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Mar 17, 2022

What is Email Subject Line: Definition, Tips & Examples

Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
What is Email Subject Line: Definition, Tips & Examples


Email subject lines are undoubtedly the most significant part of any email. After all, the subject line that subscribers see in their inbox determines whether or not they open your email.

So, if you don't have effective email subject lines, your email marketing efforts may be in vain! But don't worry, you've arrived at the right place.

In this blog, we will be sharing various actionable tips to write email subject lines and the best email subject line styles.

What is an Email Subject Line?

An email subject line is the part of an email that appears in the user's inbox upon opening. It tells the purpose of sending the email and interests to your audience, thus determining if they open and read what you have written or not.

It also plays a critical role in consumer psychology and sending intentions — something marketers should be aware of!

People either read or delete emails based on the subject line.

Here is a typical example of an email subject line:

Why is Email Subject Line Important?

The subject line is one of the most important elements in an email, as it can influence whether or not the email is opened. In general, the subject line should be interesting and relevant to the email content, and it should also be short and to the point. Additionally, the subject line should be targeted to a specific audience.

For example, if you email customers about a new product launch, the subject line should be related to the product launch.

Since email inboxes are swamped with hundreds, if not thousands, of emails per day, email subject lines that are both snappy and clear are more critical than ever. This single content line can often determine whether or not an email is worth opening.

Writing compelling email subject lines will help you attract more customers to open your emails, avoid spam folders, and get your message in front of the proper individuals.

A well-crafted subject line can help you stand out from the competition, capture your readers' attention, and lure them into reading your email. It is also essential to make sure that your subject line is relevant to the email content, and it should also be catchy enough to be remembered.

Best Tips to Write Catchy Email Subject Lines

Here are some quick and best tips to write a great email subject line:

  1. Keep it short

People frequently check their emails on their mobile devices, swiping right past the mails that don't seem urgent. Keep your subject line within 40 characters or around five to seven words to avoid being shut off.

Your subscribers want to skim through their mailbox as soon as possible. Subject lines with only a few words can sometimes stand out and attract high engagement.

  1. Do not use spam words in the subject

The “most likely to be identified as spam” are subject lines that are aggressively sales-y. That means you should avoid excessively promotional language like "Buy now" or "Free," as well as all caps and many exclamation marks. These are guaranteed ways for your marketing emails to end up in the spam bin.

Rather than focusing on promotion, provide your skills and share knowledge that your audience would appreciate.

  1. Do not hesitate to ask questions

Questioning is an excellent strategy to hold your audience's attention and pique their interest. You'll pique readers' curiosity and encourage them to check your email by posing a question.

You can get the reader's attention by asking the questions that you think will address their pain point.

"Is SEO for you?"

"Do you need help with your website?"

Questions in email subject lines can invoke a sense of personalization and an even a higher open rate.

  1. Consider using a deadline

A deadline instills a sense of urgency in your readers, encouraging them to prioritize your email.

A series of emails will almost certainly be part of a successful promotional campaign for an event or a special offer. You can make an initial announcement, informing people of a forthcoming event. In a "last chance" follow-up email as the deadline approaches, remind them about the promotion.

Make the turnaround time as short as 24 hours if necessary. The statements that say "now or never" are generally the most effective.

  1. Use the main idea in your subject line

The best practice to get your email noticed is to use the main idea in your email subject line. No one has time to read the fluff in your email subject.

Thus, it is always good to write an email subject line that reflects the main purpose.

You may already know that sharing valuable content with your audience is an important aspect of a successful content marketing plan.

Consider what your subscribers are looking for right now and tease a solution in your subject line. For example, let's say, we need an email around discount offers.  

Scalenut email subject lines generates outputs that revolve around the main idea of giving a discount.

  1. Stand out from others

To write outstanding subject lines, you must first grasp two concepts:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What your company has to offer customers that they can't get elsewhere.

Consider your company's unique selling proposition and use it in your subject line.

Don't be hesitant to include your company's name in the subject line, especially if it's well-known. Many consumers will read emails based solely on the sender, so don't skip out on the opportunity to promote your brand.

  1. Instill humor

Some companies use clever marketing ploys that make their emails seem personal, such as including a customer's name in the subject line.

To stand out from the rest and show you're really listening, add a touch of humor to your email content.

Depending on the tone your company is striving for, you can try making some puns or wordplay to generate some laughs and engagement from your contacts.

  1. Brings surprises to your subject line

Just the way you don't like living the same lifestyle every day, the same way, your audience doesn't like being given the same usual mails. Surprising them might give you surprising results.

This might be anything from a little-known industry tidbit to a startling figure, or simply something customers aren't used to hearing from a sales email.

Your readers will want to read more if you share something surprising. The originality of your email will also make it more likely that people will remember it later.

  1. Do not put all in CAPS

Subject lines with all capital letters appear spammy and will be ignored by readers.


Don't you have the impression that someone is yelling at you?

Instead, to grab your reader's attention, use straightforward, appealing language.

  1. Use emojis in your subject lines

Email subject lines are one of the most powerful tools you have to grab people's attention. If your goal is to increase open rates, using emoji can be a great way to do it.

Emojis are universally understood and help draw in readers from all over the globe. Plus, they're a fun way to add an extra layer of personality and involvement to your email marketing campaign. Try a few different emojis and see what works best for your email campaigns.

  1.     Use A/B test for your subject lines

Before you send out your email, try running two different versions of the same email with slightly different subject lines to see which one performs better.

Email A/B testing will help you figure out what makes people click on your emails so you can make changes based on the results.

Best Types of Email Subject Lines

There are various ways to write an email subject line depending on the email type and mood of your audience. Below are the 7 best types and styles of email subject lines:

  1. Simple Email Subject Lines

According to Mailchimp, short, descriptive subject lines outperformed cheesy lures in an email subject line.

Some may scoff at the suggestion that comedy and inventiveness should be ignored when crafting email subject lines, especially when many marketing gurus disagree.

It's worth mentioning that this concise approach (writing a simple email approach) works best with notification emails because the email recipients already have a relationship with the content you're sending.

  1. Funny Email Subject Lines

A funny subject line might truly stand out among the dry, uninteresting emails. However, humor is a delicate subject; it thrives on exclusivity, which isn't always ideal when appealing to a broad audience.

On the other hand, a well-placed joke can get your email opened and gain you huge reputation points with people on your wavelength if you know your audience well and your emails are targeted.

  1. Astonishing Email Subject Lines

Controversy (sometimes) sells, and it attracts a lot of attention. You must tread lightly when using shock, controversy, in your topic lines.

This method necessitates trust in your knowledge of your audience's preferences and perceptions. It's a bit of a risk, but the rewards can be substantial.

  1. Email Subject with Numbers & Lists

Many of the same elements that go into creating a good blog post title also go into creating a good subject line. Because our brains are naturally drawn to digits, including numbers in your subject line can help capture attention.

This is why top 10 lists are so popular – they are easier for our brains to process, pique our interest, and promise a quick and easy read.

  1. Personalized Subject Lines

Another strategy to boost open rates is to use customization strategies in email subject lines.

By personalization, it doesn't always mean putting a user's name in the subject line; this has become so prevalent that many users dismiss it as spam.

Instead, use location-based offers and language, as well as interest-based targeting.

For example, a deals site like Groupon sends deals specific to certain locations.

  1. Ask Questions in Email Subject Lines

Another way to stand out from the crowd is to use question marks and odd punctuation. Exclamation marks are useful, but they're overused in subject lines, so they're not particularly effective. Instead, play around with some colorful symbols or loud punctuation to catch people's attention.

In contrast to a typical statement, asking your readers a question engages them right away. Questions start a conversation with users right away, making your emails more likely to be opened.

  1. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and Other Scarcity Email Subject Lines

We all have a profound fear of being left behind, of missing out — it used to be a survival instinct, but today it's simply another subject line approach to get us to buy something.

Email subject lines that threaten scarcity (limited time offer!) perform well, and get  better sales. To avoid "missing out," people will do some very quick and cold actions.

Best Email Subject Line Examples

Here are some of the best subject lines that email marketers may use:

  1. Fear of Missing Out

This old school technique is still prevalent and still works better. By instiling the fear of missing out on a great offer, a buyer can quickly take an action or a buying decision. Some subject lines that create a FOMO among the readers may help.

Here are some of the best examples:

"Uh-oh, your prescription is about to run out."

"You're losing out your points."

"[URGENT] You have ONE DAY to watch this..."

"At midnight, your seven-figure plan expires..."

"Get this NOW before it's gone... [WEEKEND ONLY]..."

"Today only, Mary, earn double points."

"A denim lover's fantasy tonight only."

  1. Funny Subject Line Examples

If the subject line of your email makes your subscribers joyous, they'll be compelled to open it. After all, how many times have you seen a subject line that made you laugh, but you didn't read it?

Humor takes a little more thought and creativity, but it can pay off big time in terms of open rates.

Here are some examples by Hubspot:

"Need a day at the beach?"

"Since we can't all win the lottery …"

"3 bizarre steps to being better at your job."

"Pairs nicely with spreadsheets."

"Revised policy regarding jean shorts at work."

"HBO GO Password?"

"Don't invite Steve to that meeting. He'll dress like a ghost."

"Dad jokes. I've got ‘em."

"You can't buy this on Amazon …"

"You have this in common with Steve Jobs."

"Swipe right on us."

"I like you better than my nephew right now."

"What's your Uber rating?”

  1. Pain Points

You should be aware of your buyer persona's major pain points if you truly understand them. Utilize those pain areas to persuade subscribers to read your emails by resolving their issues. A catchy subject line, including user pain and problems, may increase open rates.

Here are some great examples of how some big brands use pain points as email subject lines:

Pizza Hut: “Feed your guests without breaking the bank.”

IKEA: “Where do all these toys go?”

IKEA: “Get more kitchen space with these easy fixes.”

HP: “Stop wasting money on ink.”

Sephora: “Your beauty issues, solved.”

Uber: “Since we can’t all win the lottery…”

Thrillist: “How to Survive Your Next Overnight Flight.”

Guess: “Wanted: Cute and affordable fashions.”

Evernote: “Stop wasting time on mindless work.”

  1. Newsletter Email Subject Lines

Newsletters are the secret recipe for getting more traffic to your website and creating an email list.

Here are some amazing examples of email subject lines for Newsletters:

“We noticed you taking a look at us.”

“Your medication is about to expire, oh no.”

“Your cart's timer is about to go off!”

“What were your thoughts on this? Submit a review.”

“Only VIPs get a sneak peek.”

“👗 (Wow!) It's free! Alert for Clothes Want a Tullamore Custom Emoji and 6 Months of FREE Walks? For a chance to win, book a walk now!”

“Make a statement with the color of the year.”

“How to live at home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

“Get a $20 discount on orders of $25 or more.”


Q. Does plagiarism apply to emails?

Ans: Plagiarism may not apply to emails, but it is never a good practice to copy someone else's email subject lines as it is going to thousand of your subscribers.

Q. Should I put my readers’ name in the email subject? 

Ans: By entering the readers’ first name in the subject line of your email, you make them feel special. The ones that include your name in the subject line are the ones that usually catch your attention out of the dozen emails you receive each day.

Q. What are the reasons for low email open rates?

Ans: Some of the reasons for low email open rates could be because your subject line is irrelevant, too long or uninteresting. It may also be because of your timing of email or the quality of your email list.

Q. Are there any other ways to write email subject lines besides hiring a writer for the same?

Ans: You can use email subject line generator tools to write compelling email subject lines. Various email subject line generators generate subject lines based on the tonality and description of your email body.

Q. What are the best email subject line generator tools?

Ans: Some of the best and easy-to-use email subject line generators are Scalenut, ActiveCampaign, HubSpot and Keap.


Writing compelling subject lines is one of the most important aspects of nurturing a successful email campaign. Use these tips to write irresistible and attention-grabbing email subjects for your next mailing.

With these pointers in mind, you'll be able to craft effective email subject lines that will garner the attention your emails deserve.

But don't take our word for it.

Examine your own inbox to identify which emails you've opened recently. Putting yourself in your contacts ' shoes is one of the finest strategies to construct a subject line that will get you noticed and increase your business.

If you want to create email subject lines that generate hook and compel action, try the Scalenut email subject line generator for free.

Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager
ABout the AUTHOR
Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager

Suman Samal is a Asst. Marketing Manager at Scalenut. She is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in content marketing and SEO. She truly believes that with the right set of tools every organization can improve the ROI of their content marketing campaigns. She spends her time managing content operations at Scalenut and ensuring that everything we publish is of the highest quality.

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Date: Sept 12, 2023