100 Great Subject Lines for Your Emails


Let’s talk about pick-up lines for a minute.

Nope. We’re not talking about those lines people use in a desperate attempt to get a date.

Every time your company sends an email to a subscriber, you should be using great subject lines (sort of like pick up lines) to get the attention of a person you never personally met.

Think about that for a moment. You need to tread carefully.

Some pick-up lines stand out because they’re clever, genuine or simply straight to the point. The worst of the lot can be really bad. Or dull. Maybe even creepy.

You know what we mean.

When it comes to subject lines and messages, the rule of thumb is to keep it short and to the point.

You can be clever, but shorter is better.

Here’s why:

That was among the findings of a recent analysis by Retention Science.

The marketing analytics firm studied more than 260 million emails from 540 retail marketing campaigns.

It appears that 6 to 10 words are just about right for your subject lines. The emails that fell into that category averaged a 21 percent open rate.

That rate dropped to as low as 14 percent, on average, for emails with subject lines of 11 to 15 words. The open rates fell to below 10 percent for subject lines longer than 15 words.

Not surprisingly, you also risk less than stellar results if you opt for very short subject lines—5 words or fewer.

Apparently, you’re not able to get the message across.

Emails with very short subject lines fared only slight better than long subject lines … garnering a 16 percent open rate.

So, how do you strike a balance with your subject lines? Here are a few tips for keeping your subject lines concise but interesting.

  1. Make it personal. If you can, why not address each email recipient by his or her name? According to Retention Science, it can be an effective way of catching someone’s attention … and her desire to open your email message. The firm’s study shows that email open rates are 18.3 percent with a person’s name in the subject line, compared to 15.7 percent without it.
  2. Edit, edit, edit. Go ahead and write your subject line, even if it’s 15 to 16 words when you’re done. Start looking at words that can be cut without changing the meaning of what you’re trying to say. And? Then go ahead and cut them.
  3. Read it on mobile. Test out your messages yourself on mobile, which is increasingly becoming the primary way people read email. Is your subject line easy to quickly read? Does it get the point of what you’re trying to say? Put yourself in the mind of the recipient. Ask yourself, “Why should anyone care enough to open this?” Remember, everyone is busy and you have plenty of other businesses competing for your audience’s attention If you can’t come up with a compelling reason your emails, it’s time to come up with something different. You also should have co-workers or people outside the company evaluate your emails.
  4. Point out the value up front. Are you offering a discount? A helpful study? Simply point out what’s in store for the email recipient. State it plainly in your subject line. There’s no need to write it out in ALL CAPS or make sensational claims.
  5. Use popular culture. Show off your fun side … and that you’re in tune with the latest in entertainment. Email open rates that had mentions of popular movies and song lyrics had an open rate of 26.2 percent compared to 15.8 percent of emails without those mentions, according to Retention Science.

To inspire you to come up with some creative pick-up lines/subject lines for your email marketing automation campaigns in 2017, we rounded up a collection of 100 that can help you effectively break the ice with your subscribers — and boost sales and donations.

Great subject lines for cart abandonment strategy

If you’re in the business of selling anything online, especially in the B2C industry, a solid cart abandonment strategy is a must.

Take a look at these numbers if you’re not convinced. Cart abandonment rates are running at about 70%. That’s a significant number of shoppers visiting your site who aren’t completing the transaction.

But, guess what? By developing a commerce email marketing strategy, you can recover about 3% to 11% of those sales. Not shabby.

Select the right marketing automation software for a seamless process, including drip marketing, and then try out these great subject lines for size.

  1. Hey! Where did you go?
  2. Still deciding?
  3. We get it. Good decisions take time
  4. Thanks for checking us out
  5. Did you know we offer free shipping?
  6. Did you forget about me?
  7. Not quite sure?
  8. Don’t, don’t, don’t you forget about me …
  9. It’s still in the bag … er, cart
  10. Nice of you to stop by
  11. Thinking about it?
  12. Have any questions?
  13. Shopping around?
  14. Hate to see you leave without me
  15. Waiting patiently for you
  16. We’d be better together
  17. We dare you to take another look
  18. Let’s try that again
  19. No pressure, but this sale ends in 24 hours
  20. You might like these too

TIP: By the way, shorter is better. And we’re not just talking about words. Now it’s about characters.

Previous research noted that subscribers are more likely to open emails that have subject lines with fewer than 10 words. Now that users are opening emails on smartphones at a higher rate, the focus is on characters. According to research, subject lines with 28 to 39 characters performed best.

Great subject lines when showing appreciation

Don’t you dare let a customer get away without showing some enthusiasm after they complete a sale.

Surely you want them to remember you. Repeat business is the foundation of a successful business. Let your customers know how much their purchases mean to you and your team.

It doesn’t matter how small a purchase, it’s a pretty big deal for an individual to choose you. Try something along these lines:

  1. Aww, thanks!
  2. Thanks so much for your order
  3. You have amazing taste!
  4. Nice. Glad to have you as a customer
  5. Great choice!
  6. Enjoy your purchase
  7. So glad to have a customer like you
  8. We totally appreciate you as a customer
  9. It makes us happy that you chose us
  10. You picked us. Cool
  11. This could be the start of something awesome
  12. Fabulous choice!
  13. Did your purchase live up to your expectations?
  14. Like it? Love it? Hate it? We want to know
  15. Thanks! So glad you found us
  16. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
  17. (Name), thanks!
  18. Awesome. Glad you found something you like!
  19. Sweet! Thanks for being our customer
  20. Thanks! (sometimes it really is that simple)

TIP: Use marketing automation software to personalize messages with dynamic content. Use names, whenever possible. “Jane, thanks!” is more meaningful than “Thanks!”

Great subject lines for B2B folks

If you’re not using segmentation to tailor your messages to your clients, you’re running the risk of low open rates.

Segmentation allows you to better identify your subscribers’ interests and, as a result, create subject lines and messages that appeal to them. This is especially important in the B2B industry because subscribers are looking for specific answers to their specific problems.

Talk to your marketing software vendor for tips on how you can use incentives, such as gated white papers and webinars, to gain more clarity about your subscribers’ interests.

By all means, customize those subject lines and messages. But take a look at these to inspire your creativity. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to be formal when sending business messages.

  1. This email could change everything
  2. Here’s something different to consider
  3. 3 strategies worth your time
  4. We get it.  We want you to get it too
  5. See how we help clients boost ROI
  6. Why outsourcing xxx could be a better choice
  7. Free webinar on xxx
  8. How to gain more sales in 2017
  9. Smart ways to leverage xxx
  10. 24% off for next 24 hours
  11. Sign up for your free trial today
  12. 5 strategies that will get you better ROI
  13. How does your xxx rate?
  14. Join us for another webinar on xxx.
  15. Did you catch that? (Reference a stat in the webinar)
  16. Check out our client success stories
  17. Why customer service still matters
  18. This is what our clients are saying about us
  19. Check out what’s next in 2017
  20. 3 ways to accelerate business results

Tip: Not all subscribers are alike, of course. Depending upon your industry, you may want to try a more direct approach. Or more clever. The key is A/B testing.

Test one subject line against another at the same time. You also can test different times of day to see which delivery time is more effective. A/B testing is always worth the time and effort to compare open rates.

Great subject lines for B2B sales

You have your work cut out for you, but you already know this. More than likely, the frequency of your face-to-face meetings is shrinking.

Perhaps fewer people are picking up the phone when you call. Email marketing, when done right, could be your most effective method of connecting with your prospects. When someone downloads an ebook or attends a webinar, follow up quickly.

Try out a few variations of these subject lines to get some well-deserved attention. Again, segmentation is your best, best friend.

  1. Noticed your interest in xxx
  2. Do you have any questions about xxx?
  3. Let me show how this works for our clients
  4. Let’s talk about xxx
  5. Just tried calling. Is email better?
  6. Can we talk for about 5 minutes?
  7. Are you the right person for xxx?
  8. I can help you impress your boss
  9. I promise to keep this short
  10. A quick favor, please …
  11. Give me 43 seconds of your time
  12. We genuinely want you to gain the benefits of xxx
  13. Read this email in 173 seconds or less. We timed it
  14. Share this with your boss …
  15. Can we talk by Friday?
  16. This email could be worth $3 or $300,000 (coffee and ROI)
  17. Don’t keep this to yourself
  18. Let’s talk over coffee
  19. Did you get my previous email?
  20. Let me know if you’re still interested

Tip: When trying to connect with a person who can make a decision, you may need to go through several other employees.

Along with short subject lines, make sure the messages are short, genuine and to the point. Mix it up with phone calls. After a call, immediately follow up with an email.

Great subject lines for nonprofit donors

As a marketer or fundraiser for a nonprofit organization, you have the enviable position of sending emails about a great cause.

Don’t miss the opportunity to share how donations are actually making a difference. Get into the habit of being a great storyteller.

Your updates should clearly detail an example of how funds helped an individual person or family, an animal or a community. Of course, you should immediately thank donors after they make a contribution.

Use these subject lines for more inspiration:

  1. Take a look at how your donation is making a difference.
  2. You really are changing the world.
  3. This is why every donation counts.
  4. Meet xxx. Her story will move you.
  5. We need you to change the world
  6. Thanks for sharing your super powers
  7. You’re a hero to xxx
  8. Here are our everyday heroes
  9. Here’s what $5 can do
  10. Change a life, change a community
  11. All it takes is one person
  12. Change is good
  13. We’d love to see you at xxx
  14. We’d love for you to come over for a quick tour
  15. Where do your donations go?
  16. We’d love to see you at our annual xxx
  17. Here’s a volunteer opportunity that may interest you
  18. We missed you at our last event!
  19. 10 volunteers needed: Care to join the fun?
  20. A story so great you’ll want to share it

Tip: Hire a freelance writer to produce a compelling story about what your nonprofit is doing. Avoid a broad overview.

Pick out one story about an individual or accomplishment to paint a picture of how donations help.

A solid email marketing strategy built through automation and segmentation is your ticket to better sales and donations in 2017. Just don’t forget to keep those subject lines creative. They’re among the keys to open rates that will help you reach your goals.

Let us know which ones work best for you! And if you need help, we’re here. Just ask!


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