10 Tips to Write the Best Email Subject Lines (with Examples)

Businesses use email marketing for different reasons – to promote a piece of content, engage their audience during a contest or giveaway, or follow up with them at the end of the campaign.

The whole point of doing this is to get people to take action. To make that happen, you need to first grab their attention through catchy email subject lines.

Aside from your preheader text, your subject line is the first thing that recipients see in their inboxes. That’s why it’s so important to make a great first impression. Below, you’ll find tips to write the best email subject lines that will increase your results.

What Is The Subject Line In An Email?

The subject line of an email is the text that appears beside the sender’s name in a recipient’s inbox.

In the screenshot above, you can see the email subject line that reads, “Booze, You Lose.” It’s short, creative, and catchy.

Why Is An Email Subject Line Important?

Your email subject line competes with many other subject lines in your audience’s inboxes. That one line of text can convince them to click and open your message or do the opposite – ignore it or mistake it for spam. Based on the stats, 69% of people will report an email as spam based on the subject line alone.

When done right, email subject lines positively impact your readers and most importantly your marketing campaigns. They boost your open rates, engagement levels, conversions, and ultimately your bottom line.

So, it pays to spend a little more time jazzing up your email subject lines.

10 Tips To Write The Best Email Subject Lines

Learn how to write a great subject line for email using any of the techniques below.

1. Keep it short and sweet.

A good rule of thumb is to limit your subject lines to 40 characters or less. This is to prevent them from getting truncated, especially that most people are on their mobile devices.

Don’t just optimize the subject line length. Get clear on your purpose or topic. This is especially useful if you’re targeting a busy audience.

Are you emailing them to invite them to your webinar? Remind them about their order? Watch your video? State that right away in the subject line.

2. Use controversy to grab attention.

Shocking subject lines make people stop and take a second look. After all, we’re naturally drawn towards controversy. Here’s an example of a controversial email subject line:

Here are a few more:

  • “Why Your Content Writing Sucks”
  • “Don’t Do This Or You’ll Burn Your Business”
  • “There’s Literally Nothing More To Lose, [Recipient’s name]”

If you’re going to use controversy, make sure that you do it carefully. Know your audience so you don’t write something that comes off as offensive. Another thing: Avoid subject lines that do not match your email copy. Keep it relevant.

3. Tell them exactly what you want them to do.

Sometimes, the best way to communicate is to give a direct command. Use a clear and brief call-to-action. Check out these examples:

  • “Confirm Your Subscription”
  • “Treat Yourself To Our Latest Bestseller”
  • “See Your Workout Progress!”
  • “Join Us This Sunday As We Celebrate [Occasion]”

This is a simple strategy for boosting your conversion rates especially if you want quick responses.

4. Feature an incentive.

Research shows that incentives overcome barriers to communication with consumers. Incentives influence their choice of a product or service.

Whether you’re looking to get customers to leave a product review or keep sharing your giveaway campaign, hint at offering something enticing. Bonuses, discounts, free merchandise, and early access to your latest product are all effective incentives.

This email’s subject line says that you can get free items. By reading the message, you’ll learn how you can earn that – by spending a minimum amount on other products.

Pro Tip: Make your subject line stand out by including one or two emojis. But don’t just throw in emojis for the sake of having them. Keep them relevant to the topic and tone of the email! We also suggest A/B testing subject lines with or without emojis and their position (front vs end vs both).

5. Incorporate numbers.

Adding digits can boost the credibility and persuasiveness of your copy. Your audience might be looking for facts to believe a brand. This is why numbers work when writing the best email subject lines.

This strategy is best used for email types such as content announcement emails and transactional emails.

The subject line in the example above starts with a number which indicates that the sender is sharing a list of tips. In the same vein, add numbers when sharing your latest listicle post.

Here’s another example from Yoast:

6. Communicate scarcity or urgency.

Scarcity is when you take advantage of your audience’s fear of missing out on something. In this case, you’re going to make it appear like your offer is in limited supply. With urgency, you push your audience to act quickly to beat a deadline.

Both techniques are often used together to drive action fast. Here’s what that looks like in an email subject line:

Marketing words like limited time, act now, last chance, now or never, almost gone, and running out can help speed up the sales process.

Implement this whether you’re holding a sale at the end of your giveaway or motivating people to share the campaign a few days before the winner announcement day.

7. Ask them a question.

Pique their curiosity by asking a question. Tease just a little so they’ll feel compelled to click open your email to learn more. Check out these examples:

  • “We’ve Survived This Pandemic. Now What?”
  • “Are You Making This Workout Mistake?”
  • “What’s Scarier Than Locked-In Syndrome?”

When writing question-type subject lines, you’ll want to apply Betteridge’s law. If your question can immediately be answered by a “no”, then it’s best to avoid it. This reduces the likelihood of your emails getting ignored since they already know the answer.

Another useful tip: Don’t ask obvious questions. These are questions that most people already have the answer to or can easily “Google”. For example, “What Are The Benefits Of Exercise?” or “How Old Is The Earth?”

8. Use personalization techniques.

Personalization in email marketing entails including information that’s highly relevant to the recipient. That tells us one thing: Audience data is so important.

Using their data, you can personalize your subject lines in various ways:

  • Add your recipient’s first name. For example, “Anna, Shop From Home Today.”
  • Mention their interests.
  • Offer a product based on their transaction history.
  • Use localization. You must know where they’re from.
  • Remember their birthday or anniversary.

According to the stats, personalization is the #1 tactic that email marketers use to boost their engagement rates.

Here’s an example showing Magnolia remembering their recipient’s birthday.

9. Persuade using social proof.

Do you have testimonials, awards/recognition, an endorsement from a celebrity, or a partnership? Whatever accomplishment you have in your business, add that to your subject line.

Here’s one of the personal email subject lines examples sent by Sam Ovens. He shows his recipients how powerful his consulting online course is by mentioning the 7-figure result of his client Brittany.

10. Bonus: Use keywords for filtering messages.

A lot of people don’t open emails right away – even those coming from brands they expect to hear from. Instead, they save them for later. This is where including relevant keywords helps for better searchability.

When writing your subject line, try to consider the terms and phrases that your recipient would use while searching for your topic on Google.

Final Thoughts

We’ve discussed the importance of subject line in email. We hope this article inspires you to create the best email subject lines starting today.

But don’t just stop at the subject line. Make sure that your message itself is focused, compelling, and provides value. Do that and your email will successfully accomplish your purpose.