By Kelly Forst April 20, 2023
They say don’t judge an email by its subject line, but let’s be honest: We’re always keeping an eye out for the best of the best. After all, the subject line is the first impression your message has on its recipients and can help you improve your opens and clicks.
That’s a lot of pressure for a seemingly short line of text.
So you may be wondering, what to put in the subject line of an email? While there is no secret to the perfect subject line, there are a few words and phrases that can help get more eyes on your emails.
Create a sense of urgency
Getting people to take action from your email can be difficult. There’s a lot that goes into getting more opens and clicks. Creating a sense of urgency is one of those things that can have a big impact on whether or not your email gets read.
Here are some examples to get you started:
1. Back in stock, so don’t miss out
2. This is your *last chance* to shop our sale
3. Tick, tock! 30% off sale ends soon!
4. Going once, going twice…
5. Members get first dibs.
6. We couldn’t wait ‘til Friday!
7. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
8. You might want to hurry…
9. A little (limited-time-only) present
10. Available for 24 hours only
11. Last chance to save big: Don’t miss out!
12. Only a few hours left to claim your discount”
13. Hurry, before this deal disappears!”
14. Tick tock! Time is running out for this offer
Have a strong action word
When it comes down to getting your emails opened, experiential verbs (like “celebrate” and “love”) perform better than functional verbs (like “spend” and “grab”). That’s not to say these words won’t work – it’s really all about context.
The thing that everyone can agree on is that if you don’t ask, subscribers won’t take action. So try throwing some of these high-performing words in your next subject line:
15. Celebrate with savings!
16. Act now for friends and family savings!
17. 3 DIY Frame Hacks You Need to Try Now
18. Trust me, you need this…
19. Send some. get some.
20. Don’t Let These Get Away
21. Join now and gain access to our premium content
22. Unlock your potential with our exclusive guide
Personalization. When it’s done right, it’s awesome! But when it’s done wrong? It can be borderline creepy.
Not all personalization needs to include your customer’s name. The most impactful personalized subject lines are those that contain information based on past behaviors like webinars they’ve attended or purchases they’ve made.
Here are a few examples of how to do it the right way:
23. Join me for a marg, Olivia?
24. Special delivery for Olivia
25. The jeans you don’t have (yet)
26. It’s time for your next visit
27. Congratulations Jill! You’ve earned a special reward.
28. Keep your Hyundai Sonata running like new for the next 100k miles
This is personalized specifically to a Sonata owner.
29. Get 10% off your next purchase of Levi jeans
This is personalized because this person previously purchased Levi jeans.
30. We’re celebrating you: Get your birthday treat now
This is personalized based on special dates such as a customer’s birth month.
Being redundant pays off, especially when it comes to your subject line. That’s because it keeps you, the sender, top-of-mind. And being top-of-mind helps build trust, which can lead to more sales. It’s a win-win!
Try including your name or your company name in the subject line, à la these brands:
31. New and exclusive to Kaufmann Mercantile
32. The Madewell essentials
33. Did somebody say new Glossier?
34. The Giant Weekly Newsletter
35. New and Exclusive to Sephora
We don’t mean to brag, but…
Just kidding, we totally do. And that’s because adding key superlatives to your subject line can help strengthen your core message and make it more effective.
Just check out these example subject lines to see what I mean:
36. New favorite dress, hands down
37. Here’s a special treat, just for you!
38. This is big, huge, gigantic, amazing, incredible…
39. Order something delicious
40. The PERFECT Facebook Ad
41. Best of the blog
42. A little luxury at a great price
Pose a question
A question is a great way to spark some curiosity around your email, but it’s the type of question that matters. Yes or no questions perform better than open-ended questions. And don’t forget about sentiment: Questions with a negative association (like don’t or can’t) are the worst-performers.
43. What do you think?
44. Do you like prizes?
45. Can you keep a secret?
46. How could you top this?
47. Today’s the day! Are you in?
48. Best gift ever?
49. Details, please! Did you like your purchase?
Punctuation and capitalization matter
Punctuation can completely change the tone of your subject line with one simple character. And that can impact how your subscribers respond to your message. Even the lack of punctuation can change the gist of your subject, keeping things casual.
Capitalization also has the same effect. Take notes.
50. MAJOR announcement!
51. Extra 30% off sale styles (!)
52. *permission to brag*
53. It’s giveaway time again…
55. we’re melting
56. alert! today only
57. And the winner goes to…
59. Flash. Sale. Alert.
Running a giveaway?
People love free stuff. Make your giveaway clear right away in your subject line to maximize opens and clicks.
60. Your chance to win, inside!
61. Do you want to win $100?
62. We’re giving away a $50 credit. Find out how to win
63. Giveaway! A cozy home care package
64. I’m giving away 5 prizes today — don’t miss out!
65. What can you win today?
66. You could win this…seriously…
A warm welcome goes a long way
Not only do new subscribers expect to hear from you soon (or immediately) after joining your email list, they want to. Greet your new subscribers with a welcome email. They’ll never be more engaged with you than in the moments after signing up — so take advantage.
67. Welcome to the Away family ✈️
68. You’re in! Now let’s get started…
69. You’re all set to save!
70. Welcome to ___!
71. Kelly, to say thanks for joining, here’s a gift just for you
Follow up email subject lines
Follow up with subscribers who recently purchased from you — or those who did not. You never know why someone may have missed your message. Maybe they were busy, or the first subject line didn’t catch their attention.
All is not lost. Follow up emails are a great tool to try again — especially if you automate your email campaigns.
72. Did you miss out?
73. Please review your recent purchase
74. You have questions? We have answers!
75. I’m keeping my promise…
76. Do you want your $20 credit?
77. Care to share? Get $20 off.
Thank you email subject lines
Saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way. Show your appreciation and gratitude for your customers by sending an email just to say thanks. You can even throw in a special offer as a thank you gift if you want to make them feel extra special.
78. This sale is our way of saying THANKS!
79. As our thanks: you’re getting 30% off
80. It’s our turn to give thanks 🙏
81. Thank you for shopping with us
82. How we say THANKS
83. Our thank-you treat
Your newsletter subject lines should focus on the main story or the main takeaway, meaning what do you want your audience to learn.
Here are 10+ fill-in-the-blank newsletter subject line examples that you can use in your next email.
84. You won’t want to miss this ____________
85. The Latest on (list your top story of the day)
86. Discover the secret to _______________
87. Ready to take your _______________ to the next level?
88. The future of ______________ is here!
89. How to ______________ like a pro
90. The top _______________ trends of the year
91. The ultimate checklist for mastering ________________
92. Stay up-to-day on the latest _______________ news
93. In Case You Missed It: _____________ News Roundup!
Add some humor
Nothing will grab your attention more than something that will make you laugh. Adding some humor to your emails is a great way to add intrigue to what could be in your email.
Here are some funny email subject line examples that will make your subscribers LOL in their inboxes.
94. Sip happens – let’s make it a happy hour!
95. Donut worry, be happy!
96. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s our latest sale!
97. Don’t snooze on this news!
98. We’re on a roll – 20% off all hoagies
99. It’s time to wine down.
100. We’ve got a lot on our plate – new menu items just for you!
101. We’re not lion when we say our products are the mane attraction!
E-commerce subject line inspiration
Drive more sales by trying out email subject lines that educate your audience about your product and promotions.
102. It’s here! [New product], just for you
103. Buy 1 [product], get 1 free
104. Last chance to save [discount] on [product]
105. Your [discount/offer] ends [time period]
Try these subject lines out for yourself
We’re big proponents of trying out tricks and tactics to see what works best. While you can’t predict results by looking at how past subject lines performed, you can use them as a basis for future iteration.
Try adding some of these words and phrases in your next few subject lines and watch your open rates skyrocket. Now that you’ve seen 100+ open-worthy subject lines, learn how to write better emails with our free course and guide!
Additional reporting by Olivia Dello Buono