164 Best Email Subject Lines And Why They Work! (2022)

Did you know that email subject lines are the single most important part of any email you send? That’s because they’re the key to whether a reader opens your email, ignores it or even sends it to spam.

In this Guide to The Best Email Subject Lines, we’ll help you understand what makes good email subject lines, and 164 examples you can use to increase open rates.

Plus, we’ll help you understand the psychology behind them so you can replicate their success again and again.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is An Email Subject Line?
  2. Why A Good Email Subject Line is Important
  3. 164 Best Email Subject Lines (and Why They Work)
    1. Drive Fear of Missing Out
    2. Invoke Curiosity
    3. Be Funny
    4. Appeal to Vanity
    5. Provoke Greed
    6. Reward Sloth
    7. Poke at Pain Points
    8. Use Retargeting
    9. Get Personal
    10. Be Straightforward
  4. Top Email Subject Line Keywords
  5. Conclusion: Some Final Tips for Crafting Irresistible Email Subject Lines

Exclusive: Download the 164 Best Email Subject Lines Cheatsheet for boosting your email open rates.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

What is an Email Subject Line?

The email subject line is the line of text people see in their email inbox which hints at the contents of an email. It’s often this one line of text that determines if a reader will open your email fully to read it, or simply trash the email.

Why Good Email Subject Lines Are Important

47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. At the same time, 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line.

why you need good email subject lines open rates report as spam

In other words: your subject lines have the power to make or break your email marketing campaigns.

The best way to write email subject lines for higher opens (instead of being marked as spam) is by leveraging natural human tendencies and psychological principles to convince the reader to open the email.

Here are 164 examples of the best subject lines for email marketing, and the proven principles that make them work…

164 Best Email Subject Lines (and why they work)!

Drive Fear of Missing Out in Email Subject Lines

One psychological principle that is practically impossible to resist is the fear of missing out. You can use this fear in your subject lines by adding an element of scarcity (limited availability) or urgency (limited time).

In fact, subject lines that include words that imply time sensitivity–like “urgent”, “breaking”, “important” or “alert”–are proven to increase email open rates.

Here are some great sample subject lines for emails that use the fear of missing out

  1. Warby Parker: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”
  2. JetBlue: “You’re missing out on points.”
  3. Digital Marketer: “[URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to watch this…”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…”
  5. Digital Marketer: “[WEEKEND ONLY] Get this NOW before it’s gone…”
  6. Jersey Mike’s Subs: “Mary, Earn double points today only”
  7. Guess: “Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream”

Invoke Curiosity

Humans have a natural desire for closure– we don’t like having gaps in our knowledge. You can leverage this desire for closure by leaving your subject line open-ended so subscribers will be curious, like a cliffhanger that can only be satisfied by opening the email.

You can make subscribers curious by asking a question, promising something interesting, or simply saying something that sounds strange or unusual.

Here are some great examples of curiosity-inducing subject lines

  1. Manicube: “*Don’t Open This Email*”
  2. GrubHub: “Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About”
  3. Refinery29: “10 bizarre money habits making Millennials richer”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Check out my new “man cave” [PICS]”
  5. Digital Marketer: “Is this the hottest career in marketing?”
  6. Thrillist: “What They Eat In Prison”
  7. Eat This Not That: “9 Disgusting Facts about Thanksgiving”
  8. Chubbies: “Hologram Shorts?!”
  9. The Hustle: “A faster donkey”
  10. Mary Fernandez: “? a surprise gift for you! {unwrap}”

Funny Email Subject Lines

If your subject line makes your subscribers laugh, then they’ll simply have to open it. After all, have you ever read a subject line that tickled your funny bone and you didn’t read it?

Being humorous requires a bit more thought and creativity, but it can really pay off in terms of your open rates.

Here are some funny email subject lines to make your subscribers laugh.

  1. Eater Boston: “Where to Drink Beer Right Now” (Sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday.)
  2. OpenTable: “Licking your phone never tasted so good”
  3. Groupon: “Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”
  4. The Muse: “We Like Being Used”
  5. Warby Parker: “Pairs nicely with spreadsheets”
  6. UncommonGoods: “As You Wish” (A reference to the movie The Princess Bride.)
  7. Travelocity: “Need a day at the beach? Just scratch n’ sniff your way to paradise…”
  8. TicTail: “Boom shakalak! Let’s get started.”
  9. Thrillist: “Try To Avoid These 27 People On New Year’s Eve”
  10. Baby Bump: “Yes, I’m Pregnant. You Can Stop Staring At My Belly Now.”
  11. Gozengo: “NEW! Vacation on Mars”
  12. The Hustle: “Look what you did, you little jerk…” (This one’s a reference to the movie Home Alone. We hope.)

Appeal to Vanity

Everyone has a bit of vanity. People love to be liked, accepted and even revered by others. It’s just a part of being human.

That’s why some of the most clever subject lines use vanity to get you to open the email. To do this, you can either promise something that makes the subscriber look better to their peers, or invoke the fear of being shamed.

Here are some great examples of clever email subject lines that leverage vanity

  1. Guess: “Don’t wear last year’s styles.”
  2. Fabletics: “Your Butt Will Look Great in These Workout Pants”
  3. Jeremy Gitomer: “How Have You Progressed Since the Third Grade?”
  4. Rapha: “Gift inspiration for the discerning cyclist”
  5. La Mer: “Age-defying beauty tricks”
  6. Pop Physique: “Get Ready. Keep the Pie Off Your Thighs Returns.”
  7. Rapha: “As worn in the World Tour”
  8. Sephora: “Products the celebs are wearing”

Provoke Greed in Email Subject Lines

You may not think of yourself as a “greedy” person, but it can be really tough to pass up a great deal… even if you don’t really need the item right now. That’s why sales, discounts and special offers work really well in your subject lines.

However, be careful about offering really huge discounts– the higher the percentage, the less reliable effect it has on your open rates (perhaps because consumers don’t believe large discounts are real).

Regardless, you can usually expect to see an increase in your click rates whenever you offer a discount in your subject line. That’s probably because the people who open these emails are already interested in your offer, so they’re naturally inclined to click.

Here are some great email subject line ideas for hitting your subscriber’s “greed” button

  1. Topshop: “Meet your new jeans”
  2. Topshop: “Get a head start on summer”
  3. HP: Flash. Sale. Alert.”
  4. HP: “New must-haves for your office”
  5. Seafolly: “A new product you won’t pass on”
  6. Guess: “25% off your favorites”
  7. Rip Curl: “Two for two”
  8. La Mer: “A little luxury at a great price”
  9. Rapha: “Complimentary gift wrap on all purchases”
  10. The Black Tux: “Get priority access.”

Reward Sloth

Another common trait among all humans is sloth, or the tendency to avoid work. Even people who aren’t inclined to be lazy would prefer a silver bullet over the long and hard route.

You can give subscribers an easier way to achieve their goals by offering a shortcut, or a useful resource that saves a lot of time and energy. (These useful emails are perfect for lead nurturing too!)

Here are some great examples of email subject lines that satisfy sloth

  1. Syed from OptinMonster: “✔ 63-Point Checklist for Creating the Ultimate Optin Form”
  2. Syed from OptinMonster: “Grow your email list 10X ⚡ faster with these 30 content upgrade ideas”
  3. Ramit Sethi: “How to email a busy person (including a word-for-word script)”
  4. Digital Marketer: “Steal these email templates…”
  5. Digital Marketer: “A Native Ad in 60 Minutes or Less”
  6. Digital Marketer: “212 blog post ideas”

Poke at Pain Points

If you really understand your buyer persona, you should know their biggest pain points. Use those pain points to get subscribers to open your emails by solving that problem for them.

Here are some examples of email subject lines that bring out the subscriber’s pain points and offer a solution

  1. Pizza Hut: “Feed your guests without breaking the bank”
  2. IKEA: “Where do all these toys go?”
  3. IKEA: “Get more kitchen space with these easy fixes”
  4. HP: “Stop wasting money on ink”
  5. Sephora: “Your beauty issues, solved”
  6. Uber: “Since we can’t all win the lottery…”
  7. Thrillist: “How to Survive Your Next Overnight Flight”
  8. Guess: “Wanted: Cute and affordable fashions”
  9. Evernote: “Stop wasting time on mindless work”
  10. Duolingo: “Learn a language with only 5 minutes per day”

How To Use Retargeting In Email Subject Lines

Retargeting emails are sent to subscribers when they fail to complete an action or a step in your sales funnel (e.g. when they abandon their cart or fail to purchase after their free trial). These emails serve to bring your subscribers back to your sales process.

You can write effective retargeting subject lines by overcoming objections, offering something to sweeten the deal, or alerting them that something bad is going to happen if they don’t take action.

Here are some excellent examples of retargeting email subject lines

  1. Nick Stephenson: “How you can afford Your First 10,000 Readers (closing tonight)”
  2. Bonobos: “Hey, forget something? Here’s 20% off.”
  3. Target: “The price dropped for something in your cart”
  4. Syed from Envira: “Mary, your Envira account is on hold!”
  5. Syed from Envira: “I’m deleting your Envira account”
  6. Ugmonk: “Offering you my personal email”
  7. Animoto: “Did you miss out on some of these new features?”
  8. Pinterest: “Good News: Your Pin’s price dropped!”
  9. Unroll.Me: “⚠ Unroll.Me has stopped working”
  10. Vivino: “We are not gonna Give Up on You!”

Personal Email Subject Lines

Email subject lines that are personalized by including a name boost open rates by 10-14% across industries.

But including your subscriber’s name is only one way to make your subject lines more personal. You can also use casual language, share something personal, or use copy that implies familiarity or friendship.

Here are some examples of personal email subject lines that get attention

  1. Guess: “Mary, check out these hand-picked looks”
  2. Rent the Runway: “Happy Birthday Mary – Surprise Inside!”
  3. Bonnie Fahy: “Mary, do you remember me?”
  4. Kimra Luna: “I didn’t see your name in the comments!?”
  5. John Lee Dumas: “Are you coming?”
  6. UrbanDaddy: “You’ve Changed”
  7. Influitive: “So I’ll pick you up at 7?”
  8. James Malinchak: “Crazy Invitation, I am Going to Buy You Lunch…”
  9. Brooklinen: “Vanilla or Chocolate?”
  10. Sam from The Hustle: “I love you”
  11. Ryan Levesque: “Seriously, Who DOES This?”
  12. Jon Morrow: “Quick favor?”
  13. Mary Fernandez: “you free this Thurs at 12PM PST? [guest blogging class]”
  14. Mary Fernandez: “? your detailed results…”
  15. Syed from OptinMonster: “300% increase in revenue with a single optin + a neat growth trick from my mastermind!”
  16. Revolution Tea: “Thanks for helping us”
  17. Harry’s: “Two razors for your friends (on us)”

Straightforward Email Subject Lines

When in doubt, make your subject line simple and straightforward. Contrary to what you might think, these “boring” subject lines can actually convert really well.

The key to making this work for your list is to consistently provide value in all of your emails. Don’t ever send an email unless you have something important to say: always make sure your campaigns are packed with value. If you do this, you’ll train your subscribers to open your emails no matter what the subject line says.

For help with writing better emails, check out our post on 19 quick and dirty tricks for writing better emails.

Here are some examples of email subject lines that get straight to the point

  1. Al Franken: “Yes, this is a fundraising email”
  2. AYR: “Best coat ever”
  3. Barack Obama: “Hey”

…and these “boring” subject lines performed the highest out of 40 million emails, with open rates between 60-87%…

  1. “[Company Name] Sales & Marketing Newsletter”
  2. “Eye on the [Company Name] Update (Oct 31 – Nov 4)”
  3. “[Company Name] Staff Shirts & Photos”
  4. “[Company Name] May 2005 News Bulletin!”
  5. “[Company Name] Newsletter – February 2006”
  6. “[Company Name] and [Company Name] Invites You!”
  7. “Happy Holidays from [Company Name]”
  8. “Invitation from [Company Name]”

Top Email Subject Line Keywords

There have been many studies analyzing the effectiveness of using specific email subject line keywords. Use these keywords when crafting your own email copy and subject lines to boost your open rates even further.

According to Alchemy Worx, which analyzed 21 billion emails sent by 2,500 brands, the top five most effective subject line keywords were:

  1. “upgrade”
  2. “just”
  3. “content”
  4. “go”
  5. “wonderful”

In another study from Alchemy Worx, which analyzed 24.6 billion emails, the top subject line keywords for open rates were:

  1. “jokes”
  2. “promotional”
  3. “congratulations”
  4. “revision”
  5. “forecast”
  6. “snapshot”
  7. “token”
  8. “voluntary”
  9. “monthly”
  10. “deduction”

Based on Digital Marketer’s analysis of 125 million emails they sent in 2018, some top subject line keywords to try are:

  1. “free”
  2. “ICYMI”
  3. “$ today, $$$ tomorrow”
  4. numbers (e.g. “7-figure plan”, “212 ideas”, “60 minutes or less”)
  5. [brackets] (e.g. “[EMAIL MARKETERS] $95 today, $995 tomorrow,” “[In Case You Missed It] Our best-performing blog post of all time,” “[NAME’s Last Reminder] Up to 90% off our best-selling products gone in 3…2…1…”)

Adestra analyzed over 2.2 billion emails, and found the following top subject line keywords:

  1. “free delivery”
  2. “available”
  3. “new”
  4. “alert”
  5. “news”
  6. “update”
  7. “summer”
  8. “weekend”

In another study from Adestra, which looked at over 125K email campaigns, the top performing subject line keywords were:

  1. “thank you”
  2. “*|*|*|*|” (i.e. a subject line that has multiple stories delineated by pipes. For example, “Headline 1 | Headline 2 | Headline 3 | Headline 4”)
  3. “monthly”
  4. “thanks”
  5. “*|*|*|”
  6. “bulletin”
  7. “golden”
  8. “iPhone”
  9. “breaking”
  10. “order today”

Finally, a report by Smart Insights looked at a random sample of 700 million emails, and found that the top performing subject line keywords were:

  1. “introducing”
  2. “celebrate”
  3. “buy”
  4. “continues”
  5. “get your”
  6. “what…?”
  7. “won’t…?”
  8. “do…?”
  9. “can…?”
  10. “may…?”
  11. “on orders over”
  12. “orders over”
  13. “off selected”
  14. “your next order”
  15. “available”
  16. “brand new”
  17. “latest”
  18. “special”
  19. “wonderful”
  20. “great deals”
  21. “sale starts”
  22. “back in stock”
  23. “stock”
  24. “sale now”
  25. “now in”

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Conclusion: Some Final Tips for Crafting Irresistible Email Subject Lines

Before choosing a subject line at random, keep these tips in mind for the highest possible open rates.

Most People Open Emails on Mobile

Regardless of which of the above techniques you decide to use, make sure your subject line is optimized for mobile users.

While mobile access to email saw a dip at the end of 2018, it’s still the preferred way people access their email.

market share most used email platforms

You can use free marketing tools like Zurb’s TestSubject to see how your subject line will appear on a variety of popular mobile devices.

testsubject zurb subject and preheader tester

Originality is Key

Also, keep in mind that being original is the key to sustainable success with your email subject lines.

The truth is, subscribers get bored easily. If you want to engage your first-time openers and long-term inactive subscribers, you don’t want them to read your subject line and think, “There’s that weekly newsletter again that I always ignore.” You’ll need to keep mixing things up over the long haul.

Try Out Emojis

According to a report by Experian, using emojis in your subject lines can increase your open rates by 45%.

Well, we’ve been testing this out at OptinMonster as well, and we can confirm that the email subject lines with emojis do beat out the plain text ones!

Here are the top 15 emojis by subject line appearances.

emojis popular in email subject lines

These aren’t necessarily the “best” ones to use—they’re just the most popular. You can get creative with different emojis and different emoji combinations for your own email subject lines.

That’s it! We hope you found these 164 best email subject lines to be helpful in creating your next subject line. If you did, consider downloading the cheat sheet, so you can always have this guide handy.

Best Email Subject Lines Cheatsheet

Now it’s your turn. Go ahead and choose one of the subject line examples above to modify and make your own.

You may also want to consider incorporating some of the top subject line keywords to boost your newsletter open rates even more. Not sending a newsletter? Learn how to create and send your first email newsletter with our guide.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out 30 content upgrade ideas to grow your email list and these email subject line statistics.

Mary Fernandez
Mary Fernandez is a professional blogger. When she’s not at her desk, you can usually find Mary exploring sunny San Diego, CA with her laptop, husband, and three kids in tow.


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  2. Great we need more post like this!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Eduardo!

      1. thanks,was so helpfull

      2. Alejandro Cuevas May 24, 2017 at 9:37 am

        Mary can you please help me write a great introductory email to several new clients? I am in the transportation/logistics industry.

        Thank you!

        1. Sharon Hurley Hall May 24, 2017 at 10:18 am

          We’ve got some great examples of promotional emails, Alejandro. Hope this helps. 🙂

  3. This post is fantastic! Thank you!!!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Jennifer!

  4. For any brand today, yearning for an effective online presence, it is must have to increase the email open rates. And without a doubt, an eye catching email subject lines is one such way to grab the user’s attention which make readers prompt to read emails.

  5. Awesome! keep it coming

  6. Simply Awesome !!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Govind! 🙂

  7. I feel that is among the most significant information for me. And i’m happy studying your article. However wanna commentary on few normal things, The site taste is great, the articles is really excellent : D. Excellent job, cheers

  8. I’m learning how to write catchy subject lines, and this article was very helpful. Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad this was helpful for you, Kevin! 🙂

  9. Very helpful, thanks for sharing.

  10. When asking a company for something like a donation or samples of their products what is the best thing to say in the subject line of your email?

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall March 13, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Hi, Kelly. Great question. We’ve got an article on how non-profits can use email marketing to increase donations that you might find useful. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get more tips on email subject lines and other marketing topics.

  11. Veerendrakumar March 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Hey Mary,

    Your blog is excellent. However, Subject lines mentioned in your blog doesn’t suit at professional level. Could you please help me in figuring out subject lines while sending a professional email to a stranger asking for a favour?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall March 16, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Vereendra, you’re right; this article is about email marketing, rather than writing letters. Maybe this article where people dissect their most successful subject lines will provide some inspiration? Hope that’s helpful, and please follow us on Twitter so you’ll know immediately when we publish something new on this topic.

  12. Mary thanks a lot! This is very helpful and easy to read!

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall July 12, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Glad you found it helpful, Novelyn. Check out our post on running an email marketing campaign for more tips. 🙂

  13. Hey there! Thank you for all of the information on your site! I’ve found a lot of it helpful, as email marketing has been very challenging for me, but I did notice that there’s some contradicting info in this article with another from your site. In the above article, there are several examples that use words that are also said to flag spam filters in the article titled “11 Reasons Why Your Emails Go in the Spam Box (and How to Make Sure They Don’t)” and in the “this comprehensive list” link under the #10 heading of that article. Can you clarify for me? I have very low open rates with my emails and I want to make sure I’m understanding what I’m getting wrong. Your expertise is much appreciated! Thanks again for the time spent gathering all of the info in your articles and for your advice! 🙂

    1. Hey Katie, great question! It’s true that it’s smart to avoid certain words that can be associated with spammy emails. However, using those words won’t necessarily automatically flag your email as spam – rather they’re just one of many signals that email services look for when deciding whether or not an email is spam.

      If you’re writing good subject lines, following deliverability best practices, and keeping your email list cleaned, and still seeing low open rates, it could be that your emails aren’t targeted towards your subscribers’ interests. For example, if someone signs up for vegan recipes and starts getting emails with hamburger recipes, they aren’t likely to open them. That’s an extreme example, but the more targeted your emails are to your subscriber’s interests, the better your engagement will be. That’s one reason why it’s important to segment your list.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Naeemah Hawthorne September 18, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    This article was very helpful! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Mary,

    These subject lines are awesome. U copied some of them so I can use for email marketing. This is like a gold cave for email marketers. Thank you.

  16. Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for beginner blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    1. Jennifer Duann Fultz
      Jennifer Duann Fultz August 12, 2022 at 10:25 am

      Hi Larry! Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Our friends at WPBeginner have written a comprehensive guide to starting a blog: https://www.wpbeginner.com/start-a-wordpress-blog/ Hope this helps!

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