When you pull up your inbox, the first thing you likely notice is a sea of subject lines compelling you to ignore, delete, or open each email.
So what is it about those lucky few that makes them pass the test and convinces you to hit “open"? Sender name plays a part, of course – you’re much more likely to open an email from a person or brand you actually recognize – but the subject line also has a huge impact. After all, it's one of your very first impressions of the email, and from it, you do your best to judge the content on the inside.
These brands are all experts when it comes to drafting up eye-catching, click-worthy subject lines. Use their examples for inspiration, and you’ll get your own PhD in Subject Lineology in no time!
Note: We understand that subject lines like these won't work for some brands, particularly in the B2B space. You know your audience best, so use those insights to craft your own attention-grabbing subject lines!
The shock factor
Modcloth – “Contains graphic material.”
Now that’s a subject line that makes you stop and pay attention! Emails with subject lines that leave you guessing practically beg to be opened. Short, to-the-point, and extra cheeky, this promo for graphic tees definitely stands out in a crowded inbox.
Bootprints – “3 great places for axe murders”
Bootprints usually has pretty wild subject lines, but this one was easily our favorite. The best part? After hooking us in with such an absurd subject line, they did absolutely nothing to reference it within the body of the email itself. We were such big fans of the unique tactic that this email got shared around the Emma office for weeks. It definitely had us laughing (and clicking)!
The timely reference
COOLS – “BYE FELICIA, HI 2016.”
Email marketers are often told that using ALL CAPS in a subject line is a cardinal sin that can land you in the spam folder, but some rules are meant to be broken – sparingly, of course, and in the right context!
This in-your-face pop culture reference from COOLS fit their brand swimmingly, so they used it in their subject line without apology. You know your brand better than anyone, so if something feels right, don’t let anyone (even us!) sway you from giving it a shot.
Rue La La – “Will you accept this rose? Sorry, *sale?"
Ahh, The Bachelor. It’s been all over our news feeds recently, and Rue La La took advantage of a timely reference to the hit show in one of their recent subject lines. It was clever, on-point, and absolutely perfect for their young, primarily female audience.
Death to The Stock Photo – “We’re sorry, so we got you flowers”
Here’s what went down: Death to The Stock Photo sent out a message the previous day about a special offer but had failed to specify that it was only valid for U.S. customers. So they apologized by offering their email subscribers a special floral photo pack, promised to segment more thoroughly, and offered each individual the chance to further specify their preferences. It was a super smart strategy aided by a clever subject line that drew people in.
Uber – “You’ve accepted an offer”
This subject line is tricky as can be – I’ve actually accepted nothing, and really this email is promoting a $20 Uber credit when you go to see a movie at Regal Cinemas. But now that you mention it, Uber, maybe I should go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the fourth time…
Finding new and creative ways to frame your promotions is much more effective than sending email after email with subject lines like “30% Off!” or “Limited Time Offer!" And by changing it up, you’ll be able to get your recipients to do the most important thing (open your email), which gives you much more opportunity to sell them on whatever it is you’re promoting.
The straight-up value proposition
LOFT – “$1000 for your thoughts..."
Don’t mind if I do! If you have something compelling to offer, it’s a great idea to let your subscribers know what they're going to get in the email before they even open it. And the value here is clear: Perform this relatively simple task (writing a review of a product you purchased) and you’ll have a chance at $1000.
Plus, people love to make their voices heard – the average response rate for email surveys is 24.8% (FluidSurveys) – so asking for customer feedback is a method that’s sure to get great results.
About the Author
McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.Follow on Twitter More Content by McKenzie Gregory