If you want to sell stuff online, you need an email list. Not only can email marketing produces $38 in ROI for every $1 you spend on campaigns but it also offers greater reach than any other channel — over 100 billion emails are sent every day.

This article was previously published on MaxWeb blog.

Most of those emails will never be read. Many never get the chance to be read, as email service providers learn to better filter out spam and fraud day after day. But landing in the inbox is far from a slam dunk. Right now, I have three Gmail accounts open. Each account has over 1,000 unread emails moldering away, waiting to be deleted.

I need to get better at managing my inbox. But email marketers need to get better at writing emails, too… starting with their subject lines.

Did you know that 47% of email users will decide whether or not to open an email based on their subject lines alone? On the other hand, 69% of email users will flag something as spam based on the subject line. Crafting a great email subject line can be a balancing act. If it’s boring, it’s easy to ignore. If it’s too demanding or eager, it’s easy to dismiss as spam.

Let’s walk that tightrope between dull and disagreeable to find at least 25 great examples of email marketing subject lines. Great email subject lines are often quite general and flexible. You’ll be able to adapt them to promote affiliate offers in any niche, to any target audience.

But first, a note on subject line best practices…

The average white-collar worker gets at least 121 emails every day. Getting your email read requires competing against dozens of other email marketers of varying skill levels. Want to stand out and get your emails read? Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when crafting your subject lines…

  • An email with 6-10 word subject lines has the highest open rate (21%).
  • 82% of email marketers prefer subject lines of 60 characters or less.
  • Most mobile email clients cut off subject lines after 33-43 characters.
  • Emojis in subject lines can boost email open rates by up to 45%.
  • Only 7% of email subject lines use emojis.
  • “Preheaders” (content previews) can boost email opens by 7%.
  • Preheaders should use no more than 100 characters.

Personalized subject lines

Personalization works. Using a recipient’s name in your subject line can improve your open rates by up to 50%! Here are a few personalized email subject lines we’ve seen that were particularly interesting:

  • 1. Anna, you don’t want to miss this… (ColourPop Cosmetics)
  • 2. Hey Anna, we picked these for you! (Fabletics)
  • 3. Seen something you liked, Anna? (Esqido)
  • 4. 1 DAY ONLY just for you, Anna! (American Eagle)
  • 5. Hey Anna, ready for some Disney magic? (Torrid)
  • 6. We’d love your feedback, Anna! (Joybird)
  • 7. 😏 Anna – ready to move a few stubborn LBS?! 😏 (Flat Tummy Co)
  • 8. Anna! A Free Birchbox for You When You Gift (Birchbox)

Urgency-based / FOMO subject lines

An urgency-based or FOMO (fear of missing out) email is what it sounds like — you’re offering your readers one final opportunity to get something before it’s gone forever.

This type of subject line can be very effective. However, it’s easy to fall into “boy who cried wolf” territory by overusing FOMO-style subject lines when you don’t really mean it. Don’t bust out a FOMO subject line unless you plan to follow through.

Here are some FOMO subject lines we like:

  • 9. Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring (Warby Parker)
  • 10. You’re missing out on points. (JetBlue)
  • 11. [URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to watch this… (Digital Marketer)
  • 12. Clock’s ticking ⏲ 50% OFF 500+ items (Urban Outfitters)
  • 13. BOGO free clearance is over in 5…4…3… (Torrid)
  • 14. Buy One Get One Free OR ELSE (ThinkGeek)
  • 15. Anna, Earn double points today only (Jersey Mike’s Subs)
  • 16. 🐶 Want a Custom Emoji of Tullamore & 6 Months FREE Walks? Book a Walk Today for Your Chance to Win! (Wag!)

Social proof subject lines

People are more likely to trust you if their friends and family already trust you.

The prevalence of review sites has expanded that circle of trust somewhat, to the point where we’re willing to trust the opinions of total strangers if enough of them are saying the same thing about a product or service.

The prevalence of micro-celebrities and influencers has also made it easier to name-drop people your audience might know and trust, even if the general population has never heard of them. Of course, name-dropping big celebrities and world-famous brands can also help drive interest, if those dropped names work for your goals.

Here are a few subject lines that leverage the power of social proof to generate tons of interest:

  • 17. Google sees smartphone heroics in Oreo. (TechCrunch)
  • 18. Fans are getting REAL about the new Studio Fix Stick 👀 (MAC Cosmetics)
  • 19. Guess what Olivia Buckland is wearing? 👀🔥 (Beauty Bay)
  • 20. Find Out Why This Fave Is Sold Every 10 Secs… (Origins)
  • 21. Ryan Deiss is FAKE (Digital Marketer)
  • 22. snag Billy Gene’s step-by-step video ad formula? (Billy Gene is Marketing)

Humorous/funny subject lines

My dad always said laughter is the best medicine. He stopped saying that after five of us died of tuberculosis, but I still think it’s true.

Good comedy gets noticed. Bad jokes can backfire. If you’re trying to be funny with your subject lines, it’s extra important to test your ideas with real people before sending them out to your list.

Here are a few funny subject lines that won us over:

  • 23. You Doughn’t Want to Miss Out on This Pair! 🍪 (Sock Fancy)
  • 24. We Like Being Used (The Muse)
  • 25. NEW! Vacation on Mars (Gozengo)
  • 26. Licking your phone never tasted so good (OpenTable)
  • 27. Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve) (Groupon)
  • 28. Get in Our Pants (Fashion to Figure)

Promotional (to-the-point) subject lines

People generally expect you to sell them something when they click on a promotional email. Sometimes, the best way to drive conversions is to meet expectations in a clear, direct way. If your offer is strong, and your promotion compelling, it shouldn’t need much dressing up in your email subject.

Here are a few great examples of direct promotional subject lines:

  • 29. Yes, this is a fundraising email (Al Franken)
  • 30. ONLY $19.99 (or less) for all of THIS? (Urban Outfitters)
  • 31. Best coat ever (AYR)
  • 32. 2.3 Billion leads for $7 (Digital Marketer)
  • 33. 👗 Free (Cool!) Clothes Alert 👖 (Clover)
  • 34. 1,750 points for you. Valentine’s flowers & more for them. (JetBlue)
  • 35. 💡 THIS SALE IS LIT 💡 20% off all lighting (West Elm)

List- or number-focused subject lines

Many earlier examples used numbers effectively, but there’s a major difference between listing your available prices and leading with data.

Data-driven subject lines are often used to promote an indirect benefit, such as a blog post or whitepaper full of information. If you support your affiliate offers with detailed blog posts or product reviews, a subject line with an eye-popping statistic can draw plenty of clicks.

Here are a few number-focused subject lines you can use for inspiration:

  • 36. 10 bizarre money habits making Millennials richer (Refinery29)
  • 37. 9 Disgusting Facts about Thanksgiving (Eat This Not That)
  • 38. Try To Avoid These 27 People On New Year’s Eve (Thrillist)
  • 39. Anna, are you part of the 41%? (Digital Marketer)
  • 40. How 35 influencers grew their sites from 0-10K visitors (Sumo)

Ready to send?

A great subject line can help you push past the crowd of boring and desperate-sounding emails in everyone’s inboxes. But subject lines alone won’t make you rich.

A marketing email or email campaign is just one cog in the machinery of your affiliate efforts. To succeed, you’ll need to connect your email efforts to many other digital assets, such as a regularly updated blog, Facebook ads or other paid traffic networks, and a thriving social media presence. But once these pieces are moving together, your hard work can be rewarded with long-term streams of passive income.

If you’re looking for an affiliate network that helps you make more predictable revenue more often, you might want to consider MaxWeb. We’re currently the #1 fastest-growing affiliate network, and we specialize in maximizing results for both affiliates and advertisers. No exaggeration. We focus on carrying only the best offers and provide maximum commissions—you’ll get payouts up to 3 times a week.

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