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Raise your hand if you hit “select all” in your email inbox to delete emails? I know I’m definitely guilty of it. But every now and then, I’ll be scrolling through my inbox clicking on a bunch of emails to send to the trash, and get interrupted by a catchy email subject line that makes me just have to open up the email. 

Reasons for opening an email varies, from FOMO (fear of missing out) on missing an exclusive sale to opening the email because the subject line was catchy or funny, or simply opening an email out of curiosity. It’s in the best interest of any marketer to put themselves in the shoes of their target audience and ask “what makes someone want to take that extra step and actually open an email?” 

The expression, “you only get one chance to make a first impression,” doesn’t only apply to looks or presentation, it applies to email marketing as well. It’s actually extremely important! Here’s why: according to optinmonster, 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone, BUT 69% of email recipients report email as spam based on the subject line. So in other words, write good email subject lines, they’ll make or break your email marketing campaigns. 

It’s also a good idea to break down subject lines into different categories or components so that you can use the best subject line that fits the email topic. You don’t want a subject line to say “Important Weather Advisory” if your email is about a sale on laptops.

Below is a breakdown of 6 subject line categories and examples so that your subscribers can go from throwing your emails into the trash (or completely just spamming them), to opening them up and reading all the awesome content your email has to offer! 


Have you ever had FOMO? It’s one of the most powerful digital marketing strategies around because no one wants to be left out – it’s human nature. Using fear in your subject lines by adding limited availability or time will opt recipients to click on those emails like the world depends on it. 

Here are some examples: 

  1. “FINAL HOURS. 20% off is going bye-bye” 
  2. “Last chance for 50% off!”
  3. “Pssst…Our sale is Ending SOON!” 
  4. “Oh no, your prescription is expiring” 
  5. “John, Earn double points today only” 


Curiosity subject lines pique the interest of recipients without giving away too much information. It’s like a movie preview, where you want to get the audience interested enough to watch the movie when it comes out, but the climax and actual good parts of the movie are hidden. It’s the same thing with curiosity email subject lines. But be careful, don’t over-use these subject lines, because they can get old fast and get thrown back into the trash. 

Here are some examples: 

  1. “Is this the hottest career in marketing?” 
  2. “Who uses Facebook more? Millennials or Generation X?”
  3. “Question about [insert subject/goal]?” 
  4. “How to get 12 hours out of an 8 hour day”
  5. “New & Notable Books” 


Personalized subject lines can grab the attention of subscribers by using a name or using casual language, sharing something personal, or using copy that implies familiarity or a friendship. These email subject lines are used most frequently as they are direct and speak to a specific benefit that the recipient will gain by actually opening the email. What can I say, everyone’s a little selfish. *shrug*

Here are some examples: 

  1. “Rough day?”
  2. “Hannah, check out these personalized looks created just for you” 
  3. “Thanks for helping us” 
  4. “Our next steps”
  5. “You free this Wednesday at 1PM CST? [new marketing webinar]” 


Having a funny bone (or a few) in your body is usually at the top of the list when it comes to dating and finding a significant other. So why not apply it to your email subject lines? Being funny requires a bit more thought and creativity (and feedback from others, because dad jokes aren’t always funny), but they can really pay off if you do them correctly. 

Here are some examples: 

  1. “Need a day at the beach? Just scratch n’ sniff your way to paradise…”
  2. “Where to Drink Beer Right Now” (this was sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday by Eater Boston) 
  3. “We’re bringing sets-y back” 
  4. “Is it too late now to say sorry?”
  5. “How to organize your VHS collection” 


These types of email subject lines are pretty straightforward since you’re keeping your subscribers updated with the latest news in your field. These subject lines work well when combined with a curiosity component. 

Here are some examples: 

  1. “Marketing Announcement: Enrollment is back open!”
  2. “NEW: How to start a business if you don’t know how”
  3. “Important Weather Advisory” 
  4. “Event Update:…”
  5. “Just in: 30% off your favorite styles” 


Retargeting emails are sent to recipients when they fail to complete an action on your website. For example, when someone leaves a product in their cart, but doesn’t make a purchase. In the professional world, you usually follow-up with an email as a courtesy like after a job interview or a meeting. Giving you audience a little nudge in the right direction is totally okay. Just don’t be annoying and send 40 retargeting emails – you’ll most likely get sent to spam. 

Here are some examples: 

  1. “Your place in line is going, going…”
  2. “Still thinking it over? Maybe this will help…” 
  3. “You left your stuff at our place…” (this can also go along with a funny component to the subject line) 
  4. “Did you miss out on some of these new features?” 
  5. “Trust your instincts” 


Here you have it, 6 important components of email subject lines and some examples. What’s next? Go scroll through your email and categorize the subject lines using the 6 categories we just gave you, and see for yourself what other people and companies are doing. #creeping

Writing a good email subject line can be easy when looking at other examples. But, you need to figure out what works best for you. You can use A/B testing or just look at your email campaign analytics to check the open-rates of various emails. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution in the marketing world (or for anything for that matter), so the sooner you can come to terms with that, the sooner you’ll be writing amazing email subject lines. Now go turn your subject lines from 0 to 100, real-quick! *wink, wink*