! Multitouch – Enterprise Delight
  • ESAPI – Defense Against the Dark Arts
  • Are Gamers Afraid of HTML5 Sheep
  • LEAN STARTUP – Baby got (Feed)Back! Putting the Lean In Learn

Although the “touch me” subject line is funny and will be understood by most readers the cleverness of other email subject lines may be lost on some users who haven’t taken the Voight-Kampff empathy exam or didn’t go to Hogwarts. If you can recite Sir Mix a Lot’s Baby Got Back word-for-word, you will love the “Lean Startup” subject line.

Note: The awesome email subject lines above and several text subject lines below are borrowed from this ClickZ article, full of many great examples.

3. Controversial/Shocking Email Subject Lines

Controversy (sometimes) sells, and it most certainly grabs attention. You must be careful when using shock, controversy, and insults in your subject lines. Although you may gain some attention, it could cost customers. This strategy will require you to have confidence in your knowledge of your audience’s tastes. Although it’s risky, the potential payoff is quite high. Would you just ignore the following topics? It’s unlikely.

  • Everybody is Gay: Social Media as Social Action
  • Why Your 5-Year Old Is Digitally More Than Most CMOS
  • Your marketing is failing: Why you need to think local

4. Single-Word Subject Lines

A simple and effective strategy for email subject lines is to use one-word subject lines. Let’s have a look at my Gmail promotions tab. The promotion tab is scheduled for a major makeover – Google is starting to display promotional emails in an image-oriented design inspired by Pinterest. If this new arrangement is successful, subject lines will be replaced by pictures as the central email element.

We still have to be concerned about the current status of the promotions tab. The promotions tab is a mess with piles upon piles of unopened emails. Which one is the best? It’s Amazon Local’s subject line M3 for me.

You can clearly see why Amazon Local’s subject line is so striking from a design perspective. Its length and shape are different than other similar-looking structures.

Another great email subject line example comes from Mequoda with the simple subject line of:


Although it is a single word, it can be a very emotional one. What should I be worried about? Am I in danger? What is going on? Are you experiencing an existential crisis or am I just confused? Emotionally-walloping words make a big impression.

5. Email Subject Lines with Numbers and Lists

Many of the factors that make up a good blog post title also make a good email subject line. Your subject line should include numbers. Our brains naturally gravitate to numbers. This tends to be why top 10 lists are so successful – lists are easier for our brains to process and they create curiosity, in addition to providing the promise of a quick and easy read.

Numbers and subject lines for email lists stand out because they are visually jarring, just like one-word subject lines and unusual punctuation. An article in The New Yorker discusses our adoration of listmania:

The essence of your email subject line should be visually striking. It’s up to you how you do it!

6. Personalized Subject Lines

Another way to increase open rates is to incorporate personalization techniques in email subject lines. Personalization does not mean including a user’s name in the subject line. This is a common practice that many people mistakenly consider spam. Instead, you can try targeting specific interests and language with location-specific offers. LivingSocial and Groupon have been doing this for years. They send emails with subject lines that promote deals in your local area.

LivingSocial also sends me emails about deals I looked at but didn’t end up buying by utilizing the very effective but always semi-creepy remarketing strategy. LivingSocial also sends me deals based on my past purchases. LivingSocial has sent me a few potteries and Paint Nite deals in the past. Art-related offers are what I most often see in my inbox. They have my ticket.

This subject line combines personalization via remarketing with scarcity to make an effective email subject. Brava!

It’s a good idea to get to know your audience so you can determine what language, style, and offers they will like.

Thrillist knows their audience – young, drinking crowd. Their conversational tone matches perfectly with their humorous email subject lines.

Thrillist understands their audience. Photo by Bem Devassa.

Thrillist also does a lot of other stuff. They have lists, localization, and tribute to holidays. What person doesn’t love to amaze their friends with funny Guinness facts about St. Paddy’s Day?

7. Questions and Other Punctuation in Email Subject Lines

Another way to stand out is with unusual punctuation and question marks. Exclamation marks are useful but not very powerful in subject lines. To attract ‘dem eyes, you can use fun symbols and loud punctuation.

Instead of asking your readers the same question as a standard statement, ask them a question. This engages them immediately. Users are more likely to open questions if they have an immediate dialogue.

The Banana Republic mixes scarcity tactics with a question. Sephora asks an emotionally engaging (really? you care?) With just two words, you can create a great subject line.

8. “Missing out” and Other Scarcity Strategies in Subject Lines

We fear being left behind and missing out. This was once a survival instinct, but it is now a subject line strategy to get us to buy. Email subject lines that threaten scarcity (limited-time offer!) tend to perform well, and this language is also common practice with squeeze pages. To avoid being “missing out,” people will do some very cold things. Throw in some scarcity words and you may be surprised how your click rates will change.

For serious success in the subject, examples above include numbers, punctuation, and scarcity.

9. Mysterious Email Subject Lines

Scooby-Doo and Sue Grafton will tell you that people love mystery. Perhaps readers will be more inclined to eat if they get a taste of something new.

Best Email Subject Line

Here are some good guidelines for email subject lines to remember when creating lures.

  • Multiple subject lines are possible. For every email, you should have 10 subject lines. You also need to write 10 titles for each blog post. Next, choose the best
  • It should not exceed 50 characters is best to keep subject lines under 50 characters. Subject lines of less than 50 characters have higher open and click-through rates than those of 50+. You risk being cut if you exceed 50 characters
  • Alliteration. A lot of alliteration is a magnet! Try it for catchy email subject lines.
  • More capsMore options. It will not help you to cover your subject in caps. Caps are powerful but should not be used lightly. Like grenades, you should use them sparingly and responsibly.
  • Know your audience. Understanding your audience and tailoring to them is the best way to create great email subject lines. This rule applies to all aspects of online marketing. While it may be more difficult in a short subject line, it is crucial that you match your audience’s interests, mannerisms, and other characteristics to get high open rates.
  • What is your tone? To attract readers, most email subject lines are conversational. BuzzFeed and Upworthy are well-known for their success.clickbaitUse casual and conversational headlines.
  • Get involved. It’s always a good idea to give it a shot. Call to ActionInclude it in the subject line of your email. Many people opt out due to the limited space in their emails, but a call to action can improve open rates.

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