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The 7 Best Styles of Subject Lines

Email marketing campaigns are one of the best ways to build your customer base, keep them engaged, and make sales. But if you don’t know how to write effective email campaigns, you won’t reap the benefits. One of the most important aspects of emails is the subject line. It is what gets the reader to open the email instead of deleting it, and it can be the tool that gets you a new customer.  

So, it’s your job to figure out how to write subject lines that actually get your customer to open the email. If you’re like us, you get hundreds of emails a week and don’t have time to open all of them. That’s why you need to know which subject lines work and which do not. Luckily, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to write email subject lines that boost your open rate. 

There are a variety of types of subject lines you can choose from. Some brands prefer to be shocking, while some are always straightforward. The style you choose is dependent on your brand, your audience’s trends, and your preference. The most common and effective types of subjects are: 

  • Humorous
  • Shocking 
  • Time-sensitive
  • Simple & Straightforward
  • Questions
  • Numbers & Lists
  • Personalized 


If done well, humor is a great way to catch someone’s eye and get them to open your email. If you want to try out a funny subject line, make sure that you know your audience well. Humor is subjective, so not everyone will respond in the same way to a joke. Carefully craft your email subject to make your specific audience pause, laugh, and open the email. 

Examples of Humorous Subject Lines:

  • OpenTable: “Licking your phone never tasted so good”
  • The Muse: “We Like Being Used”
  • Baby Bump: “Yes, I’m Pregnant. You Can Stop Staring At My Belly Now.”


No doubt, the shocking subject line is a popular route to take. Attention grabbers are a great way to get your reader to pause and do a double take. The goal is for that pause to be the driver in convincing them to open the email. Like the humorous email, shocking email subject lines must be carefully written and tailored to your audience. 

Examples of Shocking Subject Lines:

  • Why Your 5-Year Old Knows More About Coding Than You 
  • Your strategy is all wrong. Here’s why. 
  • Have you decided to give up on your dreams?


An easy way to get people’s attention is to write a time-sensitive email subject line. Not only does the parameter make them stop, but it also makes them feel like they might miss out on something if they don’t act now. FOMO (fear of missing out) is an effective driver of decision-making, and you can use it to your advantage in your email campaigns. 

Examples of Time-Sensitive Subject Lines:

  • [URGENT] You have one day left to get 50% off…
  • Tonight only: … 
  • Our sale ends in 24 hours! … 

Bonus tip: Time-sensitive subject lines are great for abandoned cart campaigns.

Simple & Straightforward

Perhaps one of the most effective ways to write subject lines is to be simple and straightforward. This style of writing is great for getting straight to the point and being informative. They keep it clear and concise and give your audience an indicator of what’ll be in the email. Even more, they tend to perform well and have some of the highest open rates (between 60 to 87 percent!). 

Examples of Simple & Straightforward Subject Lines:

  • Your [company name] order is ready
  • [Company name] Monthly Newsletter — June 2020
  • [Company Name] Invites You to a Free Webinar on Marketing 


While you don’t want too much punctuation in your subject lines, questions are a great way to write both catchy and effective subject lines. Questions are a powerful way to engage your reader. When they see your question, they subconsciously answer it. If crafted properly, your question could get them to open the email.

Examples of Questions in Subject Lines:

  • [Name], are you ready to quit your job and get paid to eat?
  • Rough day? [Company name] can make it better. 
  • Spirit: Need to travel? We’re with you.


Similar to the straightforward approach, numbers are a simple and effective way to write email subject lines. People are drawn to numbers, which is why you’ll often see them in blog post titles and email subject lines. Using them is an easy way to talk about the topic of your email in the subject line without feeling boring or uncreative. 

Examples of Numbers in Subject Lines:

  • 7 Easy Ways to Increase Your Sales Today 
  • The 5 Tricks You Need to Know About Social Media Marketing
  • Avoid These 10 Common Mistakes When Building Your First Website


Last but definitely not least is the personalized subject line. Using names in a subject line is a great way to make your audience feel connected to you and to make them feel like they’re not just a number. Everybody wants to feel cared for, and using someone’s name can demonstrate that you care about them and want to help.  Even more, personalized subject lines get people to pause, which may be all you need to get them to open. 

Examples of Personalized Subject Lines:

  • Robin, are you ready to make a career change?
  • Don’t miss out on this sale, Tom.  You have one more day of 50% off. 
  • Tatiana, check out these hand-picked templates just for you. 

The options for your email subject lines are endless. But before you go and throw in random subject lines, make sure you’ve done your research on what works and what doesn’t. These seven subject lines are proven to have higher open rates than other styles, so give these a try. Make sure you track which ones work best, as effectiveness will vary depending on audience and brand. Good luck and happy emailing!  

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