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How to increase open rates with irresistible email subject lines (with 50+ examples)

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Kristina Lauren

Email subject lines are one of the most important aspects of email marketing—they act not only as the gateway to your emails but they also play a key role in driving more conversions. But what makes a good email subject line? And how can you write one that motivates people to open your email? In this blog post, we’ll share some helpful tips on how to craft email subject lines that your subscribers won’t be able to resist.

Choose relevant email subject lines over clickbait

In the quest to stand out amongst all the other emails in your subscribers’ inboxes, it may be tempting to use subject lines that are more likely to surprise your audience, make them laugh, or at least leave them scratching their heads in curiosity. While this isn’t inherently bad, you also want to make sure that your subject lines have some recognizable element to your audience. If a subject line comes across as too foreign or trivial, you could end up turning your customers off instead. On the flipside, your subject lines may even benefit from being more specific in order to be relevant. For example, if your audience consists of HR professionals, the subject line "5 Ways to Boost Employee Retention" would likely appeal more to them than “Best company practices”.

Unique email subject lines stand out from the rest

It's important to make your email subject lines unique in order to grab your reader's attention. Generic subject lines like "Check out this article" or "Hello, friend!" will likely get ignored, but messages with creative or more specific subject lines have a better chance at being read. You can even use the recipient's name in the subject line for a more personal touch. Make sure to experiment and A/B test with different types of subject lines to see what works best for you and your audience.

Make your email subject lines short and sweet

Brevity is key when it comes to email subject lines. You want to make sure your readers see the most crucial information as quickly as possible so that they don't get overwhelmed or discouraged from opening your email. When possible, we recommend keeping your subject lines around 50 characters or less and between six and seven words. Anything longer than that and the subject line will likely get cut off by the email client, or the subscribers might not understand enough about what the email is about to encourage them to open it.

Tips for writing good email subject lines

  • Try using power words. These are words that have a lot of impact and suggest intrigue or excitement. Some examples include "new", "exclusive", "last", or "latest". 
  • Be playful and funny. A little humor can go a long way in getting attention.
  • Use numbers and statistics. This is especially useful for people who are looking for information quickly.
  • Be creative: say something outside of the box—just make sure that it’ll still relate to the content of your email.
  • Ask a question: it’s a quick, nearly automatic way to catch someone’s interest since they’ll most likely be motivated to answer or find an answer in your email.
  • Use variety: don’t always use the same type of subject lines. If you find a formula that works, be sure to mix it up occasionally to keep your readers on their toes and anticipating what is next.

Email Subject Line Examples

Below are over 50 examples of successful email subject lines from companies you may already know and love. Take a look to gain some inspiration and see why these subject lines were so effective. 

Abandoned Cart Emails

Here are some tips for crafting abandoned cart email subject lines:

  • Mention the specific item that was abandoned. For example, a DNA kit.
  • Use a call-to-action, such as “Complete”.
  • If the product is time-sensitive, remind your audience that the clock is ticking.

Here are some abandoned cart subject line examples:

  • American Giant: Did you see something you liked?
  • Columbia: Price drop on your favorites!
  • Blu Dot: Wait up. Your order is not complete.
  • Food52: Oooh, good choice! We set it aside for you.
  • Eve Lom: Complete your order with $15 off
  • 23andMe: Your DNA kit is waiting for you
  • Whisky Loot: Your cart is sobering up
  • Google: The Google Wifi in your cart is going fast
  • Dote: Your shopping bag misses you!
  • Jack Wills: Your basket is having abandonment issues… :(

Referral Emails

Here are some tips for crafting referral email subject lines:

  • Include the amount of referral money. 
  • Tell your audience what they have to do to get a referral reward. 

Referral email subject lines examples:

  • MeUndies: Spread the Love (And Get PAID💰)
  • Allset: 💸 Cha-ching! You’ve earned $10
  • Italic: Be a good friend, get $15
  • Saje Natural Wellness: Wellness grows when shared
  • Maude: Get $5 off for every friend you refer.
  • Uber: Good news, you just earned a free ride!
  • Ibotta: Let’s give them something to Gobble about
  • On: ☁️ Your invite from Matt to join On

Feedback/Survey Emails

Here are some tips for crafting feedback and survey email subject lines:

  • Ask a specific question about what you want feedback on.
  • Let your audience know how long giving feedback will take.
  • Tell your subscribers how valuable their feedback is.

Feedback and survey email subject lines examples:

  • Ritual: A couple of questions for you...
  • Yelp: How was your order with My Ivy Thai?
  • Reelgood: Help out the underdog! Vote 👏 for 👏 Reelgood 👏
  • Handy: John, what do you hate most about cleaning?
  • KAYAK: Time is almost up to rate your National Rental.
  • Typeform: We need your help to make Typeform better!
  • Joyus: We have 1 question for you…
  • Medium: How Likely Are You to Recommend Writing on Medium to a Friend or Colleague?
  • Thumbtack: Tell us what you think of Thumbtack in 30 seconds

RSVP Emails

Here are some tips for crafting RSVP email subject lines:

  • Use urgent language like “now” or “today” to entice your audience to RSVP sooner than later.
  • Reveal what the topic or focus of the event is. Ex. “Thurston Moore Live”
  • Let them know when the event is exactly.

RSVP email subject lines examples:

  • Monday.com: Join one of our daily webinars on remote work
  • Salesforce: Sign up for Dreamforce now. Your front-row seat awaits.
  • Slack: Why you won’t want to miss Slack Tour
  • Thinkific: The wait is over: Day 1 of Think in Color is here!
  • MailNinja: Free beer and pizza?
  • Fender: We're Here. We're Live. Join Us.
  • Fender: Tonight! Thurston Moore Live
  • Litmus: Pack your bags for Litmus Live Boston
  • Meetup: Schedule your first Meetup
  • Cotton Works: See you in Denver next month? ⛰

Welcome Emails

Here are some tips for writing welcome email subject lines:

  • Mention what happens now that your audience is subscribed. For example, points are awarded
  • Make a unique first impression. welcome emails understandably have the word “welcome” in their subject line, but Cat Person took a more creative and comedic approach as you can see below.

Welcome email subject line examples:

  • Cat Person: So we hear you're a Cat Person…
  • Framer: Hi there—here’s how to get started on your first prototype
  • Appcues: 🚢 Great to have you on board! 🚢
  • Guru: Welcome to Guru! Let's get started 😎
  • Zapier: Getting started: What's a Zap?
  • ZoesKitchen: Welcome to ZK Rewards! You’ve earned 50 Stripes
  • Indeed: Your account is confirmed. What's next?
  • Truebill: Welcome to Truebill -- Let's Start Saving!
  • Hylo: Welcome to Hylo. Here's your referral code.
  • Impossible: 🌱 Welcome to the wonderful world of Impossible Foods!
  • Superpeer: Thank you for becoming a Superpeer

Discount Emails

Here are some tips for writing discount email subject lines:

  • Disclose how long the offer will be valid for
  • Give the amount of the discount
  • Tell your audience exactly what’s on sale

Discount email subject line examples:

  • Fitbit: Upgrade & save $50 on Versa 3
  • Platforma: 24 Hours Left - Platforma Private Offer - 30% Off
  • Fitbit: ‘Tis the season for $100 off Sense
  • Cotton Bureau: All Blank tees now $12!
  • The Washington Post: Do you want to save $60 on a year of access?
  • Plus: Because we love you.
  • Honey: We found price drops for an item you Droplisted
  • Zwift: Last Chance: Save $100 on the Tacx Neo 2T
  • Sound: TODAY ONLY: Save 20% sitewide 🥳
  • Butter: We have an exclusive offer just for you! 💛

How to test email subject lines

A/B testing is one of the most effective ways to determine what entices people to open your email versus what causes them to hit the delete button. You can test several different aspects. For example, you can send a short email subject line to half your audience and a longer one to the other half. Or send one portion of your subscribers a subject line with emojis while leaving the subject line emoji-less for the rest of your recipients. You can even simply change one or two words: “Save 50% today” vs “Last chance: Save 50% today”. We even have a previous blog post all about A/B testing your email marketing

We hope you found these tips useful and are now ready to start writing your own winning email subject lines. But if you’re still looking for more guidance on the topic of subject lines or any aspect of email marketing, our team at Scalero is here to help you out. As email experts, we can assist you with creating effective email templates and campaigns, or even help you revamp your email strategy. Reach out to us today to learn more!

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