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Feb 27, 2020

Best Email Subject Lines to Increase Your Engagement Rate

The best email subject lines can improve your overall engagement rate. Get email subject line examples and tips on how to craft the right one.

The best email subject lines not only capture the reader’s attention, but give them a legitimate reason to open the message. It’s a setup-payoff scenario, with your subject line setting up an expectation and the body of your email making good on the payoff.


An estimated 300 billion emails crisscross the planet every day, yet as many as half of them are either filtered to spam or sent there by the user before they’re ever opened. That means on average, every other email your brand works hard to craft has a chance of being missed by subscribers. One of the biggest factors at play? The subject line.

Here, we’ll share five tips for creating winning subject lines that will help get more of your messages opened, with email subject line examples for each one. We’ll show you how to carefully choose your words to boost your engagement rate, which will ultimately help your brand drive more conversions through email. 


1. Keep it short

Woman on her mobile device opening emails with short subject lines.
It’s tough for your subscribers to fully engage with your subject line if they can’t read all of it. That’s why your best bet is to keep the majority of your subject lines on the briefer side.

The iPhone’s mail app, which limits the display of subject lines to a mere 41 characters, accounts for the largest volume of email use, followed by Gmail, which displays 70 characters. That means if your subject line is more than eight to 10 words, it’s likely to get cut off for most users. Keeping your subject lines short ensures they’re not only readable but easy to skim at a glance, too.

Writing short subject lines takes some creativity, but with a little practice, you’ll find most longer ones can be cut down without losing their meaning. Here are some examples:

  • Instead of this: These floral styles belong in your closet for spring (52 characters); Try this: Closet-worthy spring florals (28 characters)
  • Instead of this: The top restaurants for your upcoming trip to New York (51 characters); Try this: Where to eat on your NY visit (29 characters) 

2. Create urgency

Earlier we touched on the setup-payoff concept that’s found in the best email subject lines. This method works so well because consumers are wired to want to avoid missing out. Ever heard of FOMO? Then it should come as no surprise why subject lines with urgency are so effective.

You can create urgency in a couple of different ways. The first is to mention a time limit, like “sale ends tomorrow!” In fact, “tomorrow” is a great word to zero in on; studies found that subject lines including that word saw 10 percent higher open rates.

The second way to create urgency is to mention limited quantities. Airlines are notorious for using this tactic with lines like, “only two seats left at this price!” Just be sure that if you use the limited-quantity approach, it’s actually legitimate. There’s no faster way to lose your credibility with customers than by saying you’re almost sold out, only to have full stock available on your website the next day. 
Here are some email subject line examples using urgency:

  • Final hours for 40% off!
  • Ends tomorrow: free gift with purchase
  • Jonas Brothers tickets are almost sold out!
  • Only 12 autographed copies available 

3. Use emojis 

If you’re someone who likes to keep business communications on the formal side, hearing this piece of advice might make you cringe. The fact is, though, consumers love emojis and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
This is the fire emoji because using emojis in subject lines is fire
According to Experian, 56 percent of brands that used emojis in their subject lines saw a higher open rate, while the use of emojis in email marketing messages increased 775 percent from 2015 to 2016. When you consider that roughly two-thirds of email opens happen via a mobile device, it makes sense that capitalizing on a feature mobile users love can boost your engagement rate.

The key to including emojis in your subject lines is to use them in moderation. Even better, A/B test identical subject lines with and without an emoji to get a clear understanding of which is more effective with your audience. 

Try these ideas to start incorporating emojis into your subject lines:

  • Have you seen these new releases? 👀
  • The 🕑 is ticking down on this sale
  • Get the job done faster 💪
  • Our customers ❤️ this bestseller 

4. Add personalization

Personalization is a must for a successful email marketing program. Customers are exponentially more likely to convert when you send them the right message at the right time versus a generic message that’s not relevant to them. One way to do this is by using tags to personalize your subject lines.

According to a 2018 survey of marketers, respondents said using AI for email personalization increased their click-through rates by 13 percent and their resulting revenue by 41 percent. Those are some impressive gains in engagement rate from a single tweak.

The easiest way to start using personalization is with the customer’s name, but you can also capitalize on other data you’ve gathered, like their location and birthday. Pet sitting services like even use your pet’s name in their emails!
For inspiration, check out these personalized example subject lines:

  1. [NAME], your birthday gift is inside
  2. We’re headed to [CITY]! ✈️
  3. You’ll love these jeans, [NAME] 

5. Make an offer

The best email gift is an offer or promotion. Make sure the subject line mentions it.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with harnessing your onsite data to guide your email marketing activities. Don’t let a customer get away empty-handed. Instead, when they take an action on your website, follow up with an email to make them an offer that will help close the sale. Hook them with the offer in your subject line.

This tactic can be used to follow up on abandoned carts, check-in with previous customers who haven’t shopped in a while, reward your most frequent buyers and more.

Try one of these offer-based subject lines:

  • Here’s $5 off to finish checking out
  • Save 20% when you come back and shop now
  • A free gift for our most loyal customers 

Send highly engaging emails with ease


Springbot’s user-friendly email editor makes creating and sending beautiful, engaging emails a breeze. Action-based triggers help you send the right message at the right time, while customizable blocks allow you to create a look that suits your brand with no complicated coding. Schedule your free demo today to see how Springbot can help you transform your email marketing into a powerful revenue engine.

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