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100 Inspiring
Subject Lines
and B2C Subject Line Trends since 2006

@chadswhite
Chad White
Principal of Marketing Research
Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud
@chadswhite
The most effective subject lines are
straightforward and predispose openers
to engage with the content of an email.

Howev...
You may not have a fantastic deal to tout.
Creative language can differentiate nonpromotional from sales-oriented messages...
Whatever your reason, creativity in less
than half the length of a tweet can give
your emails the edge—especially when
you...
To get your creative juices flowing, here are
our picks for some of the most inspiring
subject lines since 2006, along wit...
2006
Pre-dating the launch of the first iPhone, in 2006
subject line writing was geared toward desktop email
clients, whic...
FTD, 10/10/06

1 Tell your boss what you really think
A great tongue-in-creek double-meaning sets up this
email promoting ...
RedEnvelope, 10/3/06

2 Vhat vould Dracula vear?
An engaging question, posed in Dracula’s trademark
diction, introduces th...
Sharper Image, 10/13/06

3 Oops! Texas isn’t THAT big! Save
$20 anywhere.
After sending their entire list an offer for $20...
REI, 10/27/06

4 Coming Soon: SNOW! See REI's new
winter gear now.
This subject line borrows the “coming soon” language of...
Harry & David, 12/5/06

5 We've got the Pears ... who really
wants the partridge or tree?
Promoting Harry & David’s Royal ...
Abercrombie & Fitch, 11/2/06

6 Get it on. Our warmest, softest
fleece... Abercrombie.com
The “get it on” pun is a perfect...
Avon, 12/7/06

7 FREE Shipping with ANY Order, plus
Holiday SAVINGS on Kisses
The subject line for this email promoting li...
2007
The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007.
As mobile reading of emails has grown, the
recommended subject line l...
RedEnvelope, 5/11/07

8 Shop now for Mother's Day or pay
until 2008.
RedEnvelope takes the familiar “pay nothing until…”
l...
RadioShack, 10/28/07

9 The holidays are just around the
corner. Fortunately, so are we.
At a time when most emails from r...
Gap, 10/24/07

10 Can the Shirt off Your Back Change
the World?
Putting a spin on “I’d give you the shirt off my back,” Ga...
RedEnvelope, 6/4/07

11 Why man discovered fire.
This subject line uses one manly archetype—Neanderthals—
to promote anoth...
Crate & Barrel, 10/22/07

12 What holiday tables are
wearing...plus Free Shipping
Using a little personification, Crate & ...
Urban Outfitters, 11/23/07

13 Step away from the leftovers: Free
Shipping Ends Monday!
A mix between an intervention and ...
RedEnvelope, 2/12/07

14 Express Love
Two words and one nice double-meaning are used in the
subject line for this email, w...
2008
Surging gas prices were making headlines and
brands mentioned them in their subject lines to
convince subscribers to ...
TigerDirect, 6/4/08

15 Over 150 Gallons of Savings from
TigerDirect - See How...
With gas prices dominating the news and ...
Toys “R” Us, 6/27/08

16 Save $10 on Stay-cation Shopping!
Demonstrating that Toys “R” Us was tuned into consumer
sentimen...
AbeBooks, 5/28/08

17 Birthday. Happy birthday. Celebrating
a New James Bond Release
Riffing on how James Bond introduces ...
Norm Thompson, 1/11/08

18 Fan mail for socks? Yes! And that's
not all...
Product reviews were superhot at the time and th...
Sephora, 12/3/08

19 10 ways to kiss
Promoting their top 10 lip gloss gift sets, this subject line
could easily be a headl...
Urban Outfitters, 12/11/08

20 You lost. Will 15% off make it better?
Matter of fact, perhaps a little shocking, and defin...
Bluefly, 10/23/08

21 Rock the Coat
Tapping into election interest, this pithy subject line puns
on the familiar “Rock the...
Finish Line, 6/2/08

22 Selling Your Sole Can Be A Good
Thing!
Some people probably did a double-take on this subject
line...
RedEnvelope, 4/29/08

23 She's like a mom to you. Treat her
special this Mother's Day.
RedEnvelope tries to broaden the sc...
AbeBooks, 8/8/08

24 Crisis at the Olympics
Sent on day 1 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, this
email was very topical a...
2009
Promo codes started appearing in subject
lines, allowing subscribers to get their discount
without even opening the e...
JCPenney, 11/8/09

25 Want Free Shipping? Use Promo
Code 49SANTA At JCP.com!
What’s in it for me? How do I get it? Where d...
L.L. Bean, 2/3/09

26 "Is it really wrong to love a
doormat?"
With Valentine’s Day top of mind, this testimonial subject
l...
Neiman Marcus, 8/30/09

27 Piranhas, chihuahuas, and fashion!
Meet Leyendecker
The power of threes meets weird in this sub...
Gap, 10/19/09

28 Bring This Email to a Gap Store and
Win, Starting 10/19
Now even easier and more common in the age of
sm...
NikeStore, 8/13/09

29 Actually, It Is Rocket Science
Nike creates intrigue with this nice twist on “It’s not
rocket scien...
AbeBooks, 1/19/09

30 Join the Barack Obama Book Club
Piggybacking on the Oprah Book Club, AbeBooks creates
an unofficial ...
Sephora, 11/17/09

31 Gift Tip: Separate these sets into
multiple gifts
With the Great Recession underway, this subject li...
Victoria’s Secret, 12/19/09

32 Fantasy No. 339...
With a nod to erotica fiction, Victoria’s Secret sent several
emails th...
AbeBooks, 7/10/09

33 Size Does Matter. The Longest
Novels.
Channeling the spam subject lines of old, AbeBooks grabs
your ...
Staples, 10/9/09

34 Save like it's 1492!
Staples put a fun Columbus Day twist on the
saying, “Party like it’s 1999.”

CLI...
2010
The growing adoption of iPhones and Gmail ushered
in the rise of preheader text as a “second subject
line,” since tho...
GameStop, 3/9/10

35 We know when Tiger is coming back.
Tapping into the endless speculation about when Tiger
Woods would ...
J&R, 12/17/10

36 Free Shipping DAY? People Puhleeze, We
Have Free Shipping All Holiday Season!
Mocking the rise of Free S...
Disney Store, 9/20/10

37 Last Day! Free Shipping Ends at the
Stroke of Midnight!
The allusion to Cinderella turns a munda...
Victoria’s Secret, 3/29/10

38 Get Naked: Tomorrow at Victoria's
Secret.
A nudist event tomorrow at VS stores? Nope. They ...
Kohl’s, 8/11/10

39 We still have all this money to give
away.
Appealing to subscribers’ self-interest, Kohl’s uses this
s...
The Company Store, 6/7/10

40 Get Fresh...in bed
The Company Store uses the “…in bed” fortune cookie joke
in their subject...
Disney Store, 3/17/10

41 Spell Your Name & Save Up to 30%
on Tees!
Hey, I know how to spell my name. Gimme that discount!...
Ralph Lauren, 2/2/10

42 Just In: The Official U.S. Olympic
Opening Ceremony Uniform
As the official outfitter of U.S. Oly...
Eddie Bauer, 2/8/10

43 90 Years in Seattle - We Know Rain!
Eddie Bauer leverages the rainy reputation of their
hometown i...
Uncommon Goods, 2/7/10

44 "Print. Cut. Lock the door."
The instructions in this subject line are like a minimystery. All ...
GameStop, 2/9/10

45 Aliens, Predators & Humans play
lethal Rock, Paper, Scissors
Triples, symmetry and humor—what more co...
Disney Store, 2/10/10

46 Alice is Here! Open Me!
While subject lines often implore subscribers to “open” or
look for “det...
Frederick’s of Hollywood, 5/5/10

47 What sexy essential did we introduce?
Find out with free shipping..
This subject line...
Barnes & Noble, 6/3/10

48 Book your summer getaway here.
Save 10% on first class reading.
Figurative language bookended b...
Toys “R” Us, 5/17/10

49 Grad Gifts for Scholars of ANY Age!
View our favorites
High school and college graduation gifts a...
2011
Some thought subject lines would decrease in
importance because of the late 2010 debut of
Facebook Messages, which do...
LinkedIn, 1/13/11

50 Chad, 118 of your connections
changed jobs in 2010.
A sign that personalization was moving beyond fi...
FetchDog, 8/9/11

51 Add more fun to your walks with Suki
Had this subject line said, “with your dog,” it wouldn’t
have be...
Urban Outfitters, 1/31/11

52 XOUO
Inserting their brand’s initials into the common
expression of affection “XOXO” for thi...
Bed Bath & Beyond, 10/10/11

53 Shop here. Get your face licked.
This subject line sounds a little gross or kinky (dependi...
Lands’ End, 6/8/11

54 Starfish: you named it. You bought
every last pair. We made more.
The subject line for this email—w...
Frederick’s of Hollywood, 5/4/11

55 What bra sold 10,000 after being
seen on the Today Show yesterday?
Using consumer act...
Brookstone, 10/25/11

56 Forget about daylight savings
While others were reminding subscribers to set their clocks
back, B...
Foot Locker, 6/8/11

57 Dads: This Email is Not For
You, Please Forward It To Your
Family.
The forwarding request in this ...
J. Jill, 8/31/11

58 Additional 30% off sale + free shipping. Our
power may still be out, but our sale is ON!
Sent in the ...
HP, 7/18/11

59 Check your next email on this: the
HP Tablet!
This subject line engages recipients by referring to what
th...
Lowe’s, 12/14/11

60 Build Your Own North Pole. Save up
to 50% on Tools
This subject line is both festive and aspirational...
Williams-Sonoma, 6/6/11

61 Top 5 Gifts Selected by the Dads of
Williams-Sonoma
Part of the then-emerging trend of brands ...
Lands’ End, 12/21/11

62 Christmas delivery with express shipping
- on Dasher, on Dancer, on Procrastinator
Lands’ End mak...
Target, 1/30/11

63 Baby Sale: Sweet wittle pwices.
Target uses some baby talk in this subject
line, betting in part that ...
J.Crew, 4/2/11

64 perfect for party hopping (plus, free
shipping)
Although they don’t mention Easter by name, the “hoppin...
Victoria’s Secret, 4/14/11

65 Yours, All Ways...
With just three short words, this is a wonderfully
suggestive subject li...
Bed Bath & Beyond, 5/10/11

66 Hold your breath until you see this.
The language they use to build intrigue in this subjec...
Dell, 9/23/11

67 You know it's time to upgrade to a
new PC when...
With Dell channeling a little Jeff Foxworthy, this sub...
Helzberg Diamonds, 8/17/11

68 This free bracelet has your name
on it.
The subject line leaves you wondering if they’re ma...
2012
Special characters like hearts and stars started
appearing in subject lines early in the year.
Overall, roughly 1% of...
Avaaz.org, 12/10/12

69 They want to ██████ the Internet
To support their rallying cry against internet
censorship, this p...
Neiman Marcus, 11/12/12

70

shoes for a well-rounded
wardrobe

The special character in the subject line is mimicked in t...
eBags, 11/18/12

71 The best gifts are opened again and
again and again.
This subject line is seasonal, intriguing and won...
Lowe’s, 11/23/12

72 Just Woke Up? Already Out? Swing
By -- Stores Open at 5 a.m.
Sent as the sun was coming up, this subj...
Barnes & Noble, 1/29/12

73 Pop Quiz! What City is Home to the
Most Angry Bird Players on NOOK?
Tapping into people’s city...
Lowe’s, 6/1/12

74 Meet Tom -- He Learned the Hard Way
Like an email of introduction, this subject line engages
subscriber...
Lane Bryant, 9/28/12

75 Help Fight Breast Cancer & Show
The Girls You Care
The tongue-in-check “girls” pun in the subject...
ThinkGeek, 6/21/12

76 ThinkGeek hides $100 in your 525
Geek Points update
As an extra incentive to get loyalty program me...
Wayfair, 6/11/12

77 Reward the one who never judges
you. Top dog & cat supplies
With this email arriving not coincidental...
Lands’ End, 2/14/12

78 Dear Lands' End: A Valentine from
Arlene D.
This subject line makes it clear this message is actua...
Dell, 9/11/12

79 Inspiron 15 - $499.99 for the first
1000 customers with this coupon.
While limited-time offers are commo...
Warby Parker, 12/27/12

80 Time to use your flex spending
account!
Acting like the helpful year-end “use it or lose it” re...
2013
Hashtags in subject lines went mainstream. Their
inclusion often drives social conversation at the
expense of decreas...
Feeding America, 12/3/13

81 How will you give back?
#GivingTuesday
As much about starting a conversation as about driving...
Jeep, 9/5/13

82

||||||| Your Jeep newsletter is here.

Using special characters, Jeep creates a very good
representation...
Vizify, 10/3/13

83 Your bio's been updated. View what's
new.
This subject line starts off using common update
confirmatio...
JCPenney, 1/2013

84 Glad You’re Here--Just Open to
Confirm
Something short of the standard double opt-in that
requires a ...
ThinkGeek, 1/23/13

85 ThinkGeek's roses are
#FF0000, violets are #0000FF...
Geeking up the staid “roses are red, violets ...
Kiva, 10/10/13

86 $62.14
Using money and minimalism to create intrigue, the
micro-loan company included the balance for t...
Moosejaw, 12/6/13

87 You have $37.90 in Moosejaw
Rewards Points Waiting to be Spent
You’re more likely to shop where you ...
NFLshop, 9/29/13

88 Your Patriots Are 4-0! Plus, Free
Shipping on All Patriots Gear
Knowing that team pride helps drive s...
Carnival Cruise Lines, 1/2013

89 Chad, your vacation fun starts at
$249 (email 1 of 5)
The first email in this 5-email we...
Vera Bradley, 7/1/13

90 Summer checklist:

Sarong

Beach Towel...
Tapping into people’s love of checklists, this subject ...
Delta Air Lines, 4/1/13

91

Register.
Spend $50 dining.
Earn 150 miles.

In addition to creating a simple 1-2-3 list, the...
Vera Bradley, 8/14/13

92 Q. Best accessory? a) lanyards b)
IDs c) wristlets ...
To set the right back-to-school tone, thi...
Moosejaw, 1/7/13

93 It worked for Obama...
Topical since it was sent shortly before President Obama’s
inauguration, this ...
ModCloth, 8/29/13

94 FLOTUS-worthy frocks.
In addition to capitalizing on Michelle Obama’s
popularity, this subject line ...
Etsy, 3/16/13

95 ROYGBIV
Using the mystery and insiderness of a nonword
acronym, this subject line refers to the color sp...
JCPenney, 11/13/13

96 Pinterest faves for your home for 2050% off!
More aspirational and positive than the post-purchase
...
Gap, 4/29/13

97 1 dress, 4 ways to wear it
This subject line promises context for the dress it
promotes. Even if subscrib...
ThinkGeek, 7/31/13

98 We solemnly swear we are up to no
good...
Using a quote from the Harry Potter books, this subject
l...
Wine.com, 12/4/13

99 And our #1 wine is… The Wine.com
100 is here!
More evidence that retailers are finding success with ...
Moosejaw, 11/13/13

100 We lied last time. THESE are the best

Moosejaw jackets ever.
Sounding like a confession, this sub...
We hope these examples have inspired you
to look for your own creative subject line
opportunities.
Remember that…
Content filtering now plays a minor role in
deliverability at major ISPs, so don’t be
afraid to use:
•
•
•
•

punctuation ...
We encourage you to run subject line tests
routinely to discover which approaches
and wordings your subscribers respond to...
Good luck!
Did you enjoy our 100 Inspiring Subject Lines?
If so, please tell a friend or colleague about it.

CLICK TO TWE...
METHODOLOGY:

Subject lines were selected based on their
innovativeness, uniqueness and excellence
as an example of an imp...
SOURCES:

All subject lines were collected as a part of
ExactTarget Marketing Cloud research into
subject line trends usin...
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Staples, 10/9/09 34 Save like 100 Inspiring Email Subject Lines

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Staples, 10/9/09

34 Save like it's 1492!
Staples put a fun Columbus Day twist on the
saying, “Party like it’s 1999.”

CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #34 from @ExactTarget’s
100 Inspiring Subject Lines: extg.co/100SubjLines What’s your favorite?

Published in: Marketing, Technology, Business
  • Hello! Get Your Professional Job-Winning Resume Here - Check our website! https://vk.cc/818RFv
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  • Appreciating the commitment you put into your site and detailed information you offer, but when i actually tried to code my own email template using all the information given above i was unable to do it and after trying it for few hours i ended up with a messed up design which was not working good in email platforms as well. Then i google a bit and found an awesome website called http://www.TemplateBhai.com From there i downloaded 2 free templates, well coded and even i was having PSD to make the changes in original banners. I literally executed the campaign in less than 15 minutes. Its heaven for marketers.
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  • Good list.
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  • Great compilation of subject lines, what really comes across is how striking subject lines from 2008 still sound in 2014.
    The interesting question is whether subject lines we like from a creative standpoint are truly successful and if there's a strong link between subject lines that sound great and subject lines that deliver opens and clicks. A/B testing lets us explore this question, but it takes time and often by the time a statistically significant result is achieved, the offer has expired, the product is out of stock or business need has changed. That's why we developed Touchstone, a tool that compares your proposed subject line with a database of 110,000 (and growing) database of other subject lines and results. It can predict open and click rates for a given subject line before you send anything so we'd recommend anyone with an interest in this area gives it a try - it is currently in open beta and free to beta users, try Touchstone at www.subjectlinegold.com
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  • Got quite a few good tips from this article. Thanks for sharing.
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