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Email Marketing
7 min

79 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Open Rates in 2021


How do you weigh the success rate of your email marketing campaigns?

The chances are that you measure it by the email open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, and bounce rate among others.

Analyzing the right metrics for your marketing campaign is extremely essential, especially considering that email marketing accounts for a 3800% increase in ROI, i.e., $38 for every $1 invested.

However, even among these matrics mentioned above, the email open rate assumes a n even exalted position than the other. After all, for email marketing to work, your prospects need to open your mail.

Every additional open means more potential sales and revenue, and even a tiny increase in your open rates can make a huge difference for your business. This is why every unopened email is a huge opportunity lost in achieving revenue.

Poor open rates have plagued digital marketers since time immemorial. In fact, a CampaignMonitor survey revealed that the open rate, on average, across industries stood at a meager 17.92%.

This brings us face to face with a stark reality; that more than 82% of people don’t open your emails.

While that may seem like a stumper to work your way around, there’s a simple solution to the problem.

Good email subject lines.

“Well, I could think of that too…” you might be thinking, and fairly so.

But this is the point we wanted to really hammer home. That being the subject lines of your emails can either make or break your email campaigns.

email subject line stats and trends
Source: Invesp

According to data by Invesp, as many as 47% of recipients click on an email based on the subject line. At the same time, 69% of subscribers judge an email to be spam based on, you guessed it, the subject line.

And this brings us to the most pressing part. Crafting good email subject lines.

The simplest and most remunerative way to compose good subject lines for a higher email open rate is to capitalize on natural human principles and psychological tendencies.

Just put yourself in the shoes of your customers and ask yourself which subject lines you would be titillated by, and voila, you are a step closer to achieving that mammoth ROI.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few email subject lines broken down into none overarching sections categorized on the basis of the customer’s position in the journey, their perception of your brand, and their general state of mind. In doing so, we’ll also see how they entice your readers and why they should be used.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) Subject Lines

A psychological trick that is impossible to ignore is the fear of missing out on something (or FOMO, as millennials call it). Capitalizing on FOMO has real benefits, as 60% of millennial customers would attest to it by claiming that they make reactive purchases after experiencing it, sometimes within as soon as 24 hours.

You can use FOMO to your benefit by feeding on the fear of subscribers through creating urgency or an element of scarcity in your subject lines. Words that bring limited availability and time sensitivity to the mind, such as “expiring,” “urgent,” “limited,” among others, should do the trick.

Let’s learn from the following examples:

  1. Oh no, your subscription is at an end
  2. Hey, did you know that you were missing out on points?
  3. You’ve only ONE DAY left before [offer] expires…
  4. Your [goal] plan goes adieu tonight
  5. ATTENTION! Get [offer] ASAP before it disappears
  6. Hey, earn twice the number of points today only
  7. Hurry! Your offer expires today

Personalized Subject Lines

Personalization is the email marketing tactic of today. In fact, by just personalizing your email subject line, you can boost your average open rate by 7.4% and achieve six times higher transaction rates.

Personalize your subject lines by including the name of your subscribers in your subject lines. You can also use colloquial language (if your subscriber base uses it), offer location-specific deals, and capitalize on interest targeting to make your subject lines more personal. Let’s take a look:

  1. Hi, [Name]. Hope you haven’t forgotten me
  2. Happy birthday, [Name]! Look inside for your surprise
  3. Haven’t seen you in a while, [Name]
  4. We couldn’t find you in the comments section, [Name]
  5. Hey, [Name]! Thanks for opting-in to our email list
  6. [Name], check out these hand-picked deals for you
  7. Hey [Name], are you still coming?

Curiosity Subject Lines

Composing subject lines that are open-ended can invoke intrigue and prompt your subscribers to engage with you. Brands that utilize interactive content to this end have seen 70% higher conversion rates.

In order to induce an element of curiosity in your email subject lines, offer them tantalizing deals, ask captivating questions, and even tell them what (not) to do. For example:

  1. *Don’t Open This Email* (Used by Manicube)
  2. Know what the fuss of this mystery email is about
  3. Ten bizarre tips that can improve your engagement rates
  4. These offers… for THOSE prices?! Unreal!
  5. Take a peek at your surprise gift
  6. Want to uncover the secrets to [vertical] success?
  7. Astonishing methods to earn more by providing freebies
  8. Look inside for the hottest [deal/offer]
  9. A surprise waiting to be unwrapped

Funny Subject Lines

If your subject line can amuse your subscribers, you can rest assured that they will open it.

As the process for telling good jokes goes, begin by knowing your audience first. Segment your subscriber list and augment your open rate by using subject lines laced with humor, such as:

  1. We like being used (used by The Muse)
  2. Since we can’t all hit the jackpot
  3. Spreadsheets never felt so good
  4. We’re the real deal (unlike Pinocchio)
  5. Boom shakalaka! Let’s hit it
  6. Offers that you can’t refuse (unlike The Godfather kind)
  7. “Look what you did, you little jerk…” (A reference to the movie Home Alone)

Vanity aka Ego Boost Subject Lines

Appealing to your subscriber’s vanity can always hold you in good stead. After all, everyone has a bit of it, and supplanting it can make you stand apart from the rest. Let’s take a look at how to boost your subscribers’ ego to your benefit:

  1. Hurry! We need your refined taste
  2. You deserve everything new
  3. Don’t settle for anything less than the best
  4. As seen in Vogue
  5. Wear what your favorite celebs are wearing
  6. Do you think you look awesome in this [product]? We sure think you do
  7. Are you as ready as ever?
  8. Gift ideas for your distinct eye
  9. Hey, [name]! We think you’ll make these [product] look awesome

Incentive Suject Lines

Providing incentives through emails can inordinately improve your open rates, as seen in a survey where 80% of respondents claimed that they would purchase from a new brand were they to receive an offer or a discount code.

Use incentives to your benefit by highlighting the benefits your email holds to your subscribers. Let them know what opening the email holds for them and see your open rates increase:

  1. Obtain our free [lead magnet] now
  2. 20% off! Only for you!
  3. Hey, [name]! Congrats on getting free shipping for your next purchase
  4. Want to access our free [content type]?

Retargeting Subject Lines

Retargeting emails have one purpose; to nudge subscribers to complete an action that they were meant to take but stopped midway.

If you can capitalize on this segment of users, you can 30 percent conversion rate, you can push conversion rates up by as much as 30%, on average. In order to do so, craft subject lines that revolve around better offers, overcoming rejections, or even bringing a sweeter deal to their notice.

  1. Great news! Your favorite item(s) is/are back in stock at a discounted price
  2. Hey, [name]! We have reserved your shopping cart for you
  3. Did you forget this discount coupon?
  4. Hey, [name]! Great news! Your cart price has dropped!
  5. Careful to not miss out on these new features
  6. Good news, [name]! Your shipping charges are free
  7. We won’t give up on you

Greed(y) Subject Lines

We have just established how tough it can be to pass up great deals. That’s why leveraging greed as a motivating factor can work really well for your open rates.

Given below are a few great subject line ideas for using “greed” as a hook:

  1. Meet your new friend in [product]
  2. Gain a head start this quarter
  3. Alert! Flash sale!
  4. New essentials for you
  5. Deals just too good to pass up on
  6. 25% off on your wishlist
  7. A hint of luxury at an affordable price
  8. Complementary [gift] on purchases above [minimum limit]
  9. Priority access for our favorite buyer
  10. Buy two, get one free

Pain Points Subject Lines

If you have a good grip on your ideal buyer persona, you can compose your subject lines around their pain points. Using pain points in your subject lines will serve two purposes: invoke the reader’s curiosity and gain their trust (after they open the email) by solving their problem for them.

  1. Fuel your automation efforts without going bankrupt
  2. Where do all your emails go?
  3. Get higher engagement rates with these easy hacks
  4. Stop wasting resources on [pain point]
  5. Your [relevant pain point] issues, resolved
  6. Since we can’t all win the lottery (used by Uber)
  7. How to avoid your next deadline day chaos
  8. Get over your [relevant pain point] issues with these quick fixes
  9. Stop wasting time on mindless work
  10. Increase clickthrough rates with these handy tips
  11. Everything you wished to know of web copy but didn’t know where to look

Simple Subject Lines

While these subject lines aren’t exactly as creative as the others in the above categories, they are nonetheless very remunerative.

The trick to making these subject lines work, though, is to provide good content consistently. Only then can you bank upon them to deliver the open rates you desire.

When you do this, you’ll create a space in the reader’s subconscious, and they will always feel tempted to open your emails. In fact, following this tactic has led these ‘bland’ subject lines to attain unreal interest rates, sometimes ranging between 60-87%. Let’s take a look at them here:

  1. [Company Name] Marketing Newsletter
  2. State of the Consumer Survey [Company Name] Update (Date)
  3. [Company Name]: The people behind your success
  4. [Company Name]: [MM/YYYY] news bulletin!
  5. [Company Name] Newsletter for the month [MM]
  6. [Company Name] invites you to its gala [event]
  7. Happy [birthday/holidays] from [company name]
  8. Invitation to [recipient name] from [company name]


Irrespective of which of the aforementioned tactics you use, ensure that your subject line is optimized for mobile.

Of course, it’s not a given that any of these random subject lines will work for you. It depends entirely on what you are selling and when. In any case, use these subject lines as a reference point and keep trying variations within email subject lines that have proven successful for you over and over again.

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