38 Email Subject Lines to Inspire You (Tips + Tricks)


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Learn the strategies to create compelling email subject lines that improve your open rates. The Ascent covers eight types of email subject lines with plenty of examples.

Based on OptinMonster’s data, 47% of recipients open emails solely based on the subject line. Did you know that 69% of people will report email messages as spam based on subject lines alone?

This highlights the importance of email subject lines. They can spell the difference between the success or failure of your email marketing campaigns.

A good email subject line will increase your email open rates, which then paves the way for all sorts of engagements with your recipients. There are several different strategies for writing eye-catching email subject lines, and we'll look at eight of them below, along with some example lines you can try today.

Type 1: Pain points

It is email marketing 101 to use your audiences’ pain points to guide them through your email marketing funnels. Add your subscribers’ pain points in your subject lines. Choose their most frustrating challenges or hurts; this entices them to open your emails.

Learn from these email subject line examples that underscore your audiences’ pain points.

  • Get great meals without breaking the bank
  • The solution to your beauty issues
  • Easy fixes to get you more kitchen space
  • Stop throwing money away on ink
  • Learn a language by dedicating five minutes of your day
  • Your guide to surviving your next overnight flight

Type 2: Fear of missing out

Leverage your subscribers’ fear of missing out (FOMO) by adding scarcity elements and urgency in your subject lines, and in your email marketing taglines. Include words that highlight time sensitivity and limited availability, such as “Urgent,” “Don’t miss out,” etc., to help increase your email open rates.

Learn from these email subject line examples.

  • Get this offer now before it’s too late
  • You have one day left to get your discount
  • Uh-oh. Your coupon expires today
  • Don’t miss out on earning points
  • Get this collection only for tonight

Type 3: Funny

Make a good first impression to improve your engagement rates by injecting humor in your welcome email subject lines. Know your audience, segment your email list, and boost your email open rates with a well-placed joke or funny phrase in your subject lines.

The subject line below from Talking Shrimp uses an inside joke for subscribers and fans, which encourages them to click.

Joke in email subject line

Throw in an inside joke in your email subject lines.| Image source: Author

Integrate a balance of humor, tone, and professional language in your subject line to keep your recipients from reporting you as spam. You don't want to be added to an email blacklist, which can block your emails from reaching your recipients.

Learn from these funny email subject line examples.

  • Offers that make us proud. (Unlike our cousin Dan)
  • From Uber: Since we can’t all win the lottery
  • We’re the real deal (Unlike Pluto)

Type 4: Personalized

Personalize your email marketing strategies by adding your recipients’ names in your subject lines. Share something personal, include location-specific offers, use casual language, and leverage interest targeting to personalize your email subject lines.

Learn from these personalized email subject line examples.

  • Hi, Peter. Do you remember me?
  • Happy Birthday, Peter! We have a surprise waiting for you
  • We haven’t seen you in a while, Peter
  • We missed you in the comments section
  • You signed up! Thanks for helping us
  • Having a hard time choosing? Let us help
  • Check out these hand-picked selections for you
Include recipients name in the subject line

Use your subscribers’ names to personalize your email subject lines Image source: Author


Type 5: Ego boost

Use ego-boosting subject lines to appeal to your subscribers. Make them stand out and help them become better versions of themselves. It’s a great way to pique their interest and influence them to open your email.

Create unique subject lines

Create subject lines that make your subscribers feel unique. Image source: Author

Learn from these email subject line examples that focus on boosting your audience's egos.

  • You deserve the latest season’s styles
  • Age-defying beauty secrets for you
  • Quick! We need your discerning eye
  • Don’t settle for last year’s fashion!
  • Do you think you look good in these pants? We know you do

Type 6: Incentive

Spell out the benefits you offer your subscribers instead of letting them guess. Showcase what’s in it for them in your subject lines to get more opens and click-throughs.

This email from Bruegger’s Bagels, for instance, gets right down to the point.

Showcase your offer in your email subject line

Be direct and showcase your offer in your email subject line. | Image source: Author

Learn from these email subject line examples that leverage incentives.

  • Access our downloadable content now
  • 15% off just for you!
  • Free shipping on your next purchase
  • Who doesn’t want freebies?

Type 7: Curiosity

Leave your subject lines open-ended to evoke intrigue. This compels your recipients to open your emails to satisfy their curiosity. To incorporate a sense of intrigue in your subject lines, ask questions, and share a glimpse of your exciting offers.

What Orbitz did here is a classic example of an intriguing subject line.

Example of Orbitz intriguing subject line

Create intriguing subject lines to inspire subscribers to take action. | Image source: Author

Learn from these email subject line examples that spark curiosity.

  • Eight habits successful people do
  • Unwrap your surprise gift inside
  • Unlock the secrets to success
  • Surprising ways to earn more by giving freebies

Type 8: Retargeting

Bring your subscribers back to your sales funnel with retargeting emails and subject lines that encourage them to complete an action. Create a follow-up email subject line that overcomes your subscribers’ objections, such as free shipping.

For instance, send abandoned cart emails to remind your recipients of their interest in your products, and use compelling subject lines to entice them to complete their purchase.

Email subject line that lures prospects

Use subject lines that lure your prospects back to your store.| Image source: Author

Learn from these email subject line examples that leverage retargeting.

  • Hi, Marie. It looks like you forgot some items in your cart
  • Great news! Items in your shopping cart are still available
  • Your shopping cart is reserved. We got you!
  • Forget something? Here’s 15% off!

4 tips for writing email subject lines that increase your open rates

Follow these best practices for writing email subject lines to skyrocket your email open rates.

Tip 1: Keep your subject lines under 50 characters

Shorten your email subject lines. Keep them less than 50 characters so none of your important words are cut off on small screens.

Also, use email marketing software that shows the number of characters on your subject lines to manage its length.

Tip 2: Know your audience

Understand your audience to create attention-grabbing subject lines that resonate with them.

When you have a clear picture of your audiences’ quirks and qualms, it’ll be easier to write compelling subject lines. Couple this strategy with email newsletter best practices and you get the winning combination to grow your email marketing ROI.

Tip 3: Perform split tests

Write different versions of your email subject lines and test which one gets the best response. Split tests help you discover which among the many subject lines you’re using are bringing in meaningful results.

As you uncover which subject lines are performing well and which ones aren’t, optimize your campaigns by investing more in high-performing emails while discontinuing those with poor performance.

Tip 4: Keep a swipe file of great subject lines

When you come across amazing email subject lines from companies that are sending you emails and newsletters, save them. Store them on your computer’s notepad or a cloud-based spreadsheet.

When you need to create an email subject line, take inspiration from this swipe file so you won’t have to start from scratch.

Create killer email subject lines to entice and engage your audience

Take inspiration from the effective email subject lines we covered. These are excellent starting points to develop your other email marketing efforts, including creating compelling newsletter subject lines.

Follow the best practices, use the right tools, and keep on testing. By doing so, it’ll be a matter of time before you’ll come up with a wildly successful small business email marketing campaign.

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