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Creative Email Subject Line Examples from Top Brands

The importance of email subject lines in digital marketing can hardly be exaggerated, as they represent the first and foremost impression of the offer to follow in the text body.

They are also the key factor for the recipient to determine whether to open the email or simply delete it/flag it as spam.

Too many stellar offers are being disregarded on account of poorly written subject lines or those that don’t announce the offer that follows it in a proper way.

An important aspect to remember here is that if the message isn’t opened, it will be flagged as spam, as the recipient won’t get to the unsubscribe button.

Writing Stellar Email Subject Lines

As is the case with all things marketing, there are no general rules applicable to all businesses when it comes to brainstorming subject lines. This is not only because every firm should have its own style, but also because, ultimately, it should be the very business that decides how to go about their respective marketing campaigns.

However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t any tips.

The key to a successful marketing campaign (that begins with good subject lines) lies in understanding the target audience.

It goes without saying that millenials won’t be attracted by the same tone of voice as senior business executives.

If your business serves both target groups, it is best to come up with two different approaches – one for each.

All good subject lines have two things in common: they announce a much needed offer and a way to solve the current problem of the customers. If they offer to solve both issues immediately, then they are truly perfect.

The following examples of email subject line done right illustrate the difference in approaches:

  • “What They Eat In Prison” (Thrillist)
  • “Don’t Open This Email” (Manicube)
  • “Where to Drink Beer Right Now” (Sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday)” (Eater Boston’s)
  • “Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream” (Guess)
  • “Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…” (Digital Marketer)
  • “A faster donkey” (The Hustle)
  • “Deals that Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew Steve)” (Groupon)

As you can see, all of these email subject line examples either announce a time-limited offer or intrigue the customer through creativity.

Email Subject Line Examples That Work

Mysterious and Irresistible Subject Lines

An air of mystery in a subject line will make the recipient curious. Note that the subject line still has to announce a desirable offer to make it high-performing.

Curiosity is a powerful emotion, often being triggered by marketing strategies done right. It’s the same as with a good book or a memorable commercial.

Years after seeing/reading them, people will remember the surprise moment they didn’t see coming.

Therefore, effective subject lines serve to announce an unexpected but much needed offer. A good example is seen in a “Eat This Not That” campaign, announcing: “9 Disgusting Facts about Thanksgiving.”

Going by the same rule, subject lines will appear more tempting if they include certain words, according to Adestra and Smart Insights. Without expanding too much on the sense and psychology behind them, here they are:

“thank you,” “breaking,” “introducing,” “thanks,” “back in stock,” “golden,” “bulletin,” “order today,” “orders over,” “offer selected,” “iPhone,” “available,” “latest,” “special,” “great deals,” “sale starts and “brand new.”

According to the same source, the best performing subject line includes the following keywords: “news,” “new,” “alert,” “free delivery” and “available.”

Finally, analyzing 21 billion emails sent by 2,500 brands, Alchemy Worx has found out that the five best performing keywords are “upgrade,” “content,” “wonderful,” “just” and “go.” Their close competitors include “congratulations,” “promotional,” “voluntary,” “deduction” and “snapshot.”

What does that tell us about the recipients?

Personalized Email Subject Lines

Lots of things, we’d say, but some are more important than others in terms of enhancing email marketing campaigns. Obviously, special offers are universally welcome; coupling them with a matching offer written in a clear way and a call to action is the best approach to nailing email marketing.

Make sure to address your customers by their first names, where applicable. Your subscribers will provide that info. For new customers, by all means, avoid generalization (such as “hey you!”).

To enhance the mood (especial festive mood, omnipresent prior to and during popular holidays), you may choose to use emojis. Use them scarcely, though; they should serve to boost the sentiment, not to replace the message.

A study by Experian has shown that the use of the right emojis boosts open rates by 45%.

“The right” emojis vary depending on the age group, country, and the message being sent. As a general rule, emojis from the same category may be coupled together, but in moderation. I.e., a couple of animals or dishes will appear more attractive than a cup of coffee followed by an elephant.

How come? The latter doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

E.g., here are some popular emojis sorted by the country:

Creative email subject line examples from top brands

Creative Subject Lines

As you can see, the most popular emojis reflect positive emotions. Those reflective negative emotions may also be effective if they apply to people’s curiosity or serve the purpose of an efficient message. The popularity of emojis reflecting emotions vary, with the top-rated ones reflecting:

  • Joy (31%)
  • Disgust (21%)
  • Sadness (16%)
  • Fear (15%)
  • Surprise (10%)
  • Anger (7%)

Some large businesses appealing to senior and “more serious” audience shun emojis for fear of not appearing serious. Just imagine Bentley Motors announcing their latest model with a pig emoji. Not good!

As Will Walker, Marketing Manager at Marsden Marketing puts it: “emojis are a tremendous tool to stand out or add personality, but they don’t necessarily resonate across segments and buyers”.

Bottom line, email subject lines should be clear, tempting, and announce the offer, emojis or no.

Key Takeaways

Everything considered, it is safe to conclude that the finest of the subject lines adhere to the following principles:

  • They are concise
  • they appeal to people’s curiosity
  • they get the emotion across
  • They are followed by a matching offer

Sticking to these guidelines is certain to make your email marketing campaigns stand out, so give them a go and remember – knowing your audience is the key to success. Apply finishing touches that appeal to the recipients and – et voilà! Your offer is good to go!

Creative email subject line examples from top brands
Email Subject Lines Examples
Email Subject Lines Examples
Mysson Victor
Mysson Victor
As an SEO freelance writer for hire, Mysson creates compelling content in online business, SaaS, and Digital Marketing niches for clients just like you. Hire Mysson for powerful business storytelling, crispy copy for service business or insightful articles that spark online conversations, attract links and boost conversions. Connect on LinkedIn @Mysson

Guestposting on PennyMatters has since been discontinued. Do not contact us on the same. For sponsored posts, see here

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