10 Sure-Fire Subject Line Formulas for Your Email Marketing Campaigns

10 Sure-Fire Subject Line Formulas for Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Are you getting the most out of your email marketing campaigns?

Email leads generate sales. Last year, 44% of email recipients admitted to have responded to, and made, at least one purchase based on email.

To get your customer to open your message, your subject line matters. According to Jay Baer, 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.

Subject lines are what your readers see first. If it flops, that’s all your recipients will see. Spend the time and effort to write great subject lines. Then rewrite them, A/B test them, and rewrite them again!

Here, I give you 10 formulas to write your subject lines that will be opened, clicked and converted.

1. “You, you, you”

Make your subject line personal. Use the pronoun “you” to develop an immediate personal reaction with your recipients. Make your contacts feel as though you are speaking directly to them in their inbox.

I recently received an email from Consummate Marketers with this subject line:

Are you going to the 10/30/90 Challenge tomorrow?

It includes “you” and invites recipients to a particular event. I liked it enough to click on it, wouldn’t you?

Another great example of “you” in the subject line came from Mari Smith:

We're starting in a few hours - can you join us?

The line is personal, simple, and inviting. She even includes “we” and “us” to make recipients feel a stronger relationship.

Here’s a few more “you, you, you” subject line examples:

  • We want hear from you. Why didn’t you continue with [co. name]?
  • Your weekly newsletter has arrived
  • What will you test with [our new service]?

2. Hi [name], this is [name] from [business name]

Personalize your subject lines. Use email marketing tools like Wishpond.

Seize the opportunity to include your recipients name. This deepens the connection, and your email will have an increased chance of being opened.

Take it a step further, and include your own name, and your company name too. Your email brings an immediate familiarity, which is conducive to consumer trust, which leads to more interaction and, ultimately, sales.

Here’s an example from Kred.com:

Hello Krista, this is Scott Milener from Kred.com

Using my name makes me look twice, and I’m more likely to read both Scott’s name, and the company, Kred.

Here’s a few more personalized subject line examples:

  • Hey Alex, have you read Jon Smith’s article on the Wishpond blog?
  • Hi James, got a sec? [co name] wants your opinion…
  • Hello Sarah, you have a new message from Beth Gordon

3. What [your industry people] need to know

Segment your emails by industry or demographic market. Think about your different audiences and write specific subject lines for each of your segments.


  • What are their particular needs?
  • What language / lingo do they use - and what do they best respond to?
  • What are the problems they’re facing - and how can you alleviate their fears?

Send out messages crafting your subject lines to connect with each of your markets.

Here’s a great example directed to us smug PR industry types:

Facebook and Linkedin Figure Out what PR Pros have Known for Years

It makes PR pros feel they have knowledge - but that they might want to read the body text - just in case they’re missing something!

Here’s another industry segmented related subject line:

The Challenges Facing Marketers

As a marketer, the subject line connects, without being all ‘in your face’. It gives the promise of solving your problems, and potential for dialogue around a topic of interest.

Here’s a few more segmented subject line examples, all about the same topic:

  • 7 easy steps to get out of student debt
  • New mom? 7 steps to living on a single income
  • 7 steps to a debt-free life

4. Join us in [geo-location] tomorrow

Segment your emails by geographic location, too. People like to know where an email is from. If you include their geographic location, studies have shown recipients are more likely to open the email.

Here’s a few geographically segmented subject line examples:

  • Join Whole Foods in Sacramento tomorrow…
  • Seattle rocks! Find out why…
  • Justin Bieber loves New York, and he’s visiting you soon

5. Be specific and clear:

People get tons of emails in a day. (I get about a hundred or so, and you likely do too.) Make your subject lines specific. And make them clear.

You’ll catch the attention of your busy consumer, and they’re likely to appreciate your appreciation of their time crunch.

Here’s an example from YouTube on Ted talks:

TED: "Best of TedXTalks"

It’s simple, to the point, and clear about it’s call to action.

Here’s another example of a concise subject line, directed to tech start ups:

6 Alternatives to VC Funding

It’s immediately appealing, as it quickly solves a problem without being verbose.

Now, there are audiences and markets who prefer longer subject lines. If you’re a B2B, however, I would stick with the ‘less is more’ philosophy.

Here’s a few more specific and clear subject line examples:

  • Welcome to [co. name]
  • Markerly Stats
  • [co. name] Update - November 13, 2013

6. Need a better solution for [customer problem]?

Offer to solve a problem in your email subject line. Think like your consumer, and send out emails that will cater to their needs.


  • What problems do my customers have?
  • How can I solve it?
  • What are the best terms and lingo to use to connect with my market?

Here’s an example of asking a question to solve a customer problem:

Want a Better Way to Keep up with VentureBeat News?

Venture Beat wants to send me their news in an easier format. I’m in!

Here’s a few more solution oriented subject line examples:

  • Here’s how to reach more people on Facebook
  • Maximize your content visibility
  • Do you want a simpler way to target with Facebook ads?

7. [Number] of amazing/ shocking tips [and more]

Use numbers in your emails to grab the limited attention of your audience. Mixing up your text makes your email subject lines more scannable. The simpler they are to find as your market scrolls through their lists, the more likely your readers’ eyes will want to click on your interesting message.

Mashable uses this tactic a lot:

11 Shocking Google Earth Before-and-After Photos and Ten More

They additionally include the and [number] more technique, to intrigue their email subscribers further.

Here’s a few more numbered tips subject line examples:

  • 10 Methods to Get More Email Leads
  • 48 hours in enemy territory - what would you do?
  • 5 Sure-fire tips to increase Facebook Fans

8. One day left, then your chance is gone forever…

Create a sense of urgency with your subject lines. Yup, get back to those classic marketing tactics. They work!

For example, send out emails:

  • with limited time offers
  • that give discounts for the first few to respond
  • with action words
  • showing a limited supply of product

Here’s an example of a time based subject line to create a sense of urgency:

Last Day to Save Big on Authority

Use words like “last”, “act now”, “limited”, “today”, “final day”, and so on.

Here’s a few more sense of urgency subject line examples:

  • Act now, to get the last discount
  • We can’t offer this all day…
  • New shipment selling out quick, pre-order yours today

9. Exclusive offer, extended for you

Make your email connections feel special. Give them exclusive offers they just can’t get anywhere else. Phrase your subject lines to show your customer appreciation.

In this example, the company is offering an enticing sweepstakes opportunity. Not only that, but they’re giving their email contacts a special extended chance to enter:

Our "Content Is" Sweepstakes Has Been Extended! Enter for your Chance to Win

To send out exclusive offers to your email list, use:

  • contests
  • sweepstakes
  • email-gated content
  • exclusive discounts
  • special behind the scenes looks
  • and more

Here’s a few more exclusive offer subject line examples:

  • We love you. To show our appreciation we’re giving you…
  • As a special thanks for dropping by last week, here’s a 20% discount
  • You didn’t win our contest, but here’s an exclusive 15% off

10. [Breaking news]

The 2013 Adestra Subject Line Analysis Report show that words like “breaking” generate a 35% higher open rate when marketing to B2B’s.

Use it to generate excitement, and induce actions with your email leads.

Here’s an example of an email I received the day that Twitter went public:

Breaking News: Twitter IPO Live Feed

It was pretty exciting news, and I for one clicked through to watch it live on site.

Here’s a few more “breaking” subject line examples:

  • Breaking news from [co. name]
  • Breaking down the anatomy of an email campaign
  • We’re breaking tradition, getting results, and you can too

Test, Test, Test

As with any great email marketing campaign, you need to test! And then test again!

A/B test your subject lines. Test your subject lines by emailing two select section of your lists. Send out two different subject lines for your email. Test the open rates, click through rates, and conversion rates. Then use the better performing line.

What holds true for one business email campaign may not hold true for you. Your intended audience varies, your business objectives vary, and your campaigns vary too.

For example, if you’re emailing to market an upcoming contest, your subject line will be vastly different than if you’re emailing to promote a white paper you just published. You’re invoking varying emotions for the two campaigns. Your demographics might be the same, but the motives of your market are not. 

Testing your subject lines, and using your best performer gives you improved results.


Email marketing is an amazing method to reach your customers one on one. To reach your audience, you need to create the best subject lines. Without the initial intrigue, your email will not get opened, let alone clicked through or converted to sales.

I really do want you to succeed, so go ahead and use these sure-fire email subject line methods. Let me know how you did in the comments, below!

For further reading on how to generate email leads, and more, check out:

Wishpond's Facebook Contest Apps make it easy to create sweepstakes, photo contests, Instagram hashtag contests & more.