7+ BEST Subject Line Formats for Marketing Emails

The more people open your emails or newsletter, the more sales you get. That’s what makes subject lines so important. People mostly read “headlines.” If you can’t get them with the subject line, the rest never gets seen.

These can be sometimes tricky to create. Because you want to generate as much curiosity and interest as possible. But at the same time, you don’t want to clickbait your audience and lose your credibility.

For new ideas, here are 7 subject line formats you can use.

1) Lists

BuzzFeed has made millions of dollars using listicles. However, adding a number to a headline won’t cut it. If you check the BuzzFeed website, you’ll see that it’s not just about a list. They also expand on it, touching an emotional angle.

For example, “7 marketing tools you need” isn’t the best subject line.

But “7 marketing tools that will make you feel like you hired a team of 7 VAs” will probably get more opens.

2) Urgency

If you’re sending a sequence promoting a product, one of the emails might leverage urgency in the subject line. This might move the needle of prospects hesitant to act. But don’t abuse it, and make sure the urgency is real.

3) Curiosity

Subject lines that push your audience to read the whole message can make for big sales!

Example: “We have a special offer for you”

4) Questions

Our brains are hard-wired to respond to questions.

For example:

“Are you prepared for the next Google Core Update?”

5) Discount and offers

When your audience is already aware of your products and they just need a final push, being straightforward and including an offer in the subject line will get opens.

For better results, combine this with urgency.

Discounting an order and making it valid within a limited timeframe will help open rates for on-the-fence customers.

6) Personalized

Every now and then, you can use the name of the recipient in the subject line. However, do not overuse this practice. People largely understand that it’s automated anyway.

7) Stories

Share a transformational story with your audience. Some examples are:

  • Rags to riches
  • A great discovery
  • How someone achieved something great
  • Case studies

For example, if you’re marketing an SEO product, let users in on a story of how someone increased their traffic from 10,000 visitors per month to 230,000 visitors per month on a limited budget.

That enables you to tell the story while showing the features of the product.

8) Break up your subject line and preheader

In the world of subject lines, there are very few hard-and-fast rules.

But this is another tactic you can use to increase your open rate.

Here’s one that can work well:

Write a catchy sentence, then break it up into your subject line and preheader.

If you’re not familiar, the term “preheader” refers to the preview text that you see before you open an email.

Two examples of what we mean:

  • 7 copywriting secrets (subject line) that’ll help you make more sales (preheader).
  • They didn’t believe me (subject line) until I showed them this… (preheader).
Why this works

By treating your subject line and preheader like a single headline, you create a natural reading flow that can pull subscribers into your email.

It’s a fun tactic for writing concise, clear subject lines that give your audience a reason to read.

And on a practical note, we’ve found that long subject lines tend to perform worse than shorter ones.

So, if you have a longer subject line, you can try splitting it between the subject line and preheader.

There are dozens of theories about how to write subject lines, and you’ll see success with completely different approaches.

Different approaches work for different brands and people, but it’s worth testing everything until you find what works best for you.

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