Struggling to come up with catchy email subject lines that can stand out in a crowded inbox?
You’re not alone.
I bet if you look in your inbox right now, you’ll have 50 emails there from all sorts of people and 95% of them will have boring email subject lines. The type that make you yawn and remind you how much life is better in the real world than in your inbox.
So if you’re having trouble writing really exciting email subject lines, then this is the post for you.
Below, I give you an entire swipe file of 144 email subject line templates you can use today.
These are not your typical subject lines.
In fact, some may even be controversial.
However, they will catch the eye of your subscribers like nothing else, no matter how crowded their inbox is.
So with that said, lets get right into it.
Benefit emails are the bread & butter of any email marketing practice. They can be used for newsletters, direct sales pitches, or anything else you want to send your list.
They work because people are selfish. We only care about ourselves. So if you send out an email that doesn’t explicitly or implicitly say we’re going to get something positive out of it, then why would anyone ever open it?
Good email subject lines are benefit driven.
With that said, it’s very easy to fall into the typical trap of being boring with benefit-driven emails. That’s because they are very straight-forward and basic. Now, while some benefit-driven email subject lines will always be interesting now matter how many times they are used, you will need to spice it up a little for others.
This can be done in a lot of ways.
One is to provoke curiosity. Another is to use a benefit that your target audience really wants. A third is to focus on what people don’t want. A fourth is to use power words or just wordsmith the subject line effectively.
There’s many other things you can do to.
But instead of letting you go at it on your own, here’s 12 benefit-driven email subject lines you can use today to make sure you get it done right.
How To [Desired Result] In [Timeframe]
EX: How to burn fat in 30min/day
What If You [Negative Result]?
EX: What if your conversion rates drop?
[Target Market]! Here’s How To [Desired Result]
EX: Designers! Here’s how to charge premium prices
The Most Common [Topic] Mistakes [Target Market] Make
EX: The most common dating mistakes men make
The Art Of [Topic]
EX: The art of gardening tomatoes
Cool [Topic] Trick [Desired Result]
EX: Cool content marketing trick doubles traffic
The Secret To [Desired Result]
EX: The secret to training your puppy
[Desired Result] Without [Negative Result]
EX: Read faster without forgetting what you read
How To [Desired Result] Even If [Objection]
EX: How to build muscle even if you’re skinny
You, A [Desired Result]?
EX: You, a best selling author?
How To Avoid [Negative Result]
EX: How to avoid burnout
Are You Making These [Topic] Mistakes?
EX: Are you making these cooking mistakes?
Categories To Fill In:
Turn on the news for 10 seconds.
The first thing you’ll probably hear about is something controversial.
Because controversy grabs people’s attention. A good enough controversy can stop anyone in their tracks because it peaks their curiosity.
With email though, you don’t just want to talk about little controversies. You want to talk about big ones. The ones that, if true, would change how people think about a certain topic.
It’s usually delivered in a huge statement.
And depending on the topic, it can be extremely divisive.
Because of this, controversial email subject lines tend to short and straightforward, yet alarming. They encapsulate an emotion about a topic in just a handful of words. And you can tell who’s involved.
What really drives home a controversial email subject line though is the topic. It needs to be a broad topic that you’re either crusading for or against. You’re there to put down the naysayers or to reveal the truth.
To strength relationships with those that agree, repelling everyone who don’t, and persuade those are on the fence to join your side. It’s more about connecting to people on an ideological level as it is about selling.
The Death Of [Topic]
EX: The death of email marketing
The War Against [Topic]
EX: The war against meat eaters
The Great [Topic] Hoax Of [Year]
EX: The great fat loss hoax of 2017
The Truth About [Topic]
EX: The truth about the banking industry
My Problem With [Topic]
EX: My problem with email popups
My Big [Topic] Mistake
EX: My big copywriting mistake
Why I Hate [Topic]
EX: Why I hate social media
The Case Against [Topic]
EX: The case against the gig economy
The [Topic] Conspiracy
EX: The vegan conspiracy
The End Of [Topic]
EX: The end of America
EX: Marketing armageddon
In Defense Of [Controversial Topic]
EX: In defense of crooked politicians
Categories To Fill In:
It’s no surprise that seeing the name of an authority will get the attention of anyone who respects them.
Every market has authorities, experts, or influencers within them. Even sub-niches have them. They will have some kind of audience, a huge amount of trust, and following that really loves them. They can big like Steve Jobs is to entrepreneurship or small(er) like Gary Vaynerchuk is to social media.
It’s not just market-related authorities though.
You can use famous influencers from history like Sun Tzu, Confucius, Nostradamus, Alexander The Great, Julius Ceaser, Benjamin Franklin…etc You can use famous movie heroes like Iron Man, Batman, Harry Potter, and more.
Any influential person, whether real or fictitious counts.
Along with influential people, authority email subject lines also use sources of information like ancient texts or modern documents. A couple of examples of this include the bible, the Vedas, the declaration of independence, and more.
These are naturally compelling since they are important in some way, shape, or form.
To borrow the name of the person or document so you can teach something.
By doing so, you will naturally create a curiosity peaking email subject line. Plus, you will end up writing an email with interesting content since you’re relating “boring” information with an influencer that means something to you.
[Authority’s Name] [Topic] Secret
EX: Harry potters marketing secret
What [Authority Name] Says About [Topic]
EX: What Gary Bencivenga says about sales copy
[Authority’s Name] Forgotten Secret
EX: Benjamin franklin’s dog training secret
[Topic] Tips From [Authority’s Name]
EX: Tennis tips from Roger Federer
[Institution’s Name] [Topic] Secret
EX: Harvard’s college acceptance secret
The [Topic] Secret [Authority’s Name] Almost Took To His Grave
EX: The copywriting secret David Ogilvy almost took to his grave
The [Authority’s Name] Method Of [Topic]
EX: The steve jobs method of public speaking
The [Authority’s Nickname] Best [Topic] Secret
EX: The prince of print’s best copywriting secret
[Topic] Secret Hidden Inside The [Source Of Information]
EX: Muscle building secret hidden inside tomb
Lost [Topic] Tip From The [Source Of Information]
EX: Lost stock trading tip from the bible
[Authority’s Name] Prophecy
EX: Benjamin franklin’s prophecy
[Topic] Secrets From [Authority’s Nickname]
EX: Conversion secrets from the original copyhacker
Categories To Fill In:
[Source Of Information]
Weird emails are just like what name says.
They make sense, but at the same time they don’t. They don’t sound like something a person would put in an email subject line. In fact, they are probably the closest thing to a tabloid headline there is without actually being a tabloid headline.
So why use a weird email subject line?
For the most part, people will be using very standard email subject lines. They aren’t interesting in any way. They are either very neutral or boring in tone.
Now, you may not like weird email subject lines and neither do you have to. However, you can’t really ignore them.
With that said, they aren’t complicated to write.
All you have to do is “push” or exaggerate the emotion of the topic by a bit. You can also just use weird sayings or just say something random, but using the keywords that fit your market.
Again, it doesn’t have to make complete sense like a regular, benefit-driven email subject line will.
It’s more of a zig-zag email subject line.
You zig with one understandable idea, but you zag by positioning it in an unusual way.
Check out the templates below for examples of this.
[Authority’s Name] Shocked By [Unusual Thing]
EX: Gary vaynerchuck shocked by weird facebook ad
The [Topic] Nazi
EX: The texting nazi
[Topic] Lessons From A [Unusual Source]
EX: Graphic design lessons from a talking doll
Crazy [Target Market] [Desired Result]
EX: Crazy cubicle worker gets six pack abs
Encyclopedia Of [Topic] [Monster]
EX: Encyclopedia of copywriting monsters
[Monster] [Topic] Tips
EX: Sasquatch sales tips
[Topic] Secrets Of A(n) [Adjective] [Monster]
EX: Muscle building secrets of a sneaky Sasquatch
Easy Peasy, [Topic] Squeezy
EX: Easy peasy, deadlift squeezy
Crazy [Name] Tries To [Desired Result]
EX: Crazy Dan tries to get ripped
Deranged [Name] Does It Again
EX: Deranged Dan does it again
I Like [Adjective] [Topic] And I Cannot Lie
EX: I like easy recipes and I cannot lie
Warning For [Target Market] From The Future
EX: Warning for baby boomers from the future
Categories To Fill In:
Pop Culture Emails
We all love pop culture.
Celebrities are everywhere and we love to consume anything they make. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book, movie, or song, we’ll take in everything we can get.
It’s also because of these books, movies, and songs that we adopt certain sayings, quotes, or just general ideas. Even if they’re just one-off sentences, we all understand the exact context of that sentence.
And that’s why these type of email subject lines work.
All you have to do is take a popular quote from a books, movie, song, commercial, or anything that’s out there in popular culture and add in your keywords.
The more iconic or ingrained it is in our everyday lives, the better.
Now, not every iconic saying can be used. It obviously still has to make sense when you read it. In fact, it should be similar enough to the original thing that people understand it, but different enough that people “get it” as soon as they read it.
So if you get a chuckle after thinking up of one, then you’re probably headed in the right direction.
Check out these templates and examples to see exactly what I mean.
One [Topic] Book To Rule Them All
EX: One dating book to rule them all
There’s No Crying In [Topic]!
EX: There’s no crying in fitness!
Need For [Topic] Speed
EX: Need for writing speed
Love The Smell Of [Topic] In The Morning
EX: Love the smell of copy in the morning
The First Rule Of [Topic]
EX: The first rule of dog training
Show Me The [Desired Result]!
EX: Show me the sales!
I Will Have My [Noun], In This Email Or The Next
EX: I will have my chocolate, in this email or the next
May The [Topic] Force Be With You
EX: May the fat loss force be with you
Silly Wabbit, [Topic] Is For Kids
EX: Silly wabbit, ecommerce is for kids
[Process To Result]. Or Do Not. There Is No Try
EX: Run. Or do not. There is no try.
You Merely Adopted [Topic]
EX: You merely adopted copywriting
And Thus, The 4th Age Of [Topic] Began
EX: And thus, the 4th age of cooking began
Categories To Fill In:
[Process To Result]
List emails are some of the more standard type of emails you can write.
They are up there with benefit-driven emails in terms of how often people see them.
So why do them?
Because they work.
Having a number upfront is one of the simplest ways to capture someone’s attention. This is especially true if that number is an odd number.
List emails also imply useful information. If you look at the data behind the most viewed types of blog posts, listicables, which is the same thing as a list email subject line, are some of the most viewed piece of content there is.
So they make for a great email, whether it’s for marketing or sales.
With that said, there’s a con to using list emails…
It’s extremely easy to be boring with one.
To be able to pull off a list email, you need interesting phrases or power words to “spice it up a bit”. This way, it’s not just basic subject line in an inbox filled with basic subject lines.
So wordsmithing is required.
Now here are some templates that will allow you to use this type of email subject line immediately.
[Number] [Topic] Mistakes You’re Making
EX: 7 fat loss mistakes you’re making
[Number] Little Known Ways To [Desired Result]
EX: 5 little known ways to double sales
[Number] Hacks To [Desired Result]
EX: 9 hacks to clean out your computer
The Top [Number] Ways To [Desired Result]
EX: The top 3 ways to build your biceps
[Number] Secrets To [Desired Result]
EX: 7 secrets to double conversions
The [Number] Deadly Sins Of [Topic]
EX: The 7 deadly sins of copywriting
My [Number] Favorite Ways To [Desired Result]
EX: My 5 favorite ways to cheat on my diet
[Number] [Topic] Myths Debunked
EX: 11 content marketing myths debunked
[Number] [Topic] Fatalities
EX: 5 video marketing fatalities
[Number] Psychotic Reasons Why [Negative Result]
EX: 3 psychotic reasons why you’re losing money
The Worst [Number] Ways To [Desired Result]
EX: The word 5 ways to get abs
[Number] Classified [Topic] Lessons
EX: 7 classified muscle building lessons
Categories To Fill In:
Have you ever seen a show that will use a gray-like picture to demonstrate boring, neutral, or even a sad atmosphere… then when they bring everything back to color, everything becomes vibrant, happier, and more dynamic?
Most email subject lines are like that gray-like picture.
Contrast emails look like the colored picture.
When you use contrast emails, now you’re shaking things up. They are hard to ignore because the situation you’re putting subscribers in is strange. It’s not exactly “normal”.
People expect the big bully to beat down the little guy.
But then you have stories like David vs Goliath that last for thousands of years.
That’s not the only way to do contrast emails though.
In fact, there are multiple ways.
All of which are necessary because repeating just 1 kind of contrast over and over again will potentially lead to overuse and turn it into a “gray” subject line that people ignore.
You can use promises, “characters”, topics, and more to make it happen.
Regardless of the one you use though, the premise is simple…
Pair up opposites.
As long as it is literally opposites or sound like they could be, you’re solid.
[Topic] Do’s And Don’ts
EX: Muscle building do’s and don’ts
From [Before] To [After]
EX: From fat to ripped
The David And Goliath Of [Topic]
EX: The david and goliath of copywriting
[Desired Result] By [Takeaway]
EX: Big biceps by walking
[Topic] Secrets Of A [Disadvantaged Hero]
EX: Golf secrets of a one legged man
[Disadvantaged Hero] [Desired Result]
EX: Poor romanian strikes gold
[Topic] vs [2nd Topic]
EX: Sales vs marketing
Happy To Have [Negative Result]
EX: Happy to have low conversion rates
[Disadvantaged Hero] From [Location]
EX: Short street fighter from arkansas
[Disadvantaged Hero] Strange [Topic] Secret
EX: Ugly guy’s strange dating secret
[Process To Action] This, Not That
EX: Eat this, not that
[Desired Result] With [Small Task]
EX: Get ripped with walks on the beach
Categories To Fill In:
Relevance is a huge key to successful email marketing.
For the most part, when people talk about relevance, they think of segmentation. However, relevance to the time of the year is just as important.
Just think about it…
When you want to buy something and want to get a deal on it, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Chances are, you’re probably wondering if there’s any holiday coming up that you can wait for since you already know prices are going to drop on those days.
That’s a form of top of mind awareness.
So it’s your job as a marketer to understand and exploit that natural reaction. Regardless of the holiday, you should be there ready with an email subject line that will make you relevant.
Christmas, Valentines Day, Memorial Day…etc
All major holidays are on the table.
However, just having the holiday name on your email subject line isn’t enough. Everybody does that.
Give it some spice.
Borrow from holiday-specific sayings.
Here’s some examples.
[Seasonal Figure] [Adjective] [Topic] Tip
EX: Cupids lovely dog training tip
[Topic] Tip From [Seasonal Figure]
EX: Sales tip from the easter bunny
Have I Got A [Season] [Topic] Tip For You
EX: Have I got a Christmas fat loss tip for you
[Adjective] [Seasonal Figure]’s [Topic] Secret
EX: Fat santa’s muscle building secret
This [Season] [Topic] Tip Isn’t For Everyone
EX: This new years real estate tip isn’t for everyone
Secret [Topic] Tip For This Holiday Season
EX: Secret stock trading tip for this holiday season
Seasons Greeting From The [Disadvantaged Hero]
EX: Seasons greetings from an ugly pick up artist
[Season] Sucks For [Topic]
EX: Halloween sucks for email marketing
This [Topic] Email Is A Joyous Occasion
EX: This copywriting email is a joyous occasion
[Topic] Message From [Seasonal Figure]
EX: Men’s style message from the grinch
[Seasonal Figure] And I Don’t Get Along
EX: Cupid and I don’t get along
[Topic] Advice For [Seasonal Figure]
EX: Fat loss advice for santa claus
Categories To Fill In:
Everyone loves history.
This is a fact.
It just has to be relevant to them or just interesting in general. This is why history class back in highschool probably bored you to death, but a good history-based email subject line will grab your attention fast.
The great thing about history email subject lines is how they not only allow you to borrow proof from famous people, but also allows you to easily make boring subjects entertaining.
Selling knives is boring.
Selling knives that use the same metal Alexander The Great used to forge his sword is freaking bad ass.
So how do you write one?
There are multiple ways.
You can mention a specific person, a time period, a civilization, a location, an old source of information, and more.
Now combine that with your topic.
Boom. Now you’ve got something naturally interesting to anyone on your list, every if they aren’t history buffs.
You can literally use anything from history.
And the older or more mysterious it is, the better.
The one downside to history emails is that you should know some history so you don’t have to spend time researching. But if you’re passionate about a particular topic, you won’t have much trouble finding an interesting piece of history to talk about.
[Number Of Years] Year Old [Topic] Secret
EX: 2,000 year old filming secret
[Topic] Secret Hidden Inside [Old, Secret Location]
EX: CRO secret hidden inside of aristotle’s tomb
[Historical Figure]’s [Topic] Secret
EX: Cleoptra’s dog training secret
[Topic] Secret From Ancient [Location]
EX: Fat loss secret from ancient cambodia
Forgotten [Topic] Secret From The [Old Source Of Information]
EX: Forgotten muscle building secret from the dead sea scrolls
Forgotten [Topic] Secret From The [Time Period]
EX: Forgotten graphic design secret from the renaissance
[Topic] Secret Hidden Inside [Old Source Of Information]
EX: Nutrition secret hidden inside of Buddhist manuscript
[Historical Figure] Discovers [Topic] Secret
EX: George Washington discovers stock trading secret
[Adjective] [Topic] Secret From The [Time Period]
EX: Weird jumping secret from the middle ages
[Number Of Years] [Old Civilization] [Topic] Secret
EX: 1,500 year old aboriginals running secret
[Topic] Trick Only The [Old Civilization] Knew About
EX: Fat loss trick only the romans knew about
[Topic] Secret Unearthed From [Historical Figure’s] Grave
EX: Copywriting secret unearthed from constantin’s grave
Categories To Fill In:
[Number Of Years]
[Old, Secret Location]
[Old Source Of Information]
TV Shows & Movies Emails
Who doesn’t love a good movie or show?
And who doesn’t love it when you use them as context to teach a lesson or sell something?
That’s why the names of show’s and movies make for great email subject lines. It has to be a play on their names though so as to avoid legal problems with it. I’m not a lawyer though, so double check with them.
Anyway, movies and shows are great.
Even when you intentionally replace words with your more relevant keywords, they still make complete sense.
Now of course, not every movie or show name works.
But if you’re a movie buff, you probably won’t have any trouble coming up with names. If you do, just type in “best movies 2017” or whatever year you’re in and you’ll get a whole list of them.
With that said, the most effective one’s tend to be either really popular movies we would all know about regardless of how much we love movies or just make sense with your keyword even if no one knows the movie.
In other words, the extremes.
So with that said, here’s a couple that you can swipe based on what I said above.
[Celebrity] School Of [Topic]
EX: Bruce lee’s school of self defense
The Pursuit Of [Topic]
EX: The pursuit of money
The Return Of The [Disadvantaged Hero]
EX: The return of the one legged golfer
The Beauty And The [Disadvantaged Hero]
EX: The beauty and the ugly pickup artist
EX: Email marketing reloaded
House Of [Topic]
EX: House of muscle
Once Upon A Time In [Topic] Land
EX: Once upon a time in six pack land
It’s Always Sunny In [Topic] World
EX: It’s always sunny in cooking world
How To Get Away With [Desired Result]
EX: How to get away with being rich
True [Topic] Crime Story
EX: True dog training crime story
Secret Life Of The [Disadvantaged Hero]
EX: Secret life of the short street fighter
Masters Of [Topic]
EX: Masters of content marketing
Categories To Fill In:
Writing attention grabbing email subject lines doesn’t necessarily mean just putting random words together that wouldn’t normally put together.
In fact, some of the most effective email subject lines are ones that we all have seen hundreds of times before, just not as an email subject line.
A prime example of this are email subject lines based on popular phrases.
These popular phrases are usually going to be culturally based phrases, but they can also come from movies and other sources.
It’s because they are popular and understood that they work so well.
When was the last time you’ve seen any marketer or company use a well-known phrase like the ones below? Almost never.
That’s what makes them stand out.
Best of all, coming up with them isn’t difficult.
First off, you probably know a bunch off the top of your head right now. And even if you don’t, you’ll probably hear a bunch just going about your day just like you normally do.
Second, you they are easy to find on Google. That means hundreds of possible email subject lines you can actually use.
From there, it’s as simple as inputting your keywords and you’re off to the races.
You Wouldn’t Know [Topic], If It Hit You In The Face
EX: You wouldn’t know these chest exercises if it hit you in the face
Take The [Topic] World By Storm
EX: Take the dog training world by storm
You Can’t Handle The [Topic] Truth
EX: You can’t handle the persuasion truth
Chow Down On This [Topic] Email
EX: Chow down on this sales email
Forgive Your [Topic] Enemies
EX: Forgive your stock market enemies
[Negative Result] Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
EX: Low conversion rates makes the heart grow fonder
[Topic] Tip As Fine As Frog’s Hair
EX: Copywriting tip as fine as frog’s hair
[Topic] Tip Discovered Between A Rock And A Hard Place
EX: Stock market tip discovered between a rock and a hard place
Let’s Keep This [Topic] Tip Off The Record
EX: Let’s keep this youtube tip off the record
It’s Not Over Until The [Topic] Lady Sings
EX: It’s not over until the fitness lady sings
[Topic] In A Nutshell
EX: Snapchat in a nutshell
The Holy Grail Of [Topic]
EX: The holy grail of copywriting
Categories To Fill In:
It doesn’t matter how smart we get…
We all succumb to our primal emotions.
And one of those emotions leads to tribalism. The fact that we belong in one camp while naturally being totally against the opposite camp. In some situations, it’s completely black and white.
A great example of this is in politics.
The majority of people are republican or democrats. The republicans hate liberals. The democrats hate conservatives. Yes, this is a generalization, but it’s easily visible. Everyone knows politics is a very divisive subject.
This is why enemy email subject lines work so well.
The easiest way to bond with other people is to talk to them about common enemies. This is why republicans connect well with other republicans and democrats with with democrats.
Use this one your email subject lines.
Not about politics though, unless you’re a daredevil.
Instead, focus on the enemies/bad guys of your market.
For example, the supplement companies are usually the bad guys in the fitness industry.
In entrepreneurship, the guru’s are positioned as enemies.
Whatever it is for your market, use it!
Rarely will another business go straight for the jugular like this, meaning yours will stand out like a sore thumb even in the most crowded of inboxes.
What [Enemy] Don’t Want You To Know
EX: What supplement companies don’t want you to know
Slap A [Enemy] With This Email
EX: Slap a guru with this email
A [Enemy] A Day, Keeps The [Authority] Away
EX: A rich jerk a day, keeps the good guys away
Nonsense Paraded Around By [Enemy]
EX: Nonsense paraded around by PUA’s
[Enemy] Walks The Plank
EX: Guru walks the plank
The [Enemy] Guide To [Desired Result]
EX: The TV fitness celeb’s guide to getting ripped
I Swore I Saw [Enemy] From The Corner Of My Eye
EX: I swore I saw guru’s from the corner of my eye
Swindled By [Enemy]
EX: Swindled by supplement companies
The [Enemy] And His White Van
EX: The PUA and his white van
Why I Love The [Enemy]
EX: Why I love the rich jerk
[Enemy] Had His Hands In My Pants
EX: Supplement companies had their hands in my pants
[Enemy] Scheme Foiled
EX: Guru scheme foiled
Categories To Fill In: