557 Email Subject Line Hacks to Get You Noticed in the Inbox
Life is hard for an email marketer.
Google smacks you down.
Subscribers complain and flag you for spam.
And people don’t even open the stupid thing they said they wanted just 30 seconds ago! What’s an email marketer to do?!
STEAL! That’s what.
What follows is a mega-list swipe file that links to some of the best email subject line line compilations out there.
Yes, there are…
Thank Brian Massey of Conversion Scientist for this one. In 2012, he categorized all of the panel submissions into logical categories like “Alliteration” & “Non-Sequiturs.”
Some of my favorites are:
- Multiple Personalities–Not a Disorder but the Norm
- Your Social Media Job Is Dead: Now What?
- Epic Battle: Creativity vs. Discipline in Social
This post on the Hubspot blog showcases some really unique subject lines, one of which was the most successful of Obama’s entire email campaign!
Notable examples include:
- Where to drink beer right now
- Buffer has been hacked
Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks Report – 52 Headlines For Writing Posts That Go Viral
From my mentor, Jon Morrow, the Headline Hacks report quite possibly gives the most thorough explanations of why certain headlines work.
Granted, this isn’t specifically for email, but these are designed to get attention, so the same rules still apply.
My favorites include:
- How Safe Is Your [ Valuable Person/Object] from [ Threat]?
- Can’t Keep up? 21 Ways to Simplify Your Search for New Clients
- How to Knock $127 Off Your Phone Bill in 15 Minutes or Less
This one on Unbounce gives a handful of powerful subject lines, along with insights on why they work.
Attention-grabbing specimens include:
- Were we boring you?
- Steve, where are you?
- How I grew the KissMetrics Blog From 0 to 350,000 readers a month
This single subject line post is so simple, so insanely simple, that you’ll wonder why it’s not in your automation funnel.
I won’t ruin it for you by giving you an example, but I will say this: You’re losing money by not knowing what it is.
Ok, so I’ll be honest. On their own, these subject lines are… ok. That’s fine though, because they’re meant to be a list of “starters.”
With what you’ve learned from the other posts on this list, I’m confident you could adapt them to be great.
- Which option do you prefer? = Neil Patel vs Chris Brogan, who does social better?
- Could this be possible? = Impossible! Jon Morrow just leaked his secret to making $500/ guest post!
- Can we talk about this? = [Name] We need to talk about [subject]
Another one from Brian Massey, only this time the subjects are more fun and creative.
Some fun examples include:
- How Social Media Fu@k’d Up My Marriage (Learn how not to have your relationship ruined by the online world)
- Your Computer is the Next Wonder Drug
- Zombies Must Eat: How Genre Communities Make Money
- Seven Reasons Your Employees Hate You.
On the VerticalResponse blog, they were kind enough to share some great subject line inspirations specifically for B2B marketers.
Great examples include:
- How to Impress Your Cranky CFO – Save $1,000
- Get a $30 Gift Card for 30 Minutes of Your Time
- How To Make it Onto Your Buyer’s Short List
Another from VerticalResponse. Only this time geared specifically towards retailers.
Some retail inspirations you’ll find there are:
- [New Product] has arrived. Order now before we run out.
- Extended for a day! Get Free shipping through Friday.
- Email subscriber exclusive: [Product name] sale is here.
This listacle on BuzzFeed demonstrates 8 of Senator Al Franklin’s brilliant email headlines.
I love these because they’re a combination of personal, quirky and direct. But more importantly, they seem to have an inherent understanding of the typical inbox environment is all about.
- Back up my boasting
- Me again
- Yes, this is a fundraising email
Another one on BuzzFeed documents what it means to be the Commander in Chief of email marketing.
Some notables include:
- Sometime soon, I want to meet you
- You’ll like this one
- Can you come to the president’s birthday?
There are only 8 there, (well, and one duplicate) but they are a perfect demonstration of emailing when your name (or company) has some weight to it.
This examination of the email subject lines in Amanda MacAuthor’s inbox on Mequoda.com is a great reminder that sometimes the best swipe file is right underneath your nose.
In it, she doesn’t just give subject line ideas, but why they stood out and grabbed her attention—a part of the process I think we should all consider more carefully. On a personal note, I know I don’t even bother with the “7 things to…” and “8 reasons why” emails.
That’s not to say they don’t work, I’m just saying that if I’m in your target demo, that’s not the best way to get my attention…
- Threatened and scared, she turned to an angel
- How to get 12 hours out of an 8 hour day
Taking my own advice, this isn’t an article, but a snapshot of the last 16 emails Thrillist sent me.
What I love about their email strategy is how they use location, and really seem to understand the local vernacular for that list.
Some standouts include:
- Bad Decision Time!
- Let’s get fat, Boston
- MMM…Fried Chicken
Last but not least, this article from Marketing Artfully has a great compilation of stand out email subject lines.
Some of my favorites are:
- 12 Pinterest Boards You Can’t Live Without, # 3 Is My Bible!
- The secrets behind Black Friday ad copy
- Become a Traffic Mogul With This “Game Changing” Software/System
Don’t want to take up too much more of your time, because you’ve got a lot of reading to do.
If you use or adapt one of these, let me know which one in the comments, along with the difference in your open rate.
I look forward to hearing about your success!
Check out other Crazy Egg articles by Tommy Walker