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Content Marketing, Strategy

11 Perfectly Written Subject Lines

It’s the first thing email subscribers see, so make sure your subject lines seize their attention

Lauren Dowdle
December 05 2019

Seldom are first impressions more important than your email subject line. 47% of email recipients open emails based on that line alone. And 69% of recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. There’s not much room for error when it comes to writing catchy, informative, and personalized copy to engage your subscribers.

Check out these examples of killer subject lines to use in your email marketing, and learn what makes subscribers want to click them.

More from PostFunnel and Optimove on email marketing:

1. Free Delivery for Kickoff 🏈

This one from Postmates hit several high notes — the emoji serving as the most eye-catching. When used correctly, emojis work wonders in attracting customers’ attention: 56% of brands that used an emoji in their subject lines had a higher open rate than those that didn’t. Only 9% of subject lines, however, contain emojis. When used smartly (and sparingly), emojis make for a fun and appealing surprise.

Now for the copy:

Using ‘free’ in the subject line is important; it leads to 10% more opens. And finally, Postmates sent the email on Saturday afternoon, looking to catch the attention of hungry sports fans busy watching the game.

2. I was right – and that’s not good for you

With an open rate of 69%, this subject line from Sumo was their highest-performing one. This approach intrigued customers—even if there wasn’t any context in the subject line—and prompted them to click the email. Their open rate is much higher than average, with a successful open rate being between 15-25% for most industries.

3. Hey [First Name]! Which one of these would be your favorite read?

When you combine both curiosity and personalization, you may just get a 50% open rate like EmailMonks did with this subject line. It enables readers to feel involved with the selection process, pushing them to engage with the campaign.

4 Since we can’t all win the lottery…

Stand out from the other emails promoting their prices, discounts, and deals — and show customers you know how to keep it lighthearted and real. This subject line from Uber is fun winks at the recipient through the message “until you can get a private driver, Uber is here for you.”

5 Let’s meet for Happy Hour

Why not kick off a conversation with your customers, starting with the email subject line? Instead of using the line to highlight the Happy Hour deal, Starbucks writes to its subscribers as they would a friend — using a fun outing to lure them into stores and check out their new drinks.

6 SUMMER TANK SALE! 30% off ALL tanks until Sunday!

Combine urgency, discounts, and all-caps, and you know you’ve got a winner. Project 615 really works the FOMO, showing subscribers they need to act now to get in on this deal. As with emojis, you don’t want to use this approach on every email campaign. But it can help your subject line stand out from the dozens of others received by consumers each day.

7 Hey. HEY. Don’t forget: Super Cash ends tomorrow!

Want a subject line sure to catch their attention? Old Navy is driving their message home with this clever example. You know it’s a good subject line when you read it and it sounds like someone is actually saying it.

Another point that stands out here is the absence of exclamation marks alongside the two “heys” at the beginning — because seeing an exclamation mark early on can raise red flag spam alerts for consumers, shutting them down immediately. Plus, subject lines with six to ten words have the highest open rate, accounting for 21%.

8 A Special Offer for Existing Jumpanzee Clients

Everyone wants to feel special, so any chance you have to do that for your subscribers is a win: like this subject line from Jumpanzee. They had a 50% open rate and converted 30% in sales with this campaign. The company personalized the subject line without using the customer’s name, creating the effect of group exclusivity.

9 *Don’t Open This Email*

Being told not to do something makes you want to do it that much more — that’s not just us, right? REBEL8 plays up the curiosity element with this subject line, a tactic often trotted out by other brands, too. Just make sure to back it up with something worth their time in the email body.

10 ¿ןɐǝᗡ pooƃ ʎןǝƃuɐɹʇS ∀ ɹoℲ ʎpɐǝᴚ

This subject line from Firehouse isn’t something you see every day, but it definitely caught subscribers’ attention. The campaign had a “Stranger Things” theme and played off of “The Upside Down” featured in the show. Firehouse sent the email the day before the show was released, showing they know how to go full out for a theme.

11 Your Weekly Writing Stats + 50% Off Any Premium Plan Continues

Consumers like to see how they’re performing and how they stack up against their peers, and Grammarly taps into those desires with this email. Not only that, but they also tack on a discount to make the offer even sweeter.

Try them all

There are dozens of types of email subject lines to test out with your customers, including ones focused on offers, news, personalization, humor, emotions and current events. Keep your audience guessing by trying out a variety of approaches so your messages don’t become stagnant in their inboxes.

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Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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