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6 Examples of Highly Effective Subject Lines

Jun 16, 2015   |   4 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

effective_email_subject_linesHow many emails land in your inbox every day? 20? 30? 75? Think again. The average working professional receives more than 100 emails per day. This poses a challenge not only for the beleaguered professional who has to sift through her email inbox, but also for the marketers who are tasked with ensuring their emails stand out and convert on defined goals.

The path to email marketing success starts with getting your emails opened, and the best way to accomplish this feat is by crafting truly spectacular subject lines.

Here are six examples to help spark your creativity:

1. Fanatics


Subject Line: Welcome to the Best Monday Ever!

Customers of sports merchandise retailer Fanatics received this email the morning of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball championship game.

What’s not to love about the way this subject line/email messaging combo work together to send the reader into a basketball frenzy? After months of regular season play and a crazy March Madness, college basketball fans are already bursting at the seams with anticipation for this big day. This subject line deftly plays into what Fanatics’ sports-crazed fans are feeling, creating a winning attention grabber to seal the deal.

2. WhichTestWon


Subject Line: Test of the Week: Does Button Color Matter on Mobile?

As email marketers, we love reading about A/B testing. But, the topic isn’t always exactly riveting. That’s why we’ve got to hand it to WhichTestWon for knowing how to grab our attention.

The subscription website, known for publishing case studies on conversion optimization, sends regular “test of the week” emails. These emails show readers a real-life test, and asks readers to guess which option won. It’s a genius method for increasing subscriber engagement.

What we really love about these emails, though, is the super-specific subject lines. Not all of the tests included in these emails are pertinent to email marketing, but we can always tell with a quick glance which emails pertain to our specific interests. WhichTestWon clearly understands what its readers are looking for, and respects its subscribers’ time by offering easy interaction.

3. Experience Life


Subject Line: Learn how to give a neck massage.

To be honest, we think people probably opened this Experience Life article with the goal of forwarding it to their significant other. In other words, if the company’s goal was to increase shares, it likely achieved its objective. At the end of a long day, there’s not much better than a fantastic neck massage.

This subject line wins a place in our hearts for its sheer imagery. Just reading the sentence, you likely automatically relax your shoulders and imagine the pure bliss of a massage. With just a little effort, you can create similarly powerful imagery with your subject lines, too.

4. Eater Boston

Subject Line: Where to Drink Beer Right Now

This subject line comes from a recent post shared by our friends at HubSpot. Even without a screenshot of the email, we felt compelled to include this Eater Boston communication in our list due to its pure timing brilliance. According to author Ginny Soskey, the email landed in her inbox at precisely 6:45 p.m. on a Wednesday evening.

“Think about it: You’re just over hump day and want to decompress with a few coworkers after work,” Soskey says. “Right as you’re about to head out, you get a notification on your phone that says, ‘Where to Drink Beer Right Now.’ Perfect timing makes this subject line something you can’t help but click on.”

We wholeheartedly agree. And now we’re thirsty, too.

5. EntreLeadership


Subject Line: Why You Need to Be Awkward at Work

OK, we’re piqued; why do you need to be awkward at work? Financial guru Dave Ramsey gives us something to ponder with this short and (frankly) baffling EntreLeadership subject line.

As explained by Chip and Dan Heath in their book “Made to Stick,” when people feel a gap in knowledge, it’s akin to having an itch that needs to be scratched. By opening this gap (i.e. proposing people be awkward at work), the reader has an irresistible urge to fill the gap. It’s the same reason people are willing to sit through a bad movie: we possess a seemingly illogical need to know how the movie ends. In the case of this email, we need to know why anyone would suggest adopting a behavior we’ve probably worked to avoid.

While surprise gets our attention, our curiosity makes us want to take action. By saying the opposite of what your subscribers expect, you’ll easily grab their attention.

6. WootBot


Subject Line: Kawaii AND Shirtstorm designs AND Villains AND a pony! (pony not included)

We’ve included this last example for two reasons: First, because it made us chuckle. Second, because it pokes a little fun at the hyperbolic language found in too many subject lines. After all, how many emails are sitting in your inbox right now, breathlessly exhorting you to ACT FAST because the SALE ENDS TOMORROW and THE BIGGEST SAVINGS EVER await? The problem with email subject lines that promise the moon and more is readers stop paying attention quickly.

Eclectic online retailer woot! knows how to inspire interest. By keeping its subject lines lighthearted, its messaging reflects the company’s quirky brand identity and slightly offbeat merchandise. This subject line, and accompanying message, has enough personality to encourage subscribers to click through to the website and spend some time browsing.

So what’s on your list? Which emails jump out of your inbox and demand to be noticed? By taking time to gain inspiration from your favorites, you can create more enticing and effective subject lines and quickly build an active and engaged roster of subscribers.

The best way to write subject lines and messages your subscribers love is to understand their interests. Get to know your customers better with a free trial of InstantData!


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