557 Email Subject Line Hacks to Get You Noticed in the Inbox

by Tommy Walker

Last updated on May 20th, 2018

Life is hard for an email marketer.

How to create the best email subject line?

Google smacks you down.

Subscribers complain and flag you for spam.

And people don’t even open the stupid thing they said they wanted just 30 seconds ago! What’s an email marketer to do?!

STEAL! That’s what.

raiders of the lost ark

What follows is a mega-list swipe file that links to some of the best email subject line compilations out there.

Yes, there are…

The Best 105 Subject Lines Inspirations You Can Swipe From SXSW

Thank Brian Massey of Conversion Scientist for this one. In 2012, he categorized all of the panel submissions into logical categories like “Alliteration” & “Non-Sequiturs.”

Some of my favorites are:

  • Multiple Personalities–Not a Disorder but the Norm
  • Your Social Media Job Is Dead: Now What?
  • Epic Battle: Creativity vs. Discipline in Social

10 Of The Best Email Subject Lines You’ve Ever Read

This post on the Hubspot blog showcases some really unique subject lines, one of which was the most successful of Obama’s entire email campaign!

Notable examples include:

  • Hey
  • Where to drink beer right now
  • Buffer has been hacked

Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks Report – 52 Headlines For Writing Posts That Go Viral

From my mentor, Jon Morrow, the Headline Hacks report quite possibly gives the most thorough explanations of why certain headlines work.

Granted, this isn’t specifically for email, but these are designed to get attention, so the same rules still apply.

My favorites include:

  • How Safe Is Your [ Valuable Person/Object] from [ Threat]?
  • Can’t Keep up? 21 Ways to Simplify Your Search for New Clients
  • How to Knock $127 Off Your Phone Bill in 15 Minutes or Less

7 Eye-Catching Email Titles To Catapult Your Open Rates

This one on Unbounce gives a handful of powerful subject lines, along with insights on why they work.

Attention-grabbing specimens include:

  • Were we boring you?
  • Steve, where are you?
  • How I grew the KissMetrics Blog From 0 to 350,000 readers a month

The No-Effort Email to Convert Free Users To Paying Customers

This single subject line post is so simple, so insanely simple, that you’ll wonder why it’s not in your automation funnel.

I won’t ruin it for you by giving you an example, but I will say this: You’re losing money by not knowing what it is.

101 Attention Grabbing Subject Lines For Email Marketing Promotions

Ok, so I’ll be honest. On their own, these subject lines are… ok. That’s fine though, because they’re meant to be a list of “starters.”

With what you’ve  learned from the other posts on this list, I’m confident you could adapt them to be great.

For example:

  • Which option do you prefer? = Neil Patel vs Chris Brogan, who does social better?
  • Could this be possible? = Impossible! Jon Morrow just leaked his secret to making $500/ guest post!
  • Can we talk about this? = [Name] We need to talk about [subject]

63 Great Email Subject Lines from the (2011) SXSW Catalog

Another one from Brian Massey, only this time the subjects are more fun and creative.

Some fun examples include:

  • How Social Media Fu@k’d Up My Marriage (Learn how not to have your relationship ruined by the online world)
  • Your Computer is the Next Wonder Drug
  • Zombies Must Eat: How Genre Communities Make Money
  • Seven Reasons Your Employees Hate You.

29 Great B2B Marketing Subject Lines

On the VerticalResponse blog, they were kind enough to share some great subject line inspirations specifically for B2B marketers.

Great examples include:

  • How to Impress Your Cranky CFO – Save $1,000
  • Get a $30 Gift Card for 30 Minutes of Your Time
  • How To Make it Onto Your Buyer’s Short List

50 All Time Great Retail Subject Lines

Another from VerticalResponse. Only this time geared specifically towards retailers.

Some retail inspirations you’ll find there are:

  • [New Product] has arrived. Order now before we run out.
  • Extended for a day! Get Free shipping through Friday.
  • Email subscriber exclusive: [Product name] sale is here.

Al Franken, Email Master

This listacle on BuzzFeed demonstrates 8 of Senator Al Franken’s brilliant email headlines.

I love these because they’re a combination of personal, quirky and direct. But more importantly, they seem to have an inherent understanding of the typical inbox environment is all about.

My favorites:

  • Back up my boasting
  • Me again
  • Yes, this is a fundraising email

The Obamas, Email Masters

Another one on BuzzFeed documents what it means to be the Commander in Chief of email marketing.

Some notables include:

  • Sometime soon, I want to meet you
  • You’ll like this one
  • Can you come to the president’s birthday?

There are only 8 there, (well, and one duplicate) but they are a perfect demonstration of emailing when your name (or company) has some weight to it.

1 Secret, and 7 Best Email Subject Line Examples

This examination of the email subject lines in Amanda MacAuthor’s inbox on Mequoda.com is a great reminder that sometimes the best swipe file is right underneath your nose.

In it, she doesn’t just give subject line ideas, but why they stood out and grabbed her attention—a part of the process I think we should all consider more carefully. On a personal note, I know I don’t even bother with the “7 things to…” and “8 reasons why” emails.

That’s not to say they don’t work, I’m just saying that if I’m in your target demo, that’s not the best way to get my attention…


  • Panic
  • Threatened and scared, she turned to an angel
  • How to get 12 hours out of an 8 hour day

Creative Email Subject Lines From Thrillist

Taking my own advice, this isn’t an article, but a snapshot of the last 16 emails Thrillist sent me.

What I love about their email strategy is how they use location, and really seem to understand the local vernacular for that list.

Some standouts include:

  • Bad Decision Time!
  • Let’s get fat, Boston
  • MMM…Fried Chicken

100 Effective Email Subject Lines That Work – Email Newsletters

Last but not least, this article from Marketing Artfully has a great compilation of stand out email subject lines.

Some of my favorites are:

  • 12 Pinterest Boards You Can’t Live Without, # 3 Is My Bible!
  • The secrets behind Black Friday ad copy
  • Become a Traffic Mogul With This “Game Changing” Software/System

Don’t want to take up too much more of your time, because you’ve got a lot of reading to do.

If you use or adapt one of these, let me know which one in the comments, along with the difference in your open rate.

I look forward to hearing about your success! What are the top email subject lines that get oppened on your business?



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Tommy Walker

Tommy Walker is an online marketing strategist, show host, and prolific guest blogger specializing in highly effective, counter-intuitive approaches to online marketing. He seeks to expand your thinking on what's possible with online content.

Check out his approach on guest post landing pages, and get a free copy of The Top Ten Content Marketing Strategy Mistakes by clicking here.


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  1. Anonymous says:
    February 5, 2017 at 4:21 pm

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  2. Debbie says:
    December 1, 2016 at 1:45 am

    I love Crazzyegg blogs,they are so resorceful and informative that it always helps me out everytime I have a query regarding technology , or marketing aspects.I am glad you shared such post which gave us a lot of informative key points to email subject lines.I love the fact that subject lines are so impactful that it literally cause the receiver to open the emails, which is very advantageous to every business out there who is doing email marketing.Our business uses a tool called Easysendy Pro for hybrid email marketing service, and I really liked the way it gives us good conversions and so many options for those attractive templates.

  3. Anonymous says:
    December 13, 2015 at 3:14 am

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  4. Daniel says:
    October 5, 2015 at 5:27 am

    I notice that almost all of these subject lines are capitalised, do you have any ideas / thoughts on Putting A Capital Letter At The Start Of Every Word, VS just writing it down normally?

  5. tafavotha says:
    February 8, 2015 at 4:34 am

    wow great , I really like it , so thanks

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      February 8, 2015 at 10:19 am

      Awesome! Glad to hear it, Tafavotha.

  6. Tony says:
    July 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    We are doing research for our success students and will send them to this site for help with email subjects…great post! passion2profitcanada.com

    • Neil Patel says:
      July 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Tony, glad you found the post helpful 🙂

  7. Sarvdeep Singh says:
    June 20, 2014 at 5:38 am

    Great post Tommy. In service marketing business emails play a vital role and your post definitely help to improve a lot of factors.
    Tommy, what will you suggest about legal service e-marketing subject line?

    • Tommy Walker says:
      June 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Hey Sarvdeep, what kind of law are we talking about?

  8. Aroux says:
    June 18, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Great compilation of subject lines! 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 http://www.subjectlinegold.com

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      June 18, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Looks like a useful resource, Aroux. Thanks for sharing!

    • Neil Patel says:
      June 18, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Aroux, thanks for the share. We’ll definitely have to check it out 🙂

  9. Kate says:
    April 22, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Thank you! This certainly gives me some ideas!

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      April 22, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Glad to hear it, Kate. Good luck!

    • neil says:
      April 22, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Kate, glad we could help. Thanks for reading 🙂

  10. Dano says:
    March 27, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Very useful article. Just wanted to point out one thing. I believe you met to refer to Senator Al Franken and not Al Franklin. Al Franken = Funny, Smart, Good Guy. Al Franklin = Huh? 🙂

    • Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing says:
      April 21, 2014 at 10:38 am

      I know — this post is genius…but let’s give credit to the great Al Franken!

      • Kathryn Aragon says:
        April 21, 2014 at 10:56 am

        Correction made. Thanks for the input, Carol and Dano!

  11. Solange says:
    February 13, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Terrific article. Many thanks for the tips and great work. I’ve recently found your blog posts and now I’m a daily reader. Cheers!

  12. Christopher Pontine says:
    February 2, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Hey Tommy,

    First of all, great post and title, you sucked me right into reading!!!!! SECOND, great break down, I feel it offers some great subject lines to use in certain situations, which I find very important.

    PS: Just curious on what your top 2 or 3 products for email marketing software you would say to try?


    Christopher Pontine

    • Tommy Walker says:
      February 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Ah, so I see my plan worked. Excellent ::sinister chuckle::

      I’m an AWeber customer & I love AWProtools because it allws me to tag subscribers, switch lists based on click behavior, and a whole lot more.

      They’re a former client, so I may be biased, but I think its amazing

  13. Yisroel Reiss says:
    February 2, 2014 at 5:19 am

    This post was awesome! Thanks, Tommy.

  14. January 29, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Tommy, fantastic list. This is a tremendous research effort on your part, piled all into one post. I am book marking this (evernote) for sure. By the way, absolutely love the intro. Well done.

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