So you’ve started to send emails to your newly built (and growing) email list.
The problem? It’s becoming more difficult to come up with professional subject lines that get your emails open and read.
To help, we’ve put together a list of 87 professional subject lines, that combine fun, wit, and professionalism in one knockout punch. Every subject line example is based on our own data, plus five of the most common types of emails we all send.
Watch this video:
Then use the links below to see real-life examples of every subject line in action:
P.S. I’ll also share 3 bonus tips at the end, to make your emails really stand out in the inbox above everyone else.
After sending billions of emails to our customers and subscribers at Sumo, here are 10 of the best performing email subject lines we’ve uncovered:
|Subject Line||Open Rate|
|1. I was right - and that’s not good for you||69%|
|2. 13 email marketing trends you must know||64%|
|3. Before you write another blog post, read this||61%|
|4. Are we still on for 12?||61%|
|5. You don’t want FOMO do you?||60%|
|6. We’re starting in 5 HOURS||59%|
|7. Missed you, how’s Thursday?||59%|
|8. How 35 influencers grew their sites from 0-10K visitors||57%|
|9. It’s time to rethink Black Friday||57%|
|10. How to Google-proof your mobile site in 2017||53%|
These subject lines are the best of the best. But you’re going to need more than 10 killer subject lines to take your email marketing to the next level.
Below, I’ll share 77 more professional email subject line formulas to help you crush your email marketing targets.
You’ve spent hours crafting an EPIC piece of content, now you want people to read it.
One of the best ways to drive traffic directly to your latest piece of content is your mailing list.
For example, at Buffer, our mailing list is the #1 referrer to our new content on the day we launch it:
So if you’re not using your mailing list to promote your new content, you’re missing out on a ton of traffic.
Here are 23 subject line formulas you can use in your content promotion emails:
Groove HQ uses this little trick well to make opening emails about their latest blog posts more desirable:
This formula and example lead to one of Sumo’s best-performing emails with an open rate of 57%.
Check out a variation of this subject line formula, with first name personalization below:
Sumo used this exact headline and received an INCREDIBLE 46% open rate when we announced our name change from SumoMe to Sumo.
Here’s The Authority Figure email in action:
Check out this subject line being used by Drift below:
Check out a variation of this email from the UFC below:
You can see this subject line in action from Houzz:
This formula is used by Tim Ferriss when he’s promoting his latest podcast episodes and blog posts:
Hiten Shah used this subject line for his Product Habits email:
Here’s an example from Tim Ferriss:
If someone is on your mailing list, there’s a very good chance they’re interested in what you’re selling.
But turning your subscribers into paying customers is a tough trick for any marketer to master.
And before anyone parts with their hard earned money, you first have to have a subject line worthy of opening...
Here are 17 subject line formulas you can use in your sales emails:
Blinkist uses a variation of this formula to offer discounts to users on their mailing list:
If your product directly solves a problem for your audience (which it should), use this formula to grab their attention and entice them to open the email.
Here’s an example of this subject line from Onnit:
British burger restaurant Byron Burger used a variation of this subject line to promote one of their new recipes:
Tribe used a variation of this subject line to promote a recent sale:
Scarcity can boost open rates (and sales) massively. If there’s a time limit on the offer you’re emailing about or limited availability, tell your reader directly in the subject line.
We used the example subject line above to promote our Beacon partnership and it resulted in a 53% open rate.
Use this email subject line to speak directly to your audience and show them exactly how your product will benefit them.
Brain Dean quite often uses questions in his email subject lines:
Here’s an example of this subject line from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
If you’re running a business, you’ll have to send cold email. That’s just a fact.
For example, you might:
No matter what you’re trying to achieve, and how great your finely tuned email copy may be, you’ll fail if the recipient doesn’t open your email.
Here are 16 formulas you can use for cold email subject lines:
When LeadGenius tested various cold email subject lines, they found this one generated an AMAZING 86.6% open rate.[*]
Here’s an example of the Better Way subject line:
Onnit used this subject line formula in a recent campaign:
Whether you’re emailing someone you just met or trying to get a response from a cold call email, following up is incredibly important.
80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups. And 44% of salespeople give up after one attempt.[*]
If you’re not following up, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to grow your business.
Here are 13 formulas you can use for follow up email subject lines:
Here’s a super smart variation of this email from Virgin Atlantic to follow up with people who searched for flights on their website:
Justin Jackson used this subject line in a message to his email list:
Chances are your company sends a ton of transactional emails.
As these emails are usually triggered by customer actions, like making a purchase or signing up to your product, transactional emails have an open rate 8x higher than normal emails.[*]
But you still want to do everything in your power to ensure your transactional emails are opened. After all, they often contain super important information.
Here are 7 formulas to help you craft amazing transactional email subject lines.
Here’s an example welcome email:
Check out an example thank you email from Medium below:
The above email subject line examples and formulas will no doubt help you to improve your open rates.
But to truly maximize the potential of your emails, you’ll need to do a little experimenting and testing with your subject lines.
Here are three ways to further improve your open rates.
You could could try out a few of the formulas listed above with added emojis. For example:
But you should think about where your subscribers are opening their email.
In 2020 and beyond, it’s likely that the majority of your opens will come on mobile - around 66% of all email in the U.S. is now opened on smartphones or tablets.[*]
With smaller screens, you need to ensure your subject line fits within the allocated space. To help out, Campaign Monitor put together this handy chart showing the number of characters displayed on various mobile devices:[*]
To ensure your subject line appears correctly in every browser and device, try to keep it to between 30-60 characters.
Using time sensitive words like “urgent” and “important” can result in much higher open rates. Data from Mailchimp (since removed from their site) proves it:
Where applicable, try to weave these words into some of your subject line formulas to inspire action from your subscribers.
We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf and because not every email you send will need immediate action from the reader, it can be best to use this tip sparingly.
This means that when you do include time sensitive words in your subject line, your readers know they MUST act.
Many factors affect average open rates, including how your subscribers became subscribers in the first place, and if you’re sending an email to an extremely segmented part of your list.
But according to SmartInsights, after analyzing hundreds of millions of emails for MailChimp, they’ve found that the average email open rate is anywhere between 14% and 27% depending on the industry:[*]
Now, you don’t need to take these numbers as gospel. They’re skewed to smaller businesses using Mailchimp’s free account.
Yours can be lower depending on your situation, but if you can stay in the 14% - 27% range, you can be confident that you’re doing well.
You now have some of the most highly-coveted email subject lines at your disposal.
If you’d like to download a spreadsheet with all the subject line formulas and examples, so you can print it out to reference, click on the button below.
P.S. It’s now possible to send up to 10,000 emails per month on Sumo’s free plan. If you’d like to try out a new email marketing tool with high deliverability so all your subject lines get read, click here to get a free account.