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101 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates

Do you want to increase your email open rates? Marketers with high open rates use proven psychological principles to craft eye catching email subject lines that grab user’s attention and prompt them to read your emails. In this guide, we’ll share 101 best email subject line examples that your subscribers simply can’t resist.

Why You Need Email Subject Lines That Work

Did you know that 47% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone? At the same time, 68% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line.

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In other words: your subject lines have the power to make or break your email marketing campaigns.

The best way to write email subject lines that get opened (instead of being marked as spam) is by leveraging natural human tendencies and psychological principles.

Here are 101 examples of the best subject lines for email marketing, and the proven principles that make them work…

Fear of Missing Out

One psychological principle that is practically impossible to resist is the fear of missing out. You can use this fear in your subject lines by adding an element of scarcity (limited availability) or urgency (limited time).

In fact, subject lines that include words that imply time sensitivity–like “urgent”, “breaking”, “important” or “alert”–are proven to increase email open rates.

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Here are some great sample subject lines for emails that use the fear of missing out

  1. Warby Parker: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”
  2. JetBlue: “You’re missing out on points.”
  3. Digital Marketer: “[URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to watch this…”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…”
  5. Digital Marketer: “[WEEKEND ONLY] Get this NOW before it’s gone…”
  6. Jersey Mike’s Subs: “Mary, Earn double points today only”
  7. Guess: “Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream”

Curiosity

Humans have a natural desire for closure– we don’t like having gaps in our knowledge. You can leverage this desire for closure by leaving your subject line open-ended so subscribers will be curious, like a cliffhanger that can only be satisfied by opening the email.

You can make subscribers curious by asking a question (and answering it in your email), promising something interesting (like pictures or a surprise gift), or simply saying something that sounds strange or unusual.

Here are some great examples of curiosity inducing subject lines

  1. Manicube: “*Don’t Open This Email*”
  2. Grubhub: “Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About”
  3. Refinery29: “10 bizarre money habits making Millennials richer”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Check out my new “man cave” [PICS]”
  5. Digital Marketer: “Is this the hottest career in marketing?”
  6. Thrillist: “What They Eat In Prison”
  7. Eat This Not That: “9 Disgusting Facts about Thanksgiving”
  8. Chubbies: “Hologram Shorts?!”
  9. The Hustle: “A faster donkey”
  10. Mary Fernandez: “? a surprise gift for you! {unwrap}”

Humor

If your subject line makes your subscribers laugh, then they’ll simply have to open it. After all, have you ever read a subject line that tickled your funny bone and you didn’t read it?

Being humorous requires a bit more thought and creativity, but it can really pay off in terms of your open rates.

Here are some funny email subject lines to make your subscribers laugh…

  1. Eater Boston: “Where to Drink Beer Right Now” (Sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday.)
  2. OpenTable: “Licking your phone never tasted so good”
  3. Groupon: “Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”
  4. The Muse: “We Like Being Used”
  5. Warby Parker: “Pairs nicely with spreadsheets”
  6. UncommonGoods: “As You Wish” (This is a reference to the movie The Princess Bride.)
  7. Travelocity: “Need a day at the beach? Just scratch n’ sniff your way to paradise…”
  8. TicTail: “Boom shakalak! Let’s get started.”
  9. Thrillist: “Try To Avoid These 27 People On New Year’s Eve”
  10. Baby Bump: “Yes, I’m Pregnant. You Can Stop Staring At My Belly Now.”
  11. Gozengo: “NEW! Vacation on Mars”
  12. The Hustle: “Look what you did, you little jerk…” (This one is a hybrid curiosity/humor email. Here’s what it says when you open it.)

Vanity

Everyone has a bit of vanity. We all long to be liked, accepted and even revered by others… it’s just a part of being human.

That’s why some of the most clever subject lines use vanity to get you to open the email. To do this, you can either promise something that makes the subscriber look better to their peers, or invoke the fear of being shamed.

Here are some great examples of clever email subject lines that leverage vanity

  1. Guess: “Don’t wear last year’s styles.”
  2. Fabletics: “Your Butt Will Look Great in These Workout Pants”
  3. Jeremy Gitomer: “How Have You Progressed Since the Third Grade?”
  4. Rapha: “Gift inspiration for the discerning cyclist”
  5. La Mer: “Age-defying beauty tricks”
  6. Pop Physique: “Get Ready. Keep the Pie Off Your Thighs Returns.”
  7. Rapha: “As worn in the World Tour”
  8. Sephora: “Products the celebs are wearing”

Greed

You may not think of yourself as a “greedy” person, but it can be really tough to pass up a great deal… even if you don’t really need the item right now. That’s why sales, discounts and special offers work really well in your subject lines.

However, be careful about offering really huge discounts– the higher the percentage, the less reliable effect it has on your open rates (perhaps because consumers don’t believe large discounts are real).

Regardless, you can usually expect to see an increase in your click rates whenever you offer a discount in your subject line. That’s probably because the people who open these emails are already interested in your offer, so they’re naturally inclined to click.

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Here are some great email subject line ideas for hitting your subscriber’s “greed” button

  1. Topshop: “Meet your new jeans”
  2. Topshop: “Get a head start on summer”
  3. HP: “Flash. Sale. Alert.”
  4. HP: “New must-haves for your office”
  5. Seafolly: “A new product you won’t pass on”
  6. Guess: “25% off your favorites”
  7. Rip Curl: “Two for two”
  8. La Mer: “A little luxury at a great price”
  9. Rapha: “Complimentary gift wrap on all purchases”
  10. The Black Tux: “Get priority access.”

Sloth

Another common trait among all humans is sloth, or the tendency to avoid work. Even people who aren’t inclined to be lazy would prefer a silver bullet over the long and hard route.

You can give subscribers an easier way to achieve their goals by offering a shortcut, or a useful resource that saves a lot of time and energy. (These useful emails are perfect for lead nurturing too!)

Here are some great examples of email subject lines that satisfy sloth

  1. Syed from OptinMonster: “✔ 63-Point Checklist for Creating the Ultimate Optin Form”
  2. Syed from OptinMonster: “Grow your email list 10X ⚡ faster with these 30 content upgrade ideas”
  3. Ramit Sethi: “How to email a busy person (including a word-for-word script)”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Steal these email templates…”
  5. Digital Marketer: “A Native Ad in 60 Minutes or Less”
  6. Digital Marketer: “212 blog post ideas”

Pain Points

If you really understand your buyer persona, you should know their biggest pain points. Use those pain points to get subscribers to open your emails by solving that problem for them.

Here are some examples of email subject lines that bring out the subscriber’s pain points and offer a solution

  1. Pizza Hut: “Feed your guests without breaking the bank”
  2. IKEA: “Where do all these toys go?”
  3. IKEA: “Get more kitchen space with these easy fixes”
  4. HP: “Stop wasting money on ink”
  5. Sephora: “Your beauty issues, solved”
  6. Uber: “Since we can’t all win the lottery…”
  7. Thrillist: “How to Survive Your Next Overnight Flight”
  8. Guess: “Wanted: Cute and affordable fashions”
  9. Evernote: “Stop wasting time on mindless work”
  10. Duolingo: “Learn a language with only 5 minutes per day”

Retargeting

Retargeting emails are sent to subscribers when they fail to complete an action or a step in your sales funnel (e.g. when they abandon their cart, or fail to purchase after their free trial). These emails serve to bring your subscribers back to your sales process.

You can write effective retargeting subject lines by overcoming objections, offering something to sweeten the deal, or alerting them that something bad is going to happen if they don’t take action.

Here are some excellent examples of retargeting email subject lines

  1. Nick Stephenson: “How you can afford Your First 10,000 Readers (closing tonight)”
  2. Bonobos: “Hey, forget something? Here’s 20% off.”
  3. Target: “The price dropped for something in your cart”
  4. Syed from Envira: “Mary, your Envira account is on hold!”
  5. Syed from Envira: “I’m deleting your Envira account”
  6. Ugmonk: “Offering you my personal email”
  7. Animoto: “Did you miss out on some of these new features?”
  8. Pinterest: “Good News: Your Pin’s price dropped!”
  9. Unroll.Me: “⚠ Unroll.Me has stopped working”
  10. Vivino: “We are not gonna Give Up on You!”

Personal

According to a 2015 study by Experian Marketing Services, email subject lines that were personalized by including a name boosted open rates by 29.3% on average across all industries.

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But including your subscribers name is only one way to make your subject lines more personal. You can also use casual language, share something personal, or use copy that implies familiarity or friendship.

(Just be careful not to play too many “tricks” on your subscribers by making them think that you actually are a friend!)

Here are some examples of personal email subject lines that get attention

  1. Guess: “Mary, check out these hand-picked looks”
  2. Rent the Runway: “Happy Birthday Mary – Surprise Inside!”
  3. Bonnie Fahy: “Mary, do you remember me?”
  4. Kimra Luna: “I didn’t see your name in the comments!?”
  5. John Lee Dumas: “Are you coming?”
  6. UrbanDaddy: “You’ve Changed”
  7. Influitive: “So I’ll pick you up at 7?”
  8. James Malinchak: “Crazy Invitation, I am Going to Buy You Lunch…”
  9. Brooklinen: “Vanilla or Chocolate?”
  10. Sam from The Hustle: “I love you”
  11. Ryan Levesque: “Seriously, Who DOES This?”
  12. Jon Morrow: “Quick favor?”
  13. Mary Fernandez: “you free this Thurs at 12PM PST? [guest blogging class]”
  14. Mary Fernandez: “? your detailed results…”
  15. Syed from OptinMonster: “300% increase in revenue with a single optin + a neat growth trick from my mastermind!”
  16. Revolution Tea: “Thanks for helping us”
  17. Harry’s: “Two razors for your friends (on us)”

Straightforward

When in doubt, make your subject line simple and straightforward. Contrary to what you might think, these “boring” subject lines can actually convert really well.

The key to making this work for your list is to consistently provide value in all of your emails. Don’t ever send an email unless you have something important to say: always make sure your campaigns are packed with value. If you do this, you’ll train your subscribers to open your emails no matter what the subject line says.

Here are some examples of email subject lines that get straight to the point

  1. Al Franken: “Yes, this is a fundraising email”
  2. AYR: “Best coat ever”
  3. Barack Obama: “Hey”

…and these “boring” subject lines performed the highest out of 40 million emails, with open rates between 60-87%…

  1. “[Company Name] Sales & Marketing Newsletter”
  2. “Eye on the [Company Name] Update (Oct 31 – Nov 4)”
  3. “[Company Name] Staff Shirts & Photos”
  4. “[Company Name] May 2005 News Bulletin!”
  5. “[Company Name] Newsletter – February 2006”
  6. “[Company Name] and [Company Name] Invites You!”
  7. “Happy Holidays from [Company Name]”
  8. “Invitation from [Company Name]”

Some Final Tips

Before choosing a subject line at random, keep these tips in mind for the highest possible open rates.

Most People Open Emails on Mobile

Regardless of which of the above techniques you decide to use, make sure your subject line is optimized for mobile users.

According to the US Consumer Device Preference Report from MovableInk, 66% of all email in the U.S. is opened on smartphones or tablets.

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You can use a free tool like Zurb’s TestSubject to see how your subject line will appear on a variety of popular mobile devices.

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Originality is Key

Also, keep in mind that being original is the key to sustainable success with your email subject lines.

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The thing is, subscribers get bored easily. If you want to engage your first-time openers and long-term inactive subscribers, you don’t want them to read your subject line and think, “There’s that weekly newsletter again that I always ignore.” You’ll need to keep mixing things up over the long haul.

Try Out Emojis

According to a report by Experian, using emojis in your subject lines can increase your open rates by 45%.

Well, we’ve been testing this out at OptinMonster as well, and we can confirm that the email subject lines with emojis do beat out the plain text ones!

Here are the top 15 emojis by subject line appearances.

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These aren’t necessarily the “best” ones to use– they’re just the most popular. You can get creative with different emojis and different emoji combinations for your own email subject lines.

That’s it!

We hope you found these 101 best email subject lines to be helpful in creating your next subject line.