8 subject lines we fell in love with 

February 8, 2016 McKenzie Gregory


Valentine’s Day is all about putting in a little extra effort for the ones we love. For some people, that means picking up flowers and chocolate (or, if we’re being honest here, a six pack and pizza) for that special someone – but for email marketers, it means showing your subscribers a little appreciation.

Sure, you want them to buy into whatever “sweetheart deal” your brand is offering for the holiday, but it’s also important to send them an especially spectacular email; after all, isn’t that the spirit of the season? So we thought we’d take a moment to call out some brands that surprised and delighted us this Valentine’s Day with one of our favorite parts of an email: the subject line.

Happy (early) Valentine’s Day, and enjoy!



1. Birchbox

Subject line: “Box of Chocolates: Out. Box of Beauty: In!"
Preheader text: “Give Her The Gift Of A Birchbox Subscription – It Keeps Giving Month After Month"

We loved this one because while it’s obviously a reference to the most romantic day of the year, BirchBox never actually uses the words “Valentine’s Day” in the copy. When nestled among a sea of Valentine’s Day deals, it’s an effective way to stand out against a group of competitors all advertising essentially the same thing.

Plus, the preheader text helps demonstrate the value of their offer – why settle for a gift that lasts a single day when you can spring for a year’s worth of goodies?




2. Under Armour

Subject line: “What Every Guy Wants: The Valentine’s Day Boxerjock"
Preheader text: “The Best Underwear He’ll Ever Put On – Shop Now”

Heaven knows we see enough lingerie-related emails leading up to Valentine's Day, but this one was a funny take on the more traditional, female-oriented offer. By aiming their promotion at men rather than women, Under Armour targets a niche that isn’t marketed to as much this time of year and sets themselves up to reach a much broader audience.




3. Kendra Scott

Subject line: “Gift sets worthy of an XO…"
Preheader text: “…and an exclusive price to match! Plus free ground shipping!”

This subject line and preheader combo is laden with value. An email subject line that creates a sense of exclusivity can lead to a 22% increase in open rates, and the absence of free shipping is the #1 reason people choose to not complete a purchase online (MarketingLand, ComScore). Well played, Kendra.





Subject line: “5 last chances for V-Day romance”
Preheader text: “Book your last-minute Valentine getaway now!”

People are much more inclined to act if they feel a sense of urgency – so by including words like “last chances,” “last-minute,” and “now” in their subject line and preheader text, VBRO effectively compels subscribers to act as quickly as possible for fear of missing out.




5. Nordstrom Rack

Subject line: “Valentine’s gifts he’ll (heart emoji)”
Preheader text: “Plus lingerie you’ll both love, up to 50% off”

Using an emoji in a Valentine’s Day subject line seems like a no-brainer, so we were surprised to see that not many brands went that route this year. Maybe they thought inboxes would be saturated with pink and red hearts, but for us, that wasn’t the case – so it really helped this promo from Nordstrom Rack stand out against the masses of retailers they were competing against.

It just proves that split-testing your subject lines is always a good idea; perform a subject line split test, and you’ll be able to quickly see what performs best with your audience at any given moment. 




6. thredUP

Subject line: “The perfect V-Day outfit (for you)”
Preheader text: “XO, thredUP”

There were a lot of emails this year that promoted a “treat yourself” message, but we especially liked this one from thredUp. Deceptively simple, the choice to put “for you" in parentheses allows it to stand out more because our visual cortex is hardwired to notice things that are isolated from the rest of the text – think parentheses, brackets, and em dashes.




7. Fitbit

Subject line: “Find a gift that fits for Valentine’s Day"
Preheader text: “Treat your loved one to steps and reps”

Everything about this email was stuffed-to-the-brim with puns (which, let’s face it, we’re pretty much always into). But FitBit’s copy writers did an especially killer job with the subject line and preheader text. It was a great way for the brand to participate in the holiday without losing their identity and voice in the process – it still sounds, looks, and feels like FitBit, even if it’s a special holiday offer.




8. Huckberry

Subject line: "Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow"
Preheader text: "Stay out of the doghouse with these expertly curated V-Day gift picks"

Pithy and to-the-point, this subject line draws you in while the preheader text closes the deal. For Huckberry, it’s a great message that’s the perfect choice for their mostly-male audience – plus, isn't fear one of the best motivators when it comes to romance? (Just kidding... mostly.)




About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

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.

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