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6x4 Inspiring examples of email subject lines

First impressions are not always accurate, but boy do they count! Since they are formed at the initial point of contact, it’s very hard to correct them in time so if you are a digital marketer, you need to make a good (and correct) impression from the very start.

Promotional emails flood people’s inboxes every day and it takes a very well-crafted subject line to convince the recipient that opening it will be worth their while. What those few words of your subject convey can either make or break your entire campaign so it’s wise to get a feel of internet user psychology, be aware of the trends and employ this data in order to craft the best possible subjects.

Below you will find some very good examples, organized by some of the most frequent typologies. Even though not all of them can be used to promote your online course, I’m sure you’ll get a few good ideas based on this list.

Natural curiosity

People are inquisitive by nature so writing subject lines that entice them with unfinished information will lead to higher open rates. Cliffhangers or open-ended subjects can leverage on people’s desire to not leave holes in their knowledge.

  • Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About - GrubHub
  • 9 disgusting facts about Thanksgiving – Eat This not That
  • What they eat in prison – Thrillist
  • Don’t open this email – Manicube

Humor almost never fails

People like to laugh and always appreciate a good pun. Having a funny email in their list of very serious ones will encourage the recipient to open and read it.

  • Licking your phone never tasted so good – OpenTable
  • We like being used – The Muse
  • Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve) – Grupon
  • Need a day at the beach? Just scratch’n sniff your way to paradise ... – Travelocity

A sense of urgency

One of Cialdini’s principles of persuasion is about scarcity. If people fear they will miss out unless they move fast, the natural inclination will be to act – in the case of email marketing this means taking a look at the offer.

  • You’re missing out on points – Jet Blue
  • Tonight only. A denim’s lover dream – Guess
  • John, earn double points today only – Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • The sale ends at midnight – Lensa

Appeal to vanity

This is incredibly efficient. People want to be liked, accepted and even envied by others so anything that promises to deliver any of that will be alluring.

  • Products that celebs are wearing – Sephora
  • Age-defying beauty tricks – Le Mer
  • Get ready. Keep the pie off your thighs returns – Pop Physique
  • Don’t wear last year’s styles – Guess

Solve the pain points

When deciding to start a marketing email campaign for your online course, it’s good to have a persona in mind, to know who the target audience is. This should make it easier to identify the pain points and leverage them in the subject line.

  • Since we can’t all win the lottery... – Uber
  • Get more kitchen space with easy fixes – IKEA
  • How to survive your next overnight flight. – Trillist
  • Stop wasting time on mindless work – Evernote


When it comes to online shopping, people often stop at some point during the acquisition process. Retargeting emails are meant to bring internet users back in the sales funnel.

  • The price dropped for something in your cart – Target
  • We are not going to Give Up on You – Vivino
  • Hey, forgot something? Here’s 20% off – Bonobos
  • Did you miss out on some of these new features? – Animoto

All in all

Creativity is most important when it comes to coming up with the best subject lines for your emails. The problem with digital marketing is that as soon as something is proven effective, everybody starts doing it and internet users become disenchanted.

It’s therefore paramount that one always stays on top of things, follows the trends but also tries to set them. With subject lines, it is wise to A/B test them in order to see what the target audience responds best to. If emails are deleted as soon as they make it into the inbox, the product doesn’t stand a chance, regardless how wonderful it is.

Speaking of wonderful, research has shown that this is one of the words that drives email open rates up. There are many categories of terms and ways of employing them, you can see what the results are after taking a look at more than sample of 700 million emails from right here.

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