The BEST email subject lines: 62 formulas to get your emails read

Skyrocket open rates with this massive list of subject line formulas so your subscribers ACTUALLY read your emails.

Bonus Material: Free Email Subject Line 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 emails your list will actually open and read.

Even worse, when you do figure out what to say, your open rates aren’t anywhere near where you wish they’d be.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, coming up with the best email subject line to get your email actually read is a common problem, especially when emails are being sent to your subscribers by everyone and their moms.

Get Your Free Subject Line Worksheet Here!

Let’s first pinpoint what the average email open rate is, so you can have an idea of where you stand. From there, we can blow those averages right out of the water.

best email subject lines

Demystifying The Average Email Open Rate

Many factors affect the average open rates, including how your subscribers became subscribers in the first place and if you’re sending an email to extremely segmented part of your list.

But according to Mailchimp (reported on by SmartInsights) after analyzing hundreds of millions of emails, they’ve found that the average email open rate is anywhere between 15% and 25% depending on the industry:

Now, you don’t need to take these numbers as gospel. Yours can be lower depending on your situation, but if you can stay in the 15%-25% range, you can be confident that you’re doing well.

But why are these numbers meaningful?

And most importantly, what can increasing your email open rates do for your business?

Why You Need To Keep An Eye On Your Open Rates

When you open your autoresponder dashboard, you’ll get a bunch of numbers like:

  • Click-Through Rates
  • Bounce Rates
  • Open Rates
  • Complaints
  • And more...

All of these numbers can be significant, but the simple truth is this:

You need your email to be opened before you can collect any other data.

In fact…

Your email needs to be opened before you can actually make a sale from your email list.

And besides your “from” line, the biggest factor to getting your emails opened is your email subject line.

The best email subject lines will practically force your subscriber to pay attention to your email in their already flooded inbox, open it, and read what you have to say.

And just to prove it to you, tell me… which one of these two emails would you rather read?

OR

At least for me, I opened the first one immediately. The second one, well...I still have no idea what’s inside.

Email subject lines are your subscriber’s first point of contact between your email in their inbox, and act just like headlines. This is why email subject lines are critical.

The only problem with email subject lines is that you need to come up with a lot of them from scratch. In fact, if you are emailing your list frequently, you’re probably writing a lot of email!

Fortunately, I foresaw this and curated 62 formulas you can use as of right now to increase your open rates and sales derived from each email.

Now, if for some reason anything above has you dazed or confused, this brand-new, authentic CopyMonk comic will fix you right up!

Watch as Lee sets out on a journey to find the ancient Jade scroll of email subject lines so he can use it to get more people to open his emails and make more sales. Plus, don’t forget to check out the amazing martial arts fighting moves from the Sumo clan featuring Noah Kagan, Sarah Peterson, and Wilson Hung!

best email subject lines

The Jade Scroll Of The Best Email Subject Lines

Next time you’re grasping for an email subject line just plug your information into these formulas:

The Last Call Email

  • Formula: Last call: [Name Of Product] closes in [#] hours
  • Example: Last call: SEO That Works closes in 3 hours

The Urgency Email

  • Formula: [Action] Now
  • Example: Open this right now

The List Email

  • Formula: The [#] way to [Benefit]
  • Example: The top 5 ways to burn fat fast

The Welcome Email

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

The Don’t Buy This Email

  • Formula: Don’t buy [Product Name] until you read this
  • Example: Don’t buy Welcome Mat until you read this

The Case Study Email

  • Formula: [Case Study] [Result of Case Study]
  • Example: [Case Study] Mother of 3 earns first $30,000 online

The How To Email

  • Formula: How To [Achieve Desired Result]
  • Example: How To Type Faster

The School Of Email

  • Formula: [Insert Celebrity] School Of [Topic]
  • Example: Bruce Lee’s School Of Self Defense

The Do This Email

  • Formula: Do THIS [Benefit]
  • Example: Do THIS if you want her to be your girlfriend

The Branded Newsletter Email

  • Formula: [Name of Newsletter] [Issue #]
  • Example: The Traffic & Conversion Newsletter #24

The New Post Email

  • Formula: [New Post] [Blog Post Headline]
  • Example: New Post: How to fix your iphone

The What If Email

  • Formula: What if [Negative Result]
  • Example: What if Youtube shutdown

The Versus Email

  • Formula: [Subject] vs [Subject]
  • Example: Fake businesses vs real businesses

The “We’re Hiring” Email

  • Formula: [Brand] is hiring!
  • Example: CopyMonk is hiring!

The Mistakes Email

  • Formula: [Number] [Topic] Mistakes You’re Making
  • Example: 21 fat loss mistakes you’re making

The Product Q&A Email

  • Formula: [Number] [Topic] Mistakes You’re Making
  • Example: 21 fat loss mistakes you’re making

The Roundup Email

  • Formula: [Number] experts [Topic]
  • Example: 10 experts share their favorite marketing tools

The Authority Email

  • Formula: [Authority’s Name] [Topic + Secret/Tips]
  • Example: Warren Buffet’s investing secret

The Flash Sale Email

  • Formula: [Flash Sale] [Name of Product] [Discount]
  • Example: Flash Sale: Ogilvy on Advertising 50% Off

The Avoid Email

  • Formula: Avoid These [Number] [Topic] [Pitfalls/Mistakes]
  • Example: Avoid these 10 copywriting mistakes

The What I Learned Email

  • Formula: What I Learned After [Accomplishment]
  • Example: What I learned after spending $100,000 in FB ads

The Death Of Email

  • Formula: The Death Of [Topic]
  • Example: The death of blogging

The Command Email

  • Formula: Stop [Action]!
  • Example: Stop reading the news!

The Quick Announcement Email

  • Formula: Quick Announcement: [Topic]
  • Example: Quick announcement: The complete web developer course is here

The 180 Contrast Email

  • Formula: [Opposite vs Opposite]
  • Example: Little man decimates 200lb attacker

The Call Out Email

  • Formula: [Audience] [Topic]
  • Example: SaaS owners! Here’s how to reduce your churn rate

The Social Proof Email

  • Formula: Proof That [Product] Works
  • Example: Proof that 30 days to shredded works

The Results Email

  • Formula: How We [Result] In [Timeframe]
  • Example: How we got 100k uniques in 6 months

The Question Email

  • Formula: [Question]
  • Example: Am I the only one with a million questions?

The “You” Email

  • Formula: You, A [Desired Result]?
  • Example: You, a best selling author?

The Imagine Email

  • Formula: Imagine [Desired Result]
  • Example: Imagine being able to travel around the world

The Little Known Email

  • Formula: [Number] Little Known Ways To [Action]
  • Example: 3 little known ways to build your email list

The Hack Email

  • Formula: [Number] Hacks To [Desired Result]
  • Example: 15 hacks to read faster

The New York Shocker Email

  • Formula: [Subject] Shocked By [Unusual Thing/Person]
  • Example: Gary Vaynerchuk shocked by weird FB ads

The National Inquirer Email

  • Formula: Man/Woman/Kid [Weird Action/Thing]
  • Example: Man writes sales letter with straws

The Three-Point Email

  • Formula: [Topic 1], [Topic 2], and [Main Topic]
  • Example: UFC, sore thumbs, and email copy

The Seasonal Discount Email

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

The I Love Email

  • Formula: I [Adjective] Love Topic]
  • Example: I freaking love copywriting

The Advice Email

  • Formula: [Topic] Advice To all [target market]
  • Example: Fashion advice to all millennials

The Real Reason Email

  • Formula: The Real Reason [Target Market] [Attracted To Product/Topic]
  • Example: The real reason men want to learn pick up

The Tao Of Email

  • Formula: The Tao Of [Topic]
  • Example: The tao of email marketing

The Lessons Email

  • Formula: [Topic] Lessons From A [Weird Source]
  • Example: Programming lessons from a real life ninja

The Possibly Email

  • Formula: Possibly The [Smartest/Dumbest] Way To [Action]
  • Example: Possibly the dumbest way to train a dog

The Nazi Email

  • Formula: The [Topic] Nazi
  • Example: The wine nazi

The Never Met Email

  • Formula: The Most [Hated/Loved] [Person] You’ve Never Met
  • Example: The most loved salonist you’ve never met

The Big Mistake Email

  • Formula: My Big [Topic] Mistake
  • Example: My big self defense mistake

The Truth Email

  • Formula: The Truth About [Topic/Person]
  • Example: The truth about abs

The Problem Email

  • Formula: The Problem With [Insert Problem]
  • Example: The problem with pricing too low

The Art Of Email

  • Formula: The Art Of [Topic]
  • Example: The art of gaming

The % Rule Email

  • Formula: The [Percentage] Rule Of [Topic]
  • Example: The 47% rule of building a business

The Most Interesting Email

  • Formula: The Most Interesting [Person] In The World
  • Example: The most interesting shoe shiner in the world

The Best Of Email

  • Formula: The Best Of [Brand]
  • Example: The best of Sumo

The Most Common Mistakes Email

  • Formula: The Most Common [Topic] Mistakes [Target Market] Make
  • Example: The most common health mistakes seniors make

The Can’t Believe Email

  • Formula: Can’t believe how much you’ll love this [product]
  • Example: Can’t believe how much you’ll love this app

The Normally Email

  • Formula: Normally We [Do Something]. You Get It [New Way]
  • Example: Normally we charge $500 for this advice. You get it free.

The Can’t Be Wrong Email

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

The Rags To Riches Email

  • Formula: From [Rags] To [Riches]
  • Example: From homeless to Fortune 500 CEO

The Try Out Email

  • Formula: Try Out [Product] For Yourself
  • Example: Try out Sumo for yourself

The Use This Email

  • Formula: Use This [Thing]
  • Example: Use this workout plan

The He/She Lost/Gained Email

  • Formula: She gained [Result]...and blamed me!
  • Example: Possibly the dumbest way to train a dog

The War Email

  • Formula: The War Against [Enemy]
  • Example: The war against the fitness industry

The Great Hoax Email

  • Formula: The Great [Topic] Hoax [Optional Time/Place]!
  • Example: The great content marketing hoax of 2016!

Why Do These Email Subject Lines Work?

A good email subject line is designed to get your ideal readers attention.

The only question is how do you actually do that.

To answer that question, Gary Bencivenga, the world’s greatest living copywriter, came up with this equation after analyzing some of the best headlines ever used in direct mail:

Interest = Benefit + Curiosity

In other words, I should be able to read your email subject line, feel like I’m going to get something out of it and wonder what the rest of the email is going to say.

And this is why these email subject line formulas above work. Even the most basic and straight-forward email subject lines display some kind of benefit (whether it’s education-based or entertainment-based) and are structured to make you at least wonder what could be inside of it.

Check out how Ramit Sethi uses this same formula to consistently come up with some of the best email subject lines in my inbox: emails that get opened and lead to millions of dollars in revenue.

Even though I don’t know the exact open rates rates of these emails, you can bet that these did very well.

In fact, I remember opening 5 of the 7 emails the moment I saw them appear in my inbox. My favorite of the bunch being “Behind the scenes of a $5 million week (on Tim Ferriss’ site).

To start writing email subject lines like Ramit, make sure to “The Versus Email” subject line template.

Launch Subject Lines Example: Brian Dean

Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, sells a premium SEO course called SEO The Works. Unlike most products, he only sells his course periodically to his email list.

Yet, whenever he does, he generates more revenue in a few days than most people online earn in years.

Above is a screenshot of some of those email subject lines during his most recent re-launch of SEO That Works. All of them are great examples of subject lines during a launch, with my favorite one being “New Case Studies: 19 People. 19 Success Stories”.

To create your own version of his case studies subject line, make sure to use The Case Study Email template.

Content-Only Email Examples: GrooveHQ

If the majority of your emails are straight email to blog posts like GrooveHQ does, then you’re going to want to get on their email list and study how they do it. As you can see, they are pretty straight-forward and simple since the majority of their subject line is the headline of the post itself.

However, look at how they use the word “new” to make opening their emails even more desirable.

To start writing emails like GrooveHQ, make sure to use the New Post Email.

Skyrocket Your Open Rates With Irresistible Email Subject Lines

You now have the highly-coveted “Jade Scroll of Email Subject Lines” at your disposal.

In this post, I revealed to you why email subject lines matters, what makes a good email subject line, gave you all of the best email subject lines templates, and then over-delivered with even more email subject line examples being used right now by some of the biggest names in online marketing.

All there’s left to do now is to actually go use these subject lines templates.

So just scroll up, pick your favorite and most needed subject line formula, and have at it. Remember, because you’re not limited to how many emails you send, you have the flexibility to test different subject line templates.

Now, my final question to you is… which of the subject lines above do you like best?

Get Your Free Subject Line Worksheet Here!

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