HomeSeguno Blog

How to write email subject lines that get opened

How to write email subject lines that get opened

Imagine you’re on vacation in a small town, strolling Main Street anywhere.

Blocks of small, local shops line both sides of the street. What makes you step foot inside one?

The shop title may catch your eye. Or a whimsical storefront beckons. Whatever speaks to you, the exterior is intriguing enough to explore what’s inside.     

Email subject lines work the same way. 

You can learn all you want about designing emails that convert. Fantastic email design execution will mean little if you slap on a lousy subject line that causes subscribers to pass on by.  

We hear your questions. How do you write good subject lines that stand out in a crowded inbox? How long should email subject lines be? Are emojis OK? 

We’re answering all of these questions and more, and supplying examples. Read on if you want to compose email “window displays” that increase your open rates. 


Why you need to nail email subject lines consistently

Unless you’ve got a ton of fans who gobble up every message, your email subject lines have a tall task. 

They must spark curiosity, give a first impression that aligns with the email content, and motivate subscribers to open the newsletter. 

Get it right, and you foster more email opens. More opens means more clicks. More clicks lead to more sales.    

Here’s further evidence of an email subject line’s power to persuade in case you’re not convinced: 

Racking up spam complaints can harm your email deliverability. You risk being banned from the inbox/Gmail promo tab and not even seen.    

While we’re on the subject of spam, prioritize list hygiene. You want engaged subscribers. So clean your list periodically — maybe once per quarter — by deactivating/removing those with a long track record of never opening your emails.

Saying farewell to inactive subscribers strengthens your email sender reputation, which boosts email deliverability and chances of reaching the inbox.

9 tips for writing good email subject lines 

There’s no formula for the perfect email subject line. But when mixed and matched, various best practices tend to garner better results. 

#1 Be concise 

The inbox has little room, so keep subject lines brief and eliminate unnecessary words. Plus, giving everything away leaves little reason to open it.  

According to studies, the sweet spot for the best open rates is six to 10 words.

Two-column chart showing word count ranges and correlating open rates
Data courtesy of Invesp

It’s also important to place keywords toward the beginning of the subject line, especially when calling out a brand name. See how Version A, below, is succinct and places the keyword at the forefront?

Version A: New Lip Plump shades just arrived in the store

Version B: The store just got a new shipment of Lip Plump shades and colors

#2 Don’t mislead 

There are various approaches to enticing subscribers. A big no-no that loses subscriber trust? Stretching the truth to get more eyeballs on your content.  

Clickbait email subject lines don’t work. We’re talking exaggerations, deceptions, or over-the-top statements that are nearly impossible to deliver. Save the “you won’t believe this!” line for super big news. Or ditch the cliche altogether. 

The “re:” and “fw:” intro also fall into the clickbait realm. Emails with “fw:” in the subject line are 17% less likely to be opened. It’s spammy and looks suspicious. Most people are too technologically adept to fall for that. 

Inbox screenshot showing an email highlighted with the subject line "Fwd: Action Required"
Including "Fwd:" in the subject line has been shown to harm open rates

Long story short, be accurate. Don’t trick your subscribers. 

#3 Lean on urgency 

Sometimes you’ve got to poke your subscribers into action, like sending a reminder about promotional pricing that’s coming to an end. Other times call for the scarcity principle to move out the remaining inventory of seasonal products. 

Urgency and/or exclusivity in a subject line can generate a 22% higher open rate than those that don’t. 

You know the type. “3 hours left until they’re gone!” “Final call to save $25.” 

Sprinkle in the approach without overdoing it. No one wants to be the boy who called wolf. Subscribers will ignore your messages if they are constantly fed “hurry, time’s running out!” messaging. 

#4 Craft complementary preview text 

Know the muted, gray text trailing the email subject line? That’s the email preview text, sometimes known as preheader text. 

Preview text reinforces the subject line with extra information. Well-written ones can sway a subscriber to open the email. It’s wise to fill it in every time. 

Use this additional real estate to expand or play upon the subject line. That doesn’t mean regurgitating the subject line verbatim or with slightly different wording. Instead, add information and details to reveal more of the email’s contents, like the highlighted example below. 

Inbox screenshot of email highlighted with the subject line"Are you retail or wholesale?" with preview text "Vote inside!"
Use the preview text to support, not reiterate, the subject line

You could use preview text to: 

  • Share key features/highlights if the subject line mentions a new product
  • Add urgency by providing the end date for the sale promoted in the subject line
  • Explain an ambiguous subject line 

We recommend 100 to 150 characters. Even if your subscribers only get a partial view, that’s OK. The preview text area is a valuable space to leverage. 

#5 Slide in a number

Take a look at your email inbox. If you’re a typical scroller, most email subject lines containing one or more numbers are a magnet to the eyes. 

Numbers add a different element amid a string of words, making the subject line more scannable. They can also help convey your message quicker. 

See what we mean in the two examples highlighted below?

Inbox screenshot showing highlighted email subject lines with dollar amounts
Numbers in subject lines tend to stand out

#6 Employ emojis

Just like numbers, emojis attract. Scratch that — they seemingly demand that you take notice. 

One study found that email subject lines with emojis generate a 56% higher open rate than those that don’t. 

Tasteful emoji usage requires some guardrails:

  • Don’t go overboard. An excessive amount looks like spam. 
  • Ensure images match the message. Don’t add an irrelevant emoji just for attention.  
  • Frame subject lines so that they work without the emoji. Emoticon support varies depending on email client versions and operating systems, so treat emojis as a visual extra. 

Not all email subject lines need emojis. But they are a helpful megaphone 📢 when done right, aren’t they?

Inbox screenshot showing a highlighted email with a subject line featuring ice cube emojis

#7 Be authentic

Authenticity manifests in different ways. The most obvious is staying true to your brand’s personality.

Do you speak to your audience in a certain way? Are subscribers dialed into jargon or phrases unique to your industry niche? Email subject lines are the perfect spot to drop them in.  

The examples below show what we mean:  

  • Nerds: 'Fear is the mind-killer' prints available  
  • 🤩 OH. EM. GEE. It’s a tumbler sale.
  • Compress Yo Self
  • A Drop Darker Than Your Secrets

The tactic can be risky if subscribers aren’t attuned to your brand or ecosystem. They might not appreciate your creativity and possibly skip over the email if they feel excluded. 

On the other hand, it can have big payoffs if you’ve cultivated a solid connection between your niche and brand. 

Another form of authenticity is the “oops” or “sorry about that” subject line. Owning your mistakes shows that real humans operate behind the scenes. 

#8 Switch up your words

If you regularly send “remails” — sending an email a second time to non-openers — then this tip is for you. 

You need to change up the subject line.  

You might think, “I know not everyone saw the original subject line. So why even bother?”

Well, don’t you want to improve your odds the second time? 

Experiment with a completely new subject line or insert a note of urgency. For instance, if the original message was a sale, the remail subject line can refer to its impending end:

  • Subject line 1: We've got a sale happening
  • Subject line 2 (the remail): Don't miss out … our sale is almost over!

#9 Inspect before sending

Check your spelling and grammar. Seems obvious, but we’ve heard some horror stories. 

Run your email subject lines through spell check or use a text-to-speech app.  

They’re small things but worthwhile. Our running joke is that you don’t want to be the brand that forgets the 'r' in 'shirt.'


Effective email subject line examples 

How about some email subject line examples to get the ideas flowing? We’ve compiled inspiration around three distinct angles: catchy subject lines for sales, subject lines for launches, and funny emails. 

Catchy subject lines for promotional emails

“Catchy” means different things to different people. In general, we label it as curiosity arousing.    

Some examples below include power words, indicated in bold. (See for yourself the other top-performing words, as revealed by an analysis of billions of emails.) 

  • Open now for a VIP deal
  • Our forecast for stylish days ahead
  • Your loyalty invite 💌 is waiting 
  • Are you ready ____ (for vacay, to hit the books, etc.)?
  • 🙏 Thank you for trusting us
  • It’s baaaaaack
  • Life is short. Buy the ___.
  • Your ___ (skincare, accessory styling, etc.) questions answered
  • Our top 5 best-sellers
  • 📈What’s trending for ____ (fall, summer, etc.) 

Subject lines for product launches

New product or collection releases deserve lots of noise. Here are some ideas for shining the spotlight:

  • We’re launching something pretty special …
  • Say “hi” 👋 to our revolutionary ____
  • We think you’re gonna love this 💖
  • Meet the ____ 
  • The secret’s finally out!
  • Introducing your new favorite ____ 
  • Get ready to upgrade your wardrobe 
  • These new arrivals will steal your heart
  • Our ___ was already great. We improved it. 
  • 😊 Warning: You might do the Happy Dance
Product launches deserve extra attention. Learn how to give them a boost with our product launch email guide.

Funny email subject lines

We love humor-infused subject lines that solicit a smile. Humor runs the gamut from a play on words to the unconventional/unexpected and quirky.  

We can’t claim the following email examples as our own, hence the brand name in brackets. 

  • Tick, tock (Not TikTok) [Dr. Squatch]
  • Warning: Your other underwear is about to get jealous. [MeUndies]
  • Cute dresses that won't judge your snack habits (because snacks are life). [ModCloth]
  • Pumpkin spice is out. Broccoli Cheddar soup is in. [The Skimm]
  • Your Dog Demands Snacks (He Told Us). [BarkBox]
  • If you poop, shower, and shave daily, then you need the Daily Essentials Starter Set. [Dollar Shave Club]
  • these shorts… are long [Urban Outfitters]

Don’t forget the supporting role of preview text, too. Here’s a great example from Chubbies:


Preview text: (Sorry, j/k). But we do have 40% OFF OUTERWEAR 

More email subject line inspo awaits. Find email subject line examples you can copy and paste for:
Black Friday Cyber Monday

Winter holidays

Valentine’s Day

Welcome emails

Abandoned checkout emails

Post-purchase emails
Back-in-stock emails

Write to your audience

Let’s return to our fictional Main Street. 

We expect most local, independent shops to cater to a particular demographic. Their signage or window displays will reflect that. 

Shopify stores aren’t everything to everyone, either. Thus, craft email subject lines with your target audience in mind. Embrace relatable angles. 

Email marketing provides an additional perk that a brick-and-mortar store can’t do: the opportunity to personalize from the outset. 

Got a first name? Plop it in. 

Inbox screenshot of an email highlighted with the subject line "For Tracy only: new clearance faves"
Personalization can come in the form of inserting a first name

Got customer tags that you use for sending segmented emails? Add pertinence through the subject line.   

"Personalized subject lines — e.g., recipient’s name, past purchases, custom offers — can increase open rates by 50%, in my experience,” notes Carlos Vega, director of email strategy at Acxiom. “Hence the more relevant the subject line, the better."

Finally, always experiment to determine what resonates with your subscribers. Look for patterns among open rate metrics. Elements that make for a winning subject line — and the opposite — will likely emerge. 

If you want more data, go to the next level with A/B testing. Split your email subscribers into two groups, send the same email to both but with a different subject line, and see what happens. 

At the very least, put more care into your email subject lines by incorporating our nine tips and learning from the examples. We’re sure your email open rates will increase.  

Create, manage, and track your email marketing—without leaving Shopify.

Seguno is the top-rated email solution built exclusively for Shopify. Grow your sales with high-performing newsletters, email automation campaigns, and integrations with Facebook, Instagram, banners, pop-ups and more. Build and send engaging emails in our easy-to-use editor and take email creation to the next level with our Canva integration. Automate your email marketing and drive more revenue with welcome campaigns, checkout abandonment, post-purchase automations, tag triggers and more.

Find Seguno on the Shopify App Store
Get email marketing tips, resources, and industry insights to help your Shopify store grow.

Continue reading

<a href="/bfcm" target="_blank" class="holiday-hub-injection bfcm-injection w-inline-block"><div class="bfcm-injection-bfcm">Best. BFCM. Ever.</div><h5 class="hh-injection-text bfcm">get the Black Friday email marketing resources, tips, and tools you need to help your Shopify store succeed</h5><div class="hh23-injection-faux-button bfcm">visit the BFCM resource center</div></a>
<a href="/holiday-hub" target="_blank" class="holiday-hub-injection w-inline-block"><img src="" loading="lazy" width="854" alt="Seguno Holiday Hub - email marketing resources, tips, and tools you need to help your Shopify store succeed" class="hh23-holiday-hub"><h3 class="hh-injection-text">email marketing resources, tips, and tools you need to help your Shopify store succeed</h3><div class="hh23-injection-faux-button">visit the holiday hub</div></a>
<div class="app-download-injection popup-app-injection"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Seguno + Shopify 4EVER" class="app-download-injection-shopify-logo"><div class="app-injection-text-div"><div class="app-download-injection-inner-div popup-app-injection"><div class="_4-9 popup-app-injection">5.0</div><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="" class="download-app-injection-star"><div>Seguno Popups &amp; Exit Intent</div></div><div class="app-download-injection-subhead">Create, trigger, and track popups from your shop's Admin</div></div><a href="" class="app-download-injection-button w-button" target="_blank">Get details &amp; install</a></div>
<div class="app-download-injection"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Bulk Discount Code Bot App for Shopify" class="app-download-injection-bulk-discount-icon"><div class="app-injection-text-div"><div class="app-download-injection-inner-div"><div class="_4-9">4.9</div><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Shopify Review Star" class="download-app-injection-star"><div>Bulk Discount Code Bot</div></div><div class="app-download-injection-subhead">Stop coupon abuse with unique discount code sets</div></div><a href=";channel=com&amp;utm_source=blog&amp;utm_medium=website&amp;utm_campaign=blog+call+out" target="_blank" class="app-download-injection-button w-button">Get details &amp; install</a></div>
<div class="app-download-injection popup-app-injection"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Seguno + Shopify 4EVER" class="app-download-injection-shopify-logo"><div class="app-injection-text-div"><div class="app-download-injection-inner-div popup-app-injection"><div class="_4-9 popup-app-injection">5.0</div><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="" class="download-app-injection-star"><div>Seguno Popups &amp; Exit Intent</div></div><div class="app-download-injection-subhead">Create, trigger, and track popups from your shop's Admin</div></div><a href="" class="app-download-injection-button w-button" target="_blank">Get details &amp; install</a></div>
<div class="schedule-a-demo-injection"><div class="demo-injection-heading">Book a 1:1 demo</div><p class="demo-injection-p">Give us 30 minutes and we'll give you a peek at how Seguno's email marketing and popups can elevate your marketing.</p><a href="/schedule-a-demo" class="demo-injection-button w-button">Schedule a Demo</a></div>
<div class="getting-started-injection"><div class="getting-started-subhead">Blog Series</div><h3 class="getting-started-heading">6 steps to start email marketing for your Shopify store</h3><div class="getting-started-collection w-dyn-list"><div role="list" class="getting-started-list w-dyn-items"><div role="listitem" class="getting-started-item w-dyn-item"><a href="/blog/how-to-define-your-unique-selling-proposition" class="getting-started-link w-inline-block"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="How to define your unique selling proposition" class="getting-started-image"></a></div><div role="listitem" class="getting-started-item w-dyn-item"><a href="/blog/how-to-grow-your-audience" class="getting-started-link w-inline-block"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="How to grow your audience " class="getting-started-image"></a></div><div role="listitem" class="getting-started-item w-dyn-item"><a href="/blog/your-first-email-automation-start-with-hello" class="getting-started-link w-inline-block"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Say hello with your first email automation " class="getting-started-image"></a></div><div role="listitem" class="getting-started-item w-dyn-item"><a href="/blog/tips-for-building-your-first-newsletter" class="getting-started-link w-inline-block"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Tips for building your first newsletter " class="getting-started-image"></a></div><div role="listitem" class="getting-started-item w-dyn-item"><a href="/blog/make-email-marketing-efficient-with-templates" class="getting-started-link w-inline-block"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Make email marketing efficient with templates" class="getting-started-image"></a></div><div role="listitem" class="getting-started-item w-dyn-item"><a href="/blog/convert-interest-to-sales-with-email-automations" class="getting-started-link w-inline-block"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Convert interest to sales with email automations" class="getting-started-image"></a></div></div></div> <script> window.addEventListener("load",(t=>{var r=$(location).attr("href").split("/").reverse()[0];$(".getting-started-item").each((function(t){var e=$(this).find("a"),s=e.attr("href");r==s.substring(6,s.length)&&(e.attr("href","#"),e.css("opacity","0.3"),e.css("cursor","default"),e.css("transform","none"))}))})); </script>
<div class="app-download-injection"><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Seguno + Shopify 4EVER" class="app-download-injection-shopify-logo"><div class="app-injection-text-div"><div class="app-download-injection-inner-div"><div class="_4-9">4.9</div><img src="" loading="lazy" alt="Shopify Review Star" class="download-app-injection-star"><div>Seguno Email&nbsp;Marketing</div></div><div class="app-download-injection-subhead">The top-rated email marketing app built exclusively for Shopify</div></div><a href="" class="app-download-injection-button w-button" target="_blank">Get details &amp; install</a></div>
<div class="v3-email-signup-section blog-email-signup-insert"><p class="v3-lp-h1 text-white blog-signup-insert">Subscribe to get email marketing tips, resources, and industry insights to help your Shopify store grow.</p><div class="v3-form email-only-form form-centered w-form"><form id="wf-form-Email-Subscription" name="wf-form-Email-Subscription" data-name="Email Subscription" method="get" class="email-only-form" data-wf-page-id="617bf866dd7a76703506c655" data-wf-element-id="e33b17bb-76b8-992b-7b38-764576544155" aria-label="Email Subscription"><input type="email" class="email-only w-input" maxlength="256" name="Email" data-name="Email" placeholder="Please enter your email address" id="Email" required=""><input type="submit" value="Subscribe →" data-wait="Please wait..." class="v3-base-button brown-button email-only-form-button button-rollover w-button"></form><div class="email-only-success-message w-form-done" tabindex="-1" role="region" aria-label="Email Subscription success"><div class="events-text-block text-white center-text"><strong>Awesome, thanks for subscribing!</strong></div></div><div class="w-form-fail" tabindex="-1" role="region" aria-label="Email Subscription failure"><div>Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.</div></div></div><div class="email-disclaimer">By submitting this form you agree to receive email marketing messages from Seguno.</div></div>