July Email Subject Line Inspiration

10 Great Subject Line Inspiration Ideas: Why They Work

There’s nothing like an effective, thoughtfully-worded subject line to make us beam with pride. An email’s inbox display is a mammoth to tackle, let alone the following content. We thought it fitting to get your creative juices flowing this month with some top-shelf subject line inspiration.

This element of email is small but mighty. As many as 47% of email users say an email’s subject line determines whether or not they’ll open it.

We’ll explore ten great email subject lines to inspire you for your next email marketing campaign and to boost your open rates.

Subject line inspiration from 10 smart brands

Since teaming up with the subject line experts at Phrasee to learn the secret sauce behind the best subject lines, we’ve been looking for some prime examples out in the inbox wild. Check out our top pick of the ten best email subject lines to boost your marketing strategy. We’ll cover the following scenarios:

  1. Cancellation email
  2. Welcome email
  3. Webinar announcement
  4. Thank you email
  5. Announcement email
  6. Onboarding email
  7. Legal/privacy update email
  8. Apology email
  9. Purchase confirmation email
  10. New product email

Let’s dig in!

1. Show you care – even if they’re leaving

Subject line: Share your thoughts?

What we liked: Obviously, it hurts when someone unsubscribes or cancels their account. That’s why we love Cometteer’s approach subject line for their cancellation confirmation email. They don’t take themselves too seriously and show they want feedback even though a less-than-stellar user experience caused their reader to unsubscribe:

2. Send a tailored welcome email

Subject line: Welcome to Your Tailored Bathroom.

What we liked: Make a good first impression and snag your reader’s attention. Good subject lines give your email recipient an idea of the email content while also inviting them to open the email in the first place.

While most brands use a “Welcome to [company name]” subject line for their first welcome email, Hawthorne took a different approach. They lightly remind new subscribers who they are and what they do while piquing interest in the inbox. The subject line is cleverly obscure for readers unfamiliar with the brand and begs them to open the email to see what their “tailored bathroom” looks like, or rather what even is a “tailored bathroom”? Check it out:

Hawthorne's welcome email example

3. Drive webinar signups with a personal appeal

Subject line: What if you could launch products 12x faster?

What we liked: This webinar subject line from Asana was particularly impressive. Webinars aren’t the sexiest things, making them difficult to drum up excitement for. Nonetheless, they’re a great opportunity to give detailed walkthroughs of how to use your products and platform.

People are protective of their time and probably receive a steady stream of webinar invites. How do you position yours as worth readers’ precious time?

Instead of using the subject line to announce the webinar, Asana put the value proposition front and center. They inform email subscribers exactly what they’re going to get from opening this email (aka: by signing up for the webinar), and they phrase it, so it's likely to hit a sweet spot with their business-minded user base. Talk about making it personal:

Asana's webinar announcement email example

4. Infuse thank you emails with self-awareness

Subject line: Not A Marketing Email.

What we liked: We’ll be honest, our gut reaction to this subject line was, “Is this sarcasm?” It’s not, but even if it was, we’d still open it to find out.

If this isn’t a marketing email from Brooklinen, then what is it? Turns out it’s a simple, genuine thank you note. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally sending your customers an extra expression of gratitude.

Brooklinen knows you can never go wrong with a little self-awareness. Subscribers already know they’re being sent ecommerce emails from their favorite brands. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your audience and catch them off guard from time to time to keep them engaged and excited about your emails:

Brooklinen's thank-you email example

5. Show your caring side in a product announcement email

Subject line: Forget something in your last box?

What we liked: New product or service announcements are some of the highest-stakes emails brands send. It’s your first chance to unveil what you’ve been working on and excite your subscribers.

Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based shaving and hygiene company, highlighted a customer pain point (forgetting to add a product before their auto-shipment) as a lead-in to their announcement of instant shipments.

Identifying a customer pain point in the subject line is risky, so it needs to be intentionally and carefully worded. If done right, it’s the perfect segue into a product or service announcement that’ll make the pain point disappear:

Dollar Shave Club's new offering announcement

6. Lighten onboarding emails to keep readers engaged

Subject line: Superpowers when you shop online.

What we liked: We just really, really love it when brands in typically dry-toned industries add a little levity to their email marketing.

Instead of sounding like this email is coming from their legal department, Privacy lets everyone know they don’t take themselves too seriously. They understand there’s a human on the other side of this email, not a robot. This allows them to keep an approachable tone of voice and resonate with subscribers.

They also get bonus points for the line “Order from sketchy sites with confidence” in their email:

Privacy's onboarding email example

7. Keep the legalese on-brand (and fun)

Subject line: Under-appreciated but important legalese awaits inside.

What we liked: Every brand is bound to send out privacy updates at some point. But let’s be real. Has seeing “Updates to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service” ever gotten you excited?

Just because your email is serious doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your brand voice in the subject line. Simple’s approach is very honest yet still optimistic in tone, spelling out what we’re all thinking when we see a privacy update email:

Simple's legal email example

8. Make apologies authentic but light and on-brand

Subject line: Oops: Someone Hadn’t Had Their Coffee Yet This Morning

What we liked: We all make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes warrant an apology or an “our bad” email. It happens, and the best thing you can do is keep it lighthearted for your audience. Whatever the reason for an apology email, it’s only as bad as you make it out to be in your communication (unless, you know, identities got stolen, then that’s pretty bad).

FilterEasy doesn’t break character for anything, not even an accidental deployment. The “oops” keeps the tone playful while they let you know, in an on-brand way, they made a mistake.

We’ll be right back while we reach out to FilterEasy to help them effectively check their email content and never have to send another apology email again. (Just kidding – or are we?)

Take notes. This is how to keep things light even when you make a mistake:

FilterEasy's apology email example

9. Confirm order and say “thank you” in a meaningful way

Subject line: You Did Good

What we liked: Ilia stays on-brand with its message of doing good for the environment and using better products for your skin. We like the play on words and the feel-good vibes we get from just three simple words. This well-crafted thank you email says “thank you” without saying thank you. Sneaky!

Ilia order confirmation email

10. Bait and switch – in a cheeky way!

Subject line: Username: NEW 💪 Password: GEAR 💪

What we liked: Okay, we know that bait-and-switch is the last thing you want to hear associated with your digital marketing campaign, but check out this cheeky subject line from Strong by Zumba. Strong plays with the look of a password-reset email guaranteed to stand out in inboxes but packs in a full email of new product announcements. And, just in case they don’t stand out, they’ve added emojis to create an eye-catching effect. However, remember to use emojis in moderation since too many smiley faces can be spammy and trigger a spam filter.

Moreover, the play on username and password also creates an air of exclusivity – snag more email opens by tapping into your reader’s fear of missing out (FOMO). We know we’re getting played, but we’re not even mad!

We don’t think this is a good trick to play more than once, but if cheekiness is on-brand, we say go for it:

Strong email with cheeky subject line inspiration

Show us your favorite subject lines!

We know you have them. Spread the love and creativity, and share your favorite email subject line examples with us in the comments below or on our social media. These can be from brands you subscribe to or even top performers from your own brand – we’re not picky.

Everyone knows a killer subject line increases your email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Ensure you preview all your emails across various email clients and mobile devices with our Campaign Precheck tool to optimize your emails for higher open rates and deliverability. Now you’re ready to blast your email list with perfect emails with subject lines readers can’t resist.

This blog post was updated on September 2, 2022. It was first published in August of 2019.

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