Ten Successful Subject Line Formulas to Try on Your Next Marketing Email

Find the one that's right for you!

Finding the right subject line for your amazing email series can be hard. I get it.  You want to create a sense of urgency to encourage your email subscribers to open and take action, but you don't want to blether on or sound like a robot. 

Here are ten examples of short, sharp email subject lines that have worked both for me as an email marketer and in my own inbox as a customer and subscriber. 

  1. "How to do [X]" - This is a great one if you're offering a helpful product or service that you want your email subscribers to know about and use.  Imagine an email in your inbox with the subject line "How to save money on your online shopping starting today." Sounds pretty compelling to me!

  2. "Don't do [X] until you've read this..." -  Way to make your subscribers stop in their tracks. This creates both a sense of urgency and a curiosity for your subscribers. If an email with the subject "Never run again until you've read this" appeared in my inbox, I'd be opening it ASAP. Especially if it came from a company who sells shoes, offers running training or tracking promotes weight loss or general health.

  3. "# ways to [X]" - Here is a great option if you've got a few ideas about how your subscribers can achieve some benefit they're seeking. Can you provide advice like "3 ways to increase your productivity starting yesterday"? If so, this one might be for you.

  4. "Question?" - Use what, when, where, why, how and who questions that don't require a "yes or no" answer. "What does your dream kitchen look like?" suggests that you have some different styles of kitchens or kitchenware in your email, any of which could be to my taste and budget. I better open your email to check it out.

  5. "What I learned after X" - Be your own case study, and prove that you know what you're talking about. Having sent more than 1 million automated emails in my email marketing career my email might read "What I learned after sending a million marketing emails." My personal trainer might offer "What I learned after helping clients lose 500 kilograms in 12 months." Don't forget to make the learnings relevant to your target audience. 

  6. "# [X] mistakes you might have already made" -  This one picks on the insecurities of people on your subscriber list. Sorry team, I know it's not very nice, but it's effective! "4 email subject line blunders you might've already made" would pique my curiosity... If you happen to be in a very specific niche, you might be able to take this in a slightly different direction: "3 email subject line blunders your competitor is making right now."

  7. "Avoid these # [X] roadblocks" - Similar to above, but placing a little less blame and shame, you're hoping to help your subscribers out! I get ones like this all the time: "Avoid these 3 weight loss mistakes" and I always click them looking for the holy grail! (And maybe advice that cheese platters are a robust food choice. They're not.)

  8. " [X], [Y], and [Z]" - People love things in threes and this can be a fun and compelling way to gather three random things into one place, as long as they make sense together (or maybe they don't—maybe that's why its so compelling to the subscriber). I'd open this if it arrived: "Brains, Braun and how Salsa Dancing gave me both."

  9. "Imagine [X]" - There is nothing like a spot of daydreaming to endear yourself to a subscriber. "Imagine your baby sleeping through the night." I know a bunch of parents who would pay for a result like that! If you can offer it, let them imagine how great their life would be with it.

  10. "Do [X] now" - Don't wait another second or you might miss out. The combination of urgency and scarcity (AKA FOMO) are key to this one. "Check our 24-hour sale now!" Yes, Ma'am. You don't need to offer me a flash sale twice!

So, are you ready to go update your marketing emails? Well then! What are you waiting for? Go get 'em!

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Ten Successful Subject Line Formulas to Try on Your Next Marketing Email