The 87 BEST Email Subject Lines (Get Your Emails Opened Instantly)

Bonus Material: Best Email Subject Lines Worksheet

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.

Click here to get a worksheet with subject line formulas you can pick from and fill out when you send your next email!

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.

Part One: Sumo’s Best Email Subject Lines

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
2. 13 email marketing trends you must know
3. Before you write another blog post, read this
4. Are we still on for 12?
5. You don’t want FOMO do you?
6. We’re starting in 5 HOURS
7. Missed you, how’s Thursday?
8. How 35 influencers grew their sites from 0-10K visitors
9. It’s time to rethink Black Friday
10. How to Google-proof your mobile site in 2017

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. 

Part Two: Content Promotion Email Subject Lines

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:

Screenshot of mailing list referrer stats

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

1. The NEW Email

Groove HQ uses this little trick well to make opening emails about their latest blog posts more desirable:

GrooveHQ email subjects example

2. The Lessons Email

Tim ferriss interesting email subject example

3. The How They Done It Email

This formula and example lead to one of Sumo’s best-performing emails with an open rate of 57%

4. The Best Of Email

5. The You vs. The World Email

Check out a variation of this subject line formula, with first name personalization below:

Where do you rank email subject example

6. The Here’s Why We Email

Sumo used this exact headline and received an INCREDIBLE 46% open rate when we announced our name change from SumoMe to Sumo.

7. The My Big Mistake Email

8. The Authority Figure Email

Here’s The Authority Figure email in action: 

Tony Robbins email subject example

9. The Results Email

Check out this subject line being used by Drift below: 

Leadbot email subject example

10. The Urgency Email

Check out a variation of this email from the UFC below: 

UFC email subject example

11. The Case Study Email 

Case Study email subject example

12. The How To Email

Sumo 1000 subscribers email subject example

13. The School Of Email

14. The Do This Email

15. The Branded Newsletter Email

16. The Roundup Email

17. The Avoid These Email

You can see this subject line in action from Houzz: 

Houzz avoid email subject example

18. The Three-Pointer Email

  • Formula: [Topic 1], [Topic 2], and [Main Topic]
  • Example: UFC, sore thumbs, and power words 

This formula is used by Tim Ferriss when he’s promoting his latest podcast episodes and blog posts: 

Tim Ferriss email subject example

19. The Art Of Email

Hiten Shah used this subject line for his Product Habits email: 

Producthabits email subject example

20. The % Rule Email

21. The Most Interesting Email

Here’s an example from Tim Ferriss:

Most interesting tim ferriss email subject example

22. The Can’t Believe How Much You'll Love This Email

23. The Normally We Email

Part Three: Sales Email Subject Lines

Email marketing has a return of 44.25x

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

24. The Last Call Email

Blinkist uses a variation of this formula to offer discounts to users on their mailing list: 

Blinkist email subject example

25. The Problem Solver Email

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: 

ONNIT email subject example

26. The Try Out Email

British burger restaurant Byron Burger used a variation of this subject line to promote one of their new recipes: 

Byron Burger Club email subject example

27. The Flash Sale Email

Tribe used a variation of this subject line to promote a recent sale: 

TRIBE email subject example

28. The Limited Time Sale Email

  • Formula: [Time Left]: [What’s on offer] for [Discount]
  • Example: 48 hours left: 1 year of Beacon Unlimited for free

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.  

29. The Quick Announcement Email

foundr email subject example

30. The Call Out Email

Use this email subject line to speak directly to your audience and show them exactly how your product will benefit them. 

31. The Social Proof Email

32. The Don’t Buy This Email

33. The Versus Email

34. The Death Of Email

35. The Question Email

Brain Dean quite often uses questions in his email subject lines: 

Brian Dean email subject example

36. The “You” Email

37. The Imagine Result Email

Here’s an example of this subject line from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

Imagine America email subject example

38. The Seasonal Discount Email

  • Formula: Save [Discount] [Items] This [Season]!
  • Example: Save 25% on shoes this spring!

Last call email subject example

39. The "You Aren’t Using" Email

40. The Can’t Be Wrong Email

  • Formula: [Number] People Can’t Be Wrong
  • Example: 5,000 people can’t be wrong 

41. The Use This Email

Part Four: Cold Email Subject Lines

If you’re running a business, you’ll have to send cold email. That’s just a fact.

For example, you might:

  • Reach out to prospects to pitch your business.
  • Want to interview well-known influencers for your blog.
  • Meet industry VIPs and learn from the best.

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: 

42. The I Found You Through Email

  • Formula: I Found You Through [Contact First Name] [Contact Last Name]
  • Example: I Found You Through Mark Zuckerberg

When LeadGenius tested various cold email subject lines, they found this one generated an AMAZING 86.6% open rate.[*]

43. The Better Way Email

Here’s an example of the Better Way subject line:

Bteam webinar email subject example

44. The Real Reason Email

45. The Truth Email

Onnit used this subject line formula in a recent campaign: 

ONNIT truth email subject example

46. The Problem Email

47. The Specific Event Email

  • Formula: [Event Name] [Reason for Messaging]
  • Example: SumoCon 2020 Tickets 

48. The Let Me… Email

49. The Right Person Email

  • Formula: [Name], are you the correct contact?
  • Example: Bob, are you the correct contact?

50. The Can I Help Email

51. The Idea Email

52. The Content Share Email

53. The Your Goal Email

Nutmeg email subject example

54. The Found You On Email

  • Formula: Found you on [network/website]
  • Example: Found you on Twitter

55. The Helper Email

56. The Greeting Email

  • Formula: [Time of day], [Name]
  • Example: Afternoon, Ash

57. The Chat Email

Part Five: Follow Up Email Subject Lines

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: 

58. The We Discussed Email

  • Formula: Here’s the [topic] we discussed
  • Example: Here’s the quote we discussed

59. The Thanks For Your Time Email

  • Formula: [Name], thanks for your time [today, yesterday, last week]
  • Example: Chris, thanks for your time today

60. The We Still On Email

  • Formula: We still on for [Date/Time]?
  • Example: We still on for Tuesday?

Here’s a super smart variation of this email from Virgin Atlantic to follow up with people who searched for flights on their website:

"Still thinking?" reminder email subject example

61. The Ways To Get Started Email

  • Formula: [X] Ways to [Experience Growth] with [Product]
  • Example: 5 Ways to Kill Your Next Workout With Sumo Protein

62. The I Forgot Email

63. The We Haven’t Email

64. The Missed You Email

  • Formula: Missed you, how’s [Day]?
  • Example: Missed you, how’s Thursday?

65. The To-The-Point Question Email

  • Formula: What’s your [Question]
  • Example: What’s your calendar look like next Wed at 3pm?

Justin Jackson used this subject line in a message to his email list: 

To-the-point email subject example

66. The Follow Up ‘re:’ Email

67. The Awesome To Meet You Email

  • Formula: Awesome to Meet You at [Event/Place] [Date/Time]
  • Example: Awesome to Meet You at SumoCon Last Week

68. The Touching Base Email

  • Formula: Touching Base Regarding [Topic] [Date/Time]
  • Example: Touching Base Regarding Our Pitch Yesterday

69. The Quick Check In Email

70. The Steve Jobs Email

Part Six: Transactional Email Subject Lines 

Chances are your company sends a ton of transactional emails. 

Things like:

  • Welcome emails
  • Receipts
  • Billing reminders 

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. 

71. The Welcome Email

  • Formula: Welcome to [Brand/Name]!
  • Example: Welcome to Sumo!

Here’s an example welcome email: 

Wealthify email subject example

72. The Let’s Get Started Email

  • Formula: Welcome to [Brand/Name] - [Action encouraged]
  • Example: Welcome to Warby Parker! Try on some glasses now

73. The Thank You Email

  • Formula: [Business name]: Thank you for being a customer
  • Example: Dollar Shave Club: Thank you for being a customer

Check out an example thank you email from Medium below: 

Medium thank you email subject example

74. The Reminder Email

  • Formula: [Date/Time] You [Action took]
  • Example: Last Wednesday You Added Nike Running Shoes to your basket

75. The Order Email

  • Formula: Your order of [product name]
  • Example: Your order of Spiderman 3

76. The Next Steps Email

  • Formula: Welcome to [product name] - [next steps]
  • Example: Welcome to Uber - here’s how to take your first ride

77. The Action Required Email

  • Formula: Action Required: [Task]
  • Example: Action Required: Confirm Your Email Address

Action required email subject example

3 Bonus Tips To Improve Your Email Subject Lines

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. 

1. Experiment with emojis

A report from Experian (since removed from their site) found that 56% of brands using emojis in their email subject lines saw a higher open rate on their emails.

You could could try out a few of the formulas listed above with added emojis. For example:

  • Welcome to Sumo! ?
  • The problem with cheap running shoes ?
  • The best marketing guides of 2020 ❤️

The below chart from Mailchimp shows the most popular emojis used in subject lines:[*] 

Graph of most popular emojis used in subject lines

2. Test various lengths

For most businesses, there’s no link between subject line length and open rates  

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:[*]

Table that shows number of characters displayed on different email clients

To ensure your subject line appears correctly in every browser and device, try to keep it to between 30-60 characters. 

3. Use one time sensitive words

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: 

Screenshot showing email time sensitivity graph

Where applicable, try to weave these words into some of your subject line formulas to inspire action from your subscribers. 

For example: 

  • Important: 21 Lessons I Learned by Exercising Every Morning
  • Sale Alert: 20% Off Sumo Pro
  • Breaking: Warren Buffet’s investing secret

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. 

Benchmarking Your Email Open Rates

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:[*]

Screenshot showing email benchmark across industries

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.

Skyrocket Your Open Rates With Irresistible Email Subject Lines 

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.

Get The Free Email Subject Line Worksheet

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.