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101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2017

Welcome to the 5th annual installment of DigitalMarketer’s 101 Best Email Subject Lines!

Contained within this post are more than 500 highly swipeable headlines you can snag for your business’ email marketing:

Every year we try to give you a little bit extra with this post, and since this is the 5th anniversary, I decided to review our archives to see how DigitalMarketer’s subject lines have changed over the past five years – use this as inspiration in your email marketing in the coming year!

(RELATED: Following Email Marketing Best Practices)

Emails Sent by Year

As you can see, our sent emails jumped enormously this year.

Graph showing DigitalMarketer emails sent from 2014-2017

We’ve held pretty steady in the past, but 2017 knocked it out of the water (unfortunately, 2013 mails were sent through a legacy system and that total is lost forever).

This year we sent 181,177,569 emails, a 68% jump in emails compared to 2016.

There are two reasons for this.

  1. First, we put a lot of energy into improving our technology systems this year. And as a result, we were able to recover more than 100,000 email subscribers that had been lost due to system inefficiencies through the years.
  1. Second, in 2017, we committed to sending more targeted emails to our customers. We created a role at DigitalMarketer specifically focused on identifying high-value customer segments and crafting offers and messages that spoke to them. This allowed us to increase the overall number of emails sent – and our revenue from email – without changing our regular broadcast email strategy.

Best Open Rate of the Year

It wasn’t just our sent emails that increased the past five years. Our top open rate has buoyed upwards as well – very steadily.

DigitalMarketer's open rates from 2013-2017

The primary reason we’ve seen our best open rate climb ever upwards has been an ever-increasing focus on list hygiene.

While we’re always experimenting with new ways to boost open rates (and our amazing copywriters deserve a shout-out here), we have also invested more energy into reengaging subscribers and removing those who don’t want our emails any longer.

Compare the open rates for these two subject lines:

“Good news for people who love bad news…” (2013) – 9.6%

“I have good news and bad news…” (2017) – 15.7%

"Maintaining a clean email list is one of the highest-leveraged activities you can do."Yeah, sometimes we swipe from ourselves. 🙂

Of course, these aren’t exactly the same but the two subject lines contain similar elements. And while both made the top 10 best in their respective year, the open rate was 64% higher in 2017.

This goes to show that maintaining a clean email list is one of the highest-leveraged activities you can do.

Subject Line Types by Year

This is a more complex graph, so I’ll talk through it a bit more.

This graph illustrates what messaging our audience responded to most each year, broken down into eight fundamental types of subject lines (more on that in a bit).

This graph illustrates what messaging our audience responded to most each year, broken down into eight fundamental types of subject lines

After 2013, there was a marked increase in performance of curiosity-based subject lines and a similar decrease in scarcity based subject lines.

It’s natural that curiosity-based subject lines would become more powerful as the inbox gets more crowded.

In 2015, 205 billion emails were sent per day. Now, in 2017, that number climbed 31% to 269 billion emails sent per day.

So, using subject lines that make people stop, think, and wonder is a great way to compete in a harder market.

Scarcity, on the other hand, is a powerful tool but is best used conservatively as its impact diminishes the more it’s put into play. And while scarcity is a great driver of sales, it is often less effective at driving your overall open rate up.

So, rather than blasting them out to everyone, we’ve shifted our focus to sending scarcity mails to smaller audience segments that have expressed interest in the product.

"Scarcity, on the other hand, is a powerful tool but is best used conservatively..."You may also note that our offer subject lines were put into play significantly more after 2013. That’s because, as a company, we’ve gotten more comfortable leading with the value of the product, service, or content we were promoting.

Finally, you can also use this to some extent to understand how well DigitalMarketer utilizes each of the subject line types.

While some subject lines will always be more successful (Curiosity and Self-Interest, I’m looking at you) there should be reasonable representation of each type.

My big takeaway from this is that we seriously under-utilize social proof as a subject line type, a note I’ll definitely pass along to our copywriting staff.

Speaking of the fundamental types of subject lines, before we dive into our 101 winners, let’s review these common elements. There are eight different components we found again and again in our top performing email subject lines…

(NOTE: Tired of your email marketing being mostly guess work? Use this plug and play guide and tracking sheet to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy. Learn more now!)

Get your free guide to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy.

1 – Self-Interest

These are your bread and butter subject lines – you should be using them most frequently.

They are usually direct and speak to a specific benefit your audience will gain by opening the email.

Self-interest subject lines also help pre-qualify openers by giving them a clue about your email’s body content.

2 – Curiosity

If self-interest subject lines work because they communicate a direct benefit of opening the email, curiosity-based ones succeed for the exact opposite reason.

They pique the interest of subscribers without giving away too much information, leading to higher opens. "They pique the interest of subscribers without giving away too much information, leading to higher opens."

Be careful though because curiosity-based subject lines can get old fast and are the most likely to miss their mark.

3 – Offer

Do you like free stuff? Do you like to buy things?

So does your email list.

When you are giving something away or selling something your subscribers would be interested in, directly stating that in your subject line is a great way to convince them to open the email and learn more.

4 – Urgency/Scarcity

This is the most powerful type of subject line you have at your disposal.

Subject lines that communicate urgency and scarcity tell readers they must act now"This is the most powerful type of subject line you have at your disposal."

Too many of these can lead to list exhaustion so use sparingly and, of course, only when there is truly a deadline, limited quantity, or limited availability.

5 – Humanity

Don’t forget to remind your list about the person or people behind your products.

Sometimes you need to thank your subscribers, tell them a story about yourself, or make a human appeal for their attention.

6 – News

Keeping your audience informed about new developments in your field builds authority and keeps your open rates high.

These subject lines often work well when combined with a curiosity element.

7 – Social Proof

A fundamental characteristic of humans is that we look to the behavior of others when making decisions.

You can leverage this in your email subject lines by mentioning individual’s success stories, familiar names, or highlighting how many people are already using a product or service.

8 – Story

Telling a story, or at least teasing the beginning of one, in your subject line is a unique way to highlight a benefit and get the open rate you’re looking for.

Ready for the subject lines? As is our tradition, we’ll start with our top 10 best!

  1. I promise it’s worth it…
  • Content: Launch a Podcast Execution Plan Flash Sale
  • Open Rate: 15.41%
  • Analysis: This is a very blind subject line that basically says, “trust me – click this.” Its success relies completely on the existing relationship between subscriber and sender. Using a line like this only works if there is a certain level of trust, but it certainly paid off here.
  1. 4 Critical Questions Every Business Must Answer
  • Content: Free Video Training
  • Open Rate: 15.64%
  • Analysis: Specific, odd numbers in subject lines always stand out. And this one combines that eye-catching trick with a powerful piece of value – focusing questions for any and all business owners. This subject line also intentionally speaks to a broad audience, which helped buoy the open rate.
  1. I have good news and bad news…
  • Content: Intensive Workshop
  • Open Rate: 15.73%
  • Analysis: Another great curiosity-based option, this one works so well because it feels honest and conversational. It plays on a familiar idiom and the willingness to admit the contents are not all sunshine (and curiosity about what earned the qualifier “bad”) is a compelling reason to click.
  1. [VIDEO] Social Media + Ecommerce Tech Stack 
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 16.25%
  • Analysis: Calling out unique forms of content is a great way to cut through the noise. There are many other examples including [Checklist] and [Poll] that cracked our top 101. This one is also helped by the fact that software and “tech stacks” are a hot button topic for DM subscribers.
  1. 🔨 Let’s fix your offer together
  • Content: Intensive Workshop (Perfect Offer)
  • Open Rate: 16.66%
  • Analysis: Getting customized or hands-on assistance is powerful when you know the expert, so this kind of email works well when there’s a “voice” behind your emails. Additionally, the implication that your offer may need some work will resonate with the perfect audience for this offer – it’s a great example of qualifying a prospect with the subject line.
  1. Hiring a content marketer? Use this guide…
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 17.09%
  • Analysis: This is another great qualifying subject line and makes a strong offer. It’s a great example of how effective copywriting is even with just the bare essentials – there’s a clear pain point (hiring) and the answer you need (the guide) squeezed in just seven words. Hemingway, eat your heart out.
  1. ⚠️ Your private invitation expires tomorrow night
  • Content: Intensive Workshop (PSS)
  • Open Rate: 17.31%
  • Analysis: This subject line uses second person language (“your”) to really build curiosity about the invitation. Coupling that with the urgency of an impending expiration, you’ve got a recipe for a click. The subject line feels personal, exclusive, and urgent all at once.
  1. Sales ⬆, Refunds ⬇, Retention
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 17.47%
  • Analysis: Leveraging emojis and symbols in your subject line always gives you a bump in open rates and this one triples down on them. The pattern and repetition are very eye-catching in the inbox and clearly communicate value without needing to give a hint to the topic.
  1. Google Display Network (Your one page cheat sheet)
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 18.77%
  • Analysis: There’s a clear offer here – the one-page cheat sheet – and a more indirect one as well: the simplification of a very complex and powerful traffic platform. This subject line makes a daunting topic feel digestible, and the promise of finding more traffic is always a winning hook.
  1. T&C 2017 in Bora Bora?
  • Content: T&C Livestream
  • Open Rate: 19.51%
  • Analysis: A classic DigitalMarketer headline if there ever was one. This combines elements of curiosity and self-interest with an attention-getting destination that’s sure to pique curiosity. The pattern interrupt of a relocated T&C always jumps out and the natural repetition in Bora Bora’s name does the open rate a favor as well.

Not enough subject lines for you?

Good news! We’ve also got the next 90 best performers and a breakdown of the elements that helped them win:

  • Convince your boss to send you to T&C! – Self-Interest
  • T&C Closing TOMORROW @ Midnight! – Scarcity
  • Copy our 7 best Facebook ads of 2016 – Self-Interest
  • Start using this new Facebook ad type – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • [Flash Sale] 85% off our Podcast Launch Plan – Offer
  • What happens when you’re approved? – Curiosity
  • Your Content Campaign Planner (Google doc) – Offer
  • [EMAIL TEMPLATE] Fix your company’s biggest marketing issue – Offer | Self-Interest
  • #TCS2017: Day 1 Highlights – News
  • [In Case You Missed It] Hire The Right Content Marketer… – Self-Interest
  • [LAST CHANCE] 85% off sale ends today! – Scarcity
  • [CHECKLIST] Get up to 20% better email deliverability – Offer
  • 🔥 New Facebook Group features – this is BIG – News | Curiosity
  • The Best of Traffic & Conversion Summit 2017 – Self-Interest
  • Livestream for T&C this year? – Curiosity
  • Tomorrow’s the day… – Curiosity
  • #TCS2017: Day 2 Highlights – News
  • Swipe these 5 killer traffic campaigns – Offer | Self-Interest
  • The 30-Second Sales Pitch – Curiosity
  • Massive changes coming to DM – Story | Curiosity
  • [Infographic] How to have the ultimate #TCS2017 experience – Self-Interest
  • Is this you? – Curiosity
  • Open up for our best content – Self-Interest
  • Facebook + Pinterest + Video = More Closed Sales – Self-Interest
  • You’re Invited – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Paid traffic not converting? Download this… – Curiosity | Offer
  • Here’s the REAL reason Amazon is buying Whole Foods – News | Story
  • I knew I was right… – Story | Curiosity
  • ⏰ FINAL NOTICE: “Perfect Offer Mini-Class” – Scarcity
  • Russ surprised me with 18 more sessions – Humanity | Story
  • Digital Marketing Mastery is open! – Offer
  • Brand NEW (and free) Training: 3 Steps To a Perfect Offer – Offer
  • How we got 1,329,572 “earballs” in 20 months – Story | Curiosity
  • This, friends, is how you sell with email… – Story | Social Proof
  • Class closes down tonight… – Scarcity
  • Important message (about tomorrow’s big announcement) – Curiosity
  • $7 today, $47 tomorrow – Scarcity | Curiosity
  • The 30-Second Sales Pitch – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Blog posts that sell (a complete guide) – Self-Interest
  • The guy who made $1,015,209 in one day… on Amazon – Story | Curiosity
  • 🔨 Let’s build the perfect FB ad campaign, together (for free)! – Self-Interest
  • 🎁 Claim your free heat map! – Offer
  • The highest-level training we offer – Curiosity
  • T&C 2017 closing soon? – Scarcity | Curiosity
  • Re: Frequently Asked Question #1 – Curiosity
  • [Subscriber] Are you familiar with T&C? – Curiosity
  • 🚀 Your perfect product launch for $7 – Offer
  • Landing Page Not Converting? Try This! – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Join me today at 3pm – Humanity
  • Ask me anything? – Humanity | Curiosity
  • LAST CALL FOR T&C TICKETS (hours left) – Scarcity
  • [85% Off] 3 Proven Facebook Campaigns to Run Today… – Offer
  • Join me in congratulating… – Humanity | Curiosity
  • For advanced marketers only! – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • The BIG shift that’s happening right now (and what it means for you) – News | Self-Interest
  • T&C Tickets almost GONE! – Scarcity
  • [POLL] Can you answer this? – Curiosity
  • ⚡️ [FLASH SALE] My 11-step business launch plan (and templates) – Offer
  • T&C 2017 Agenda – Self-Interest
  • Finally monetize your email list… – Self-Interest
  • Earn your (super-rare) “CDMP Designation” – Self-Interest
  • Announcing the 2nd Annual Content & Commerce Summit – News
  • [Subscriber] Exclusive T&C offer ending TOMORROW – Scarcity | Offer
  • [Free PDF Download] Claim our Social Media Swipe File – Offer
  • T&C in the comfort of your home… – Curiosity
  • BONUS MODULE ADDED: How to scale with Google & YouTube – Self-Interest
  • Marketing professionals wanted! – Self-Interest
  • Does your landing page suck?… or is it ‘perfect’? 😊 – Curiosity
  • ⏰ LAST CHANCE: T&C closes tonight – Scarcity
  • Your 2018 Business Growth Plan – Offer | Curiosity
  • Do NOT launch your product or service without this… – Curiosity
  • Who’s speaking at T&C? – News | Curiosity
  • [CASE STUDY] 30 minutes of work -> 82,613 pageviews – Self-Interest | Story
  • WIN a day with Ryan Deiss & Molly Pittman! – Humanity | Self-Interest
  • Meet me in LA, NAME? – Humanity | Curiosity
  • The little Facebook tweak that halved lead cost – Curiosity | Story
  • Does your ad type match your offer? – Self-Interest
  • ❄ Turn ice cold prospects into buyers 🔥 – Self-Interest
  • Exciting announcement (and special invitation)* – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • How he built a $20M ecommerce brand – Story | Curiosity
  • 🎯 Facebook Targeting Expansion: The Test (and the results…) – Self-Interest
  • At DigitalMarketer, we LOVE agencies… – Humanity | Curiosity
  • [ANNOUNCEMENT] C&C 2017 lineup revealed… – News
  • A new DigitalMarketer event… – Curiosity
  • Free Online Training: OMG’s 90-Day System – Offer
  • Surveys are not the answer… – Curiosity
  • Facebook’s newest feature: setup, strategy, examples – News | Self-Interest
  • NAME, meet Justin. – Humanity
  • [New Blog Post] Use FB Messenger to grow your business – Self-Interest
  • Email list building: Why you’re stuck – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Are you using Facebook’s powerful new advertising feature? – Curiosity | News

Download our best email subject lines of 2017!

Don’t stop there!

We’ll start with our ten best email subject lines of 2016…

  1. How “Ryan Deiss” became “DigitalMarketer”
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 14.61%
  • Analysis: This subject line appeals to people’s human nature. It promises a compelling narrative, DigitalMarketer’s origin story, and reminds readers that a person started this company, emphasizing a human connection.
  1. Don’t buy this from Amazon!
  • Content: Invisible Selling Machine
  • Open Rate: 14.64%
  • Analysis: This is an old standby, and has worked time and time again. It’s a perfect example of what successful curiosity-based subject should do – generate an emotional reaction without giving away the email’s purpose.
  1. [DOWNLOAD] 15-Point Landing Page Audit
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 14.97%
  • Analysis: This kind of subject line (and email) is the very definition of value-first content. A free download that is intended to give audiences the opportunity to self-identify as interested in this topic.
  1. I called. You didn’t answer.
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 15.05%
  • Analysis: Just reading this subject line makes me feel a little guilty! While it doesn’t take something away, it creates a sense of urgency similar to an expiring offer. And of course, using “I” in a subject line is a great way to humanize email copy.
  1. [DECLASSIFIED] DM’s 2016 Planning Meeting
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 15.44%
  • Analysis: What’s your reaction when someone lets you in on a secret? For most people, it’s to lean in a bit and give them your ear. This subject line takes a traditional (but great) blog post and gives it a bit of mystique.
  1. Announcing: The 7th Annual Black Friday Bootcamp
  • Content: Black Friday Bootcamp
  • Open Rate: 15.71%
  • Analysis: This subject line needs no frills and no complex hooks; it relies on people’s familiarity with our annual Black Friday Bootcamp workshop. When leveraging the familiar, a direct, clear offer works wonders.
  1. 13 billion emails analyzed [Infographic]
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 15.79%
  • Analysis: This subject line uses a classic technique, featuring an odd number that stands out to readers in an inbox. And highlighting the content type, an infographic, assures readers that this massive amount of information will be easily digestible.
  1. Steal these email templates…
  • Content: The Machine
  • Open Rate: 16.16%
  • Analysis: Making a direct offer, “download this,” “grab this,” is a strong hook for any email. And this subject line does a great job of amplifying what’s already working with more surprising language.
  1. 5-Point Paid Ad Audit
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 16.25%
  • Analysis: This is a great subject line to appeal to intermediate and advanced marketers, which comprises most of DigitalMarketer’s list. It’s a direct offer and one that speaks to people who are knee-deep, and trying to make the most of their efforts.
  1. Your new favorite marketing tool…
  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 16.57%
  • Analysis: This subject line touches on a broad interest for the audience, marketing tools, and promises positive change. Finding new software or strategies means faster, better processes, which marketers are always looking for.

Those may be the cream of the crop, but with nearly 107,442,263 emails sent in 2016, we saw a few other good ones, too.

Here are the next 90 subject lines that had the highest open rates and a breakdown of the elements that compose them:

  • Facebook’s New Pixel: What You Need to Know – News | Self-Interest
  • G + L + F = 2X Your Sales – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • I’m in this new book… – Humanity | Curiosity
  • Google Compliant Landing Page Checklist [Download] – Offer
  • 28 ways to increase organic social traffic – Self-Interest
  • Yep, that just happened… – Curiosity
  • BRAND-NEW certification released today… – Curiosity
  • These 6 skills will pay the bills… – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • [BLOG] How an unknown podcaster generated 100,525 organic downloads in 80 days – Story | Self-Interest
  • Did you get your book yet? – Curiosity
  • She sold 122 subscriptions for $97 each. Here’s how… – Story | Self-Interest
  • New for 2017: 2 ways to master marketing… – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • 15 killer content marketing tools – Offer | Self-Interest
  • [Download] Customer Avatar Worksheet – Offer
  • 10-week live training and certification – Offer
  • What do Google, YouTube, Amazon and Pinterest have in common? – Curiosity
  • All Execution Plans 75% off! – Offer | Self-Interest
  • Is “ISBO” the future of search marketing? – Curiosity
  • Ultimate Guide to Facebook Video Ads [2nd Edition] – Self-Interest
  • Facebook Ad Targeting (The Complete Guide, 2nd Edition) – Self-Interest
  • ANNOUNCING Recommended Agendas and “learning tracks” – News
  • The Complete Guide to Google Tag Manager [Part 2] – Self-Interest
  • Better than T&C? – Curiosity
  • Become a Certified Digital Marketing Professional – Self-Interest
  • Your Content Campaign Planner (Google doc) – Offer
  • Ryan Deiss #TCS2016 Keynote: What you need to know – News | Self-Interest
  • Happy Birthday to… …DigitalMarketer! – Humanity | Story
  • How to generate FREE, organic traffic! – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • ⏰  Are you In or Out? – Urgency/Scarcity | Curiosity
  • Great News — new T&C tickets released! – Self-Interest
  • Bad news…closing down – Urgency/Scarcity | Curiosity
  • [DOWNLOAD] 8-Point Lead Magnet Success Checklist – Offer
  • Why “Yes” Kills and “No” Can Make You Rich [part 3 of 3] – Story | Curiosity
  • ⚡️ [FLASH SALE] Our Facebook ad plan (and best templates)… – Offer | Self-Interest
  • Huge Announcement: Brand new event… – News | Curiosity
  • 3 proven Facebook campaigns to run today… – Self-Interest | Offer
  • T&C 2016 in Tahiti? – Curiosity
  • [RANT] Why I HATE Business Cards! – Story | Humanity
  • Lethal Combo: AdWords Remarketing + Google Analytics – Self-Interest
  • Reach your audience… without their contact information. – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Open up for our best content – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Secret FB campaign gets 23,247 leads in 30 days… – Self-Interest
  • Case Study: 7-figure eCommerce Funnel – Social Proof
  • 49 Split Tests that (Almost) Always Win – Self-Interest
  • Our Paid Traffic Playlist – Curiosity | Offer
  • Meet me in San Diego? – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • [Flash Sale] A 7-Step ”Paint By Numbers” Process for FB Campaigns – Offer
  • Forget GroupOn — this stuff works! [Case Study] – Curiosity
  • Swipe our eCommerce Email Marketing Roadmap – Offer
  • [Case Study] $25,865/mo in recurring revenue – Social Proof | Story
  • Are you a victim of manipulated data? – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • The power of empty pockets – Story | Curiosity
  • New business model — this is the future of business… – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • [Last Call] For the Ultimate Email Marketing Game-Plan (PDF) – Urgency/Scarcity | Offer
  • [Save $500] Become a Search Marketing Specialist – Self-Interest
  • Watch T&C in your underwear… – Curiosity
  • ✈ Meet me in Orlando – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • ⚡️ [FLASH SALE] My 6-Step Market Research Plan (and workbook) – Offer | Self-Interest
  • [DOWNLOAD] 10-Point Blog Post Audit – Offer
  • Finally, track social media ROI – Self-Interest
  • Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager: Which is right for you? – Self-Interest
  • [SWIPE] This email got 6X open rate… – Offer | Curiosity
  • Stand out in your customer’s inbox – Self-Interest
  • Pokemon GO: 3 Marketing Mistakes, Millions of Users Lost! – News | Curiosity
  • [Free Gift] Our Facebook ad targeting checklist… – Offer
  • 3 wicked AdWords tactics to increase your ROI – Self-Interest
  • This is what’s truly essential… [part 2 of 3] – Curiosity | Story
  • $4 Million in Ad Spend (Here’s what works) – Self-Interest
  • Measure ROI by traffic source – Self-Interest
  • 📢  HUGE Announcement (another big change at DM) – News
  • Marketing Showdown: Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders – News | Curiosity
  • [Case Study] Local Facebook Advertising – Self-Interest
  • Does anyone even WANT what you’re selling? – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • [Last Chance] 75 percent off all our Execution Plans ends TOMORROW! – Urgency/Scarcity
  • Turn your assistant into a marketing rockstar – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • The Ad Grid: 20X your success rate – Self-Interest
  • Aducational Video + Remarketing – Curiosity
  • Lowest price on T&C – Self-Interest
  • ANNOUNCING: Marketing Mastery Class – News
  • There is still time… – Urgency/Scarcity | Curiosity
  • T&C hotel almost SOLD OUT! – Urgency/Scarcity
  • A tested and proven framework… – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • ✔ [Checklist] Your Split Testing Guide – Offer
  • [TODAY] Our Facebook ad targeting plan (3 pm Eastern) – Urgency/Scarcity | Offer
  • CLOSING down soon! (Don’t get locked out) – Urgency/Scarcity | Curiosity
  • Why I (kinda) HATE surveys… – Humanity
  • $7 today, $47 tomorrow – Self-Interest | Urgency/Scarcity
  • How an electronic retailer surged their revenue by 60% – Story | Self-Interest
  • New DigitalMarketer event for Bloggers! – News
  • [ICYMI] Everything you need to know about Facebook’s new pixel – Self-Interest | News

5 Free Tools You Can Use to Amplify Your Email Marketing

And now that we’ve looked at our best email subject lines of 2016, I want to hand you a several free resources you can use to improve email open rates, click-through rates, and even deliverability rates!

1. A/B Significance Tester

Split testing is one of the best ways to figure out not just what works in email marketing, but what works for your audience. You could read a dozen articles on email tips and tricks but at the end of the day, what you need to know is what the subscribers who have opted in for your materials are interested in.

Unfortunately, when dealing with split testing large audiences, it’s sometimes hard to get a sense of what actually worked. That’s why it’s so important to see if your results are statistically significant – basically, how likely is it that if you ran the test again, you’d get the same results.

I’ve used this free resource from Kissmetrics for more than two years because it’s simple, free, and easy to use to get a read of whether or not your split test results matter.

2. Bulletproof Email Buttons

Responsive buttons are a great way to make the CTAs in your email copy stand out.

In fact, in last year’s subject line roundup, I talked about how DigitalMarketer saw some amazing results from buttons in emails – a 38% higher earning per click for emails with buttons.

But if you aren’t a coder, you’ll need some other resource to help simplify creating these – otherwise, you run the risk of screwing up your email templates or breaking your links.

Luckily, Campaign Monitor has an awesome free solution for creating buttons of all shapes, sizes, and colors. With this tool, creating a button is easy and doesn’t require any special knowledge of CSS or HTML.

A pro tip for slightly more advanced users: you can easily increase the font size as well by changing the value for “font-size” from 13 pixels to whatever your heart (or email template) desires.

3. GifRocket

This one’s for Mac users only, but boy is it a doozy. If you’ve ever seen an email with a “video” in it, most likely it was actually an email leveraging GIFs. GIFs are graphics that store and show a series of images, creating an experience similar to a short video.

For most people, making GIFs requires finding a graphic artist or hiring out the task on Fiverr or TaskRabbit, a slow and often painful process.

But with GifRocket, anyone with a Mac and a video can create their very own GIFs. Here’s an example (which took under two minutes to film and gif-ify):

GIF John made using GiftRocket

Combining this software with your smartphone camera can create some magical moments, no technical skill required. All you need is a dash of imagination!

4. Headline Analyzer

If you just can’t quite decide if a subject line you wrote is good enough, maybe you need to test it out “in the lab.”

CoSchedule created a free tool that helps you evaluate the efficacy of your headlines. All you need to do is post your headline in their analyzer and they will give you a score for how well you did, and how likely the headline is to get your audience clicking.

The program identifies what kinds of words are used and how effective they are at evoking an emotional response, or how eye-catching and “powerful” they are.

Feel free to take their advice with a grain of salt – I tend to find them overly critical of short subject lines which have been shown to work well. But it’s a great resource if you’re looking for a second opinion.

5. Sender Score

This one’s a bit technical but is a must-use resource for anyone wanting to make the most of their email marketing.

Do you feel like your emails don’t make it to the inbox as often as they should?

The IP you use to send emails may have a bad reputation, literally.

With Sender Score, you can see the sender reputation that your emails have, and figure out what mailbox providers like Google think of your mails. This free tool from ReturnPath is a great way to keep an eye on the more technical elements of your email marketing. After all, with

After all, with poor delivery, even the best subject line isn’t going to get many opens. So go sign up for a free account and remember to keep an eye on your score.

Swipe out best email subject lines of 2016

Don’t stop there!

Read on to Learn DigitalMarketer’s 101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2015 (…And Our 3 Best Email Split Tests!)

First, here are our ten best emails subject lines of 2015…

10. Seriously, get this book.

  • Content: The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth (James Altucher’s book)
  • Open Rate: 16.91%
  • Analysis: This subject line is pretty direct – seriously means no fooling around. But the blind reference to an as-yet unidentified book demands the recipient take a look inside and see if it’s a good fit for their library shelf.

9. I’m pulling the plug…

  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open: 17.13%
  • Analysis: This subject line uses negative language to great effect. What does “pulling the plug” mean for DigitalMarketer subscribers? Is this bad news (or as it turned out, great news)? Only by clicking through can you find out.

8. 7 split testing mistakes

  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open: 17.34%
  • Analysis: Do you like making mistakes? Neither do we (though it happens). So when someone promises to show you pitfalls to avoid before it’s too late, no one wants to miss the opportunity to do so.

7. How HostGator does retargeting

  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open: 17.40%
  • Analysis: This subject is simple and to the point, with a clear value proposition (learn how to leverage their retargeting strategy). The social proof of leveraging a well-known brand helps validate the information contained within the email.

6. TRAFFIC (on a “shoestring” budget)

  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open: 17.79%
  • Analysis: All caps can be pretty polarizing – no one likes to be yelled at digitally. But when you pick a word business owners love, the results are more positive. And offering a cost-friendly solution to a problem never hurts.

5. 11 sneaky email tricks

  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open: 17.83%
  • Analysis: This subject line uses a number that stands out (11) and a compelling adjective (sneaky) to hook the audience. And everyone loves simple to implement strategies, as implied by words like “trick,” “hack,” or “shortcut.”

4. Facebook Ads (Your first 3 steps)

  • Content: Perpetual Traffic Episode
  • Open: 17.87%
  • Analysis: If you’ve wanted to try something new, like Facebook ads, one of the biggest barriers to entry is not knowing where to start. This subject is clear, direct, and helps people who aren’t sure if they’ll be able to use the information.

3. The YouTube Gold Mine

  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open: 17.90%
  • Analysis: Have you ever discovered a gold mine? Probably not, but it sure would be nice to do so. This subject line combines a high-value proposition with intriguing but vague details. Open up!

2. Thank You!

  • Content: $1 Trial Offer
  • Open: 17.99%
  • Analysis: This is a subject line that works so well we sneak it into our mails every year and it never fails to disappoint. People love recognition, and acknowledgment of what they’ve done (if you swipe just one subject line, make it this one).

1. 23 bizarre products selling online

  • Content: Blog Post
  • Open: 18.71%
  • Analysis: This was one of our experiments for 2015, seeing how some lighter, less actionable content would fare, and the fact that subject line took our top slot shows that this strategy works. This subject promises a fun twist on studying just how crazy ecommerce can be. And lists with odd numbers always catch the eye.

Those may be the cream of the crop, but with 134 million emails out the door, we saw a few other good ones, too.

Here are the next 90 subject lines that had the highest open rates and a breakdown of the elements that compose them:

  • Think like a Facebook ad pro… – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • 29 Landing Page Reviews (Plus…) – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Get your Facebook advertising plan – Offer
  • How to Build an Unstoppable Business (2nd Edition) – Story
  • The 3-step Content Marketing plan – Self-Interest
  • [SWIPE] 10 Best Customer Survey Questions – Offer
  • This is embarrassing but… – Curiosity
  • Facebook Ad Case Study [listen to Part 3] – Self-Interest
  • … this failed miserably – Humanity | Curiosity
  • How to get paid [Literally] – Self-Interest
  • Still doing it the old way? – Curiosity
  • Sales ⬆︎, Refunds ⬇︎, Retention ⬆︎ – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • How Emily Faith got 76,974 YouTube views in 10 days… – Story
  • Facebook Video Ads | The Ultimate Guide – Offer | Self-Interest
  • Avoiding the “Facebook ban hammer” – News | Curiosity
  • How to sell tickets to live events – Self-Interest
  • Don’t buy this from Amazon! – Curiosity
  • Finally! Facebook releases… – Curiosity | News
  • Split Test This, Not That – Self-Interest
  • My Gift to you… – Curiosity | Offer
  • New tool changes webinars forever… – News
  • The PERFECT traffic platform? – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • I’m closing it down! – Urgency/Scarcity
  • Join me in congratulating… – Story | Curiosity
  • Inverted Web Analytics? – Curiosity
  • The ideal length of everything online – Curiosity
  • The PERFECT Facebook Ad – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • BIG news from YouTube – News | Curiosity
  • This critique gets uncomfortable at times – Curiosity
  • [Leads] Scaling from 50 to 5,000+ – Self-Interest
  • Rice, gasoline and website traffic? – Curiosity
  • The AdWords Remarketing “Easy Button” – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Private Invite – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Big Celebrity Announcement – News
  • [SWIPE] Our best email copy – Offer
  • Answers to the Facebook Pixel Madness – Self-Interest
  • 2 killer blog post templates – Offer | Curiosity
  • WANTED: Professional Content Marketers – Curiosity
  • Read this before clicking “Send” – Self-Interest
  • Can’t Buy FB Traffic? – Curiosity
  • This has nothing to do with marketing… – Curiosity
  • Meet me at ICON (and save $300)… – Offer
  • [TEMPLATE] Cold email anyone and get a response – Offer
  • [Podcast] Frank Kern on Paid Traffic – Story
  • Traffic for the eCommerce biz – Self-Interest
  • “I just want the recordings…” – Curiosity
  • Twitter Traffic (In an hour a day) – Self-Interest
  • Paid traffic not converting? Download this… – Offer
  • MAJOR announcement! (big changes at DM) – News | Curiosity
  • Become a “Customer Acquisition Specialist” – Self-Interest
  • 3 proven FB campaigns to run today… – Offer
  • 2 BRAND-NEW certifications launched today – News | Curiosity
  • Start with this funnel – Self-Interest
  • I was wrong… – Humanity
  • Use THIS to become an Authority (in ANY market)… – Self-Interest | Offer
  • $100 or $100.00? (It makes a difference) – Curiosity
  • Blog posts that sell (A complete guide) – Offer
  • I LOVE this little tool! – Curiosity
  • T&C 2016 closing soon? – Urgency/Scarcity
  • Limited-time open enrollment… – Curiosity
  • ①⓪① ways to boost email open rates – Self-Interest
  • New DigitalMarketer Training Center – News | Curiosity
  • Conversion vs. Content – Curiosity
  • 21 landing page mistakes – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Facebook’s New Lead Ads (What you need to know) – News | Self-Interest
  • Copy and paste these 72 headlines [Last Chance] – Offer
  • How to hire a content marketer – Self-Interest
  • Get your first 1,000 blog subscribers – Self-Interest
  • Stop writing NEW blog posts. Here’s why… – Curiosity
  • [TEST RESULTS] 2,689 leads from “On Site Retargeting” – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • A visit to Facebook (Here’s what we learned) – Story | Curiosity
  • My 2016 business plan… – Offer | Curiosity
  • 5,219% ROI from new traffic source – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • The Remarketing Grid – Curiosity
  • [Case Study] Numbers don’t lie – Story | Curiosity
  • Score your landing page – Self-Interest
  • Create the perfect marketing calendar – Offer
  • Reach 6,372,857 people with zero ad spend – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • A 15.2% lift (but we were shocked) – Curiosity
  • My favorite automation tools – Self-Interest
  • A very direct (and some might even say, “RUDE”) email – Curiosity
  • [CASE STUDY] AZ shoe store 20X’d sales by sending what? – Story | Social Proof
  • Download This Social Media Swipe File (PDF) – Offer
  • Turn ice cold prospects into buyers – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • My favorite business model – Curiosity
  • The Ultimate Course on Paid Traffic – Self-Interest | Offer
  • My new book! (and a big mistake) – Story | Humanity
  • Double sales (Get the formula) – Self-Interest
  • Dirt cheap Facebook leads – Self-Interest
  • ⬆︎ Social media traffic (Your 6-step plan) – Self-Interest

Now it’s your turn — Post in DM Engage or tweet us with #101!

(NOTE: Tired of your email marketing being mostly guess work? Use this plug and play guide and tracking sheet to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy. Learn more now!)

Get your free guide to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy.

Should You Test That?

Now that you have our best subject lines of the year, you should be ready to up your own game and start sending some emails.

We’re going to give you just a little bit more information to help you get an extra bump…

Here are our three top performing email split tests of 2015.

1. Highlighting a Pain in the Subject Line

Open rate can lie about performance.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look at the metric because you definitely should. It’s one of your top four email metrics to watch, along with click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, and earnings per click (EPC).

But here’s a great split test that shows why you can judge a campaign by a single metric.

We ran this subject line split test in March of this year. These were the two subject lines.

The two email subject lines we split tested

The “Little _______ = big sales [QUIZ]” beat out the other one, but the results weren’t significant. So at first glance, the test was a wash. However, on closer examination, the subject line “This is why your prospects aren’t buying” actually had more clicks.

A LOT more.

We saw a statistically significant lift of 18% in click-throughs for the second subject line. The reason? The other headline pre-qualified openers by highlighting a pain they were feeling in their business.

That’s one of the risks with curiosity headlines – they drive more opens but people don’t know what they are getting into when they open. So for more complex or expensive offers, direct and pain-based subject lines can produce better results. Don’t overdo it on the doom and gloom though; a little bit of negativity goes a long way and too much can turn subscribers off your emails.

2. Use CSS Buttons in Your Email

Setting yourself up for mobile wins has never been more important, as more and more people are using their mobile devices to read email, browse the web and make purchases.

Because of this trend, we decided to experiment with CSS buttons during our Black Friday promotion. We tested emails using buttons for the CTA against emails using just text hyperlinks, which had been our standard practice.

Here’s a glance at what each one looked like:

DigitalMarketer email with a CTA button within the body

DigitalMarketer email WITHOUT a CTA button within the body

We figured the button would win, but we had no idea how incredible the results would be. The email with buttons had a 22% higher click through rate, no small feat and definitely a sign that this test was a winner.

But that’s not the mind-blowing part of the results.

We also compared the performance and found that the earnings per click, the amount of money we made for every person who clicked through the email, was 38% higher for the email with CSS buttons.

3. Use Unicode Symbols to Highlight Emails

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again — using Unicode symbols in your subject line is a great way to generate a bump in opens.

These symbols are the little pictures that show up in your inbox, including ☼, ★, ☂, and ①. Since Unicode symbols are coded in computer systems like alphabet characters and numbers, they can be displayed on multiple browsers and devices.

Across all kinds of topics and subject lines, we’ve found that Unicode symbols produce a consistent 8% bump in email opens. So these can be a great way to squeeze everything you can out of a big promotion or help push visitors to a particularly strong blog post.

An email with unicode symbols within the subject line

You can grab a swipe file of some of the best Unicode symbols here.

Swipe our best email subject lines of 2015

Don’t stop there!

Check Out Our 101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2014 (…And Our 10 Worst!)

We start with our top ten email subject lines for 2014…

10. [WEEKEND ONLY] Get this NOW before it’s gone…

  • Product: AuthorityROI
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 9.49%
  • Analysis: This is a great example of a flash sale subject line. It combines the urgency of limited availability with an element of mystery. Keep in mind that these work best in very small doses.

9. The Facebook Slap is coming…

  • Product: Twitter Ads EP
  • Product Type: Execution Plan
  • Open Rate: 9.51%
  • Analysis: Personally, just rereading this subject line has me digging through my email archives. It combines the curiosity and news elements, and speaks to a penalty the entire digital marketing industry will want to avoid.

8. Steal these email templates…

  • Product: Email Templates
  • Product Type: The Machine
  • Open Rate: 9.53%
  • Analysis: This one is simple and direct, and makes a clear offer. The phrase “templates” works particularly well with Digital Marketer’s email list.

7. Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…

  • Product: AuthorityROI
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 9.64%
  • Analysis: Are you willing to wave goodbye to 7 figures? Most people aren’t – this is another great example of curiosity and urgency working in tandem to raise that open rate!

6. Is this the hottest career in marketing?

  • Product: eCommerce EP
  • Product Type: Execution Plan
  • Open Rate: 9.77%
  • Analysis: This one is all about curiosity. Using questions in your subject line is a great way to open a loop that your audience will want to close by checking out the email’s contents.

5. A Native Ad in 60 Minutes or Less

  • Product: Blog Post
  • Product Type: Lead Magnet
  • Open Rate: 9.78%
  • Analysis: Quantifying how long it will take a subscriber to realize some benefit in the subject line is great – it feels manageable and promises results, making even inactive members of your list curious. This offer feels bite-sized and achievable.

4. 212 blog post ideas

  • Product: Blog Post
  • Product Type: Lead Magnet
  • Open Rate: 9.94%
  • Analysis: Another great offer example – it communicates the email’s value in just four words.

3. Check out my new “man cave” [PICS]

  • Product: eCommerce EP
  • Product Type: Execution Plan
  • Open Rate: 10.24%
  • Analysis: This is a fun blend of curiosity and humanity – it directly addresses some value Ryan got, a sweet new “man cave,” in the subject. Not only does this spark interest, but it reminds readers about the human connection that brought them to DM in the first place.

2. [URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to watch this…

  • Product: AuthorityROI
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 10.79%
  • Analysis: Once again, curiosity and urgency team up to create a compelling subject line. If you are careful about using these sparingly, you’ll find that they just work.

1. How (and why) to calculate Average Customer Value

  • Product: Blog
  • Product Type: Blog Post
  • Open Rate: 10.91%
  • Analysis: Our number one email subject line, this blends all of the good stuff. It gives you a metric that can improve you business, inspires curiosity about why this number matters, and offers to help you figure out how to calculate it.

(NOTE: Tired of your email marketing being mostly guess work? Use this plug and play guide and tracking sheet to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy. Learn more now!)

Get your free guide to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy.

Here are the next 90 emails with the highest engagement and what elements they used:

  • [FINAL CHANCE] 7-figure blueprint gone tonight… – Curiosity | Urgency
  • How to write a promotional email – Self-Interest
  • Steal our best subject lines – Offer | Self-Interest
  • Weird traffic test… – Curiosity
  • How to craft a guarantee that sells – Self-Interest | Story
  • [SECOND CHANCE] This weekend only… – Curiosity | Urgency
  • The Machine is coming… – Curiosity
  • It’s landing page magic… – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • [NEW POST] How To Build an Email Marketing Machine – Self-Interest | Story
  • THIS disappears at midnight! – Curiosity | Urgency
  • A simple sales copy formula – Self-Interest
  • Gold In Your Mailbox – Curiosity
  • [RESULTS] My Facebook Case Study – Curiosity | Story
  • This is working on Facebook right now – Self-Interest | Story
  • Two Words: Cheap Traffic! – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • [FLASH SALE] 51% off sale ends tonight… – Curiosity | Urgency
  • I made you a video… – Curiosity
  • How to write bullets that sell… – Self-Interest
  • Facebook is cracking down… HARD! – Curiosity | News
  • Thank You! – Humanity
  • [Case Study] Copy & paste this $10 million business… – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Swipe my Email Game-Plan (PDF) – Offer | Self-Interest
  • [FREE PDF] Ultimate Email Marketing Game-Plan – Offer | Self-Interest
  • The 10-Minute Bloggers Editorial Plan – Self-Interest
  • What are you doing this weekend? – Curiosity
  • 212 Blog Post Ideas (PDF) – Offer | Self-Interest
  • Is email marketing dead? – Curiosity
  • C’mon – everybody’s waiting for you… – Curiosity | Urgency
  • I LOVE this amazing little tool! – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • 3-Part Followup Series [Download] – Curiosity | Offer
  • A quick YouTube hack – Self-Interest
  • Find writers for your blog – Self-Interest
  • Facebook Ad Targeting Options [A Complete Guide] – Offer | Self-Interest
  • [NEW FORMULA] Cheap, Targeted Facebook Traffic – Self-Interest
  • 4 emails with stellar click-through rates – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Step up your video marketing game – Self-Interest
  • Want to look at our email stats? – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Native Ad Hacks? – Curiosity
  • 198% ROI on Twitter Ads – Self-Interest | Story
  • [URGENT] About today’s traffic training… – Urgency
  • Do NOT sell on Amazon without this $10 tool… – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • How to Stop Ho-Hum Marketing – Curiosity
  • Would You Do THIS For Money? – Curiosity
  • 2 huge mobile marketing opportunities – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Twitter is the new… Facebook?! – Curiosity | News
  • [PART 2] See how I got $0.10 email optins… – Self-Interest | Story
  • My business model… on a napkin? – Curiosity | Story
  • We beat up this landing page – Curiosity
  • [Gone Sunday] Your traffic training replay is available.. – Urgency
  • Don’t make these 7 AdWords mistakes – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • My Gift to you– Offer | Curiosity
  • Zero to 30K Page Views in 11 Weeks – Story | Self-Interest
  • This sucks, you lose… – Curiosity
  • Should you follow your passion? – Curiosity | Story
  • Low Conversion Rate? Fix These 6 Elements. – Self-Interest | Story
  • Are you missing one of these FIVE steps? – Curiosity
  • Copy and paste these 72 headlines [Last Chance] – Offer | Self-Interest
  • How to craft a winning 3-part followup series – Self-Interest
  • 32 split testing ideas – Self-Interest
  • Less _______ = More Sales [SURVEY] – Curiosity
  • [Template] Create engaging Facebook images – Offer | Self-Interest
  • No blog comments? – Curiosity
  • Download this Social Media Swipe File (PDF) – Offer | Self-Interest
  • Presenting: “Funnel 2.0” – Curiosity
  • 321% higher conversions using THIS… – Curiosity | Story
  • This guy makes 6 figures per month? – Social Proof | Curiosity
  • Amazon app cherry-picks hottest products for you… – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Unlimited penny traffic… – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • My Twitter Ads Cheat Sheet – Self-Interest
  • Still haven’t launched your funnel? – Curiosity
  • Our top Facebook ad campaigns – Curiosity
  • “Borrow” all my checklists… – Offer | Curiosity
  • SEO is dying (a slow and painful death) – News | Curiosity
  • This is rated aaarrrgh! (details inside) – Curiosity
  • Does your marketing smell funny? – Curiosity
  • Do you HATE money? – Curiosity
  • (time sensitive) Last night’s Funnel training… – Urgency
  • [Case Study] $188,674 from a dead list – Social Proof | Self-Interest
  • [ONLY $7] My “cheap traffic” plan – Self-Interest
  • Get More Email Newsletter Clicks – Self-Interest
  • Reduce shopping cart abandonment – Self-Interest
  • Create opt-in pages that convert like crazy – Self-Interest
  • My Facebook retargeting plan – Self-Interest
  • This gets my highest recommendation – Curiosity
  • Better than Facebook? – Curiosity
  • 28,507 leads in 45 days – Self-Interest | Social Proof
  • A slick mobile lead gen funnel – Self-Interest
  • The Machine is LIVE… here’s your link – Curiosity
  • Pounce on these shifts in digital marketing – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Uncomplicate your analytics – Self-Interest
  • I do THIS for traffic… – Curiosity

But Don’t Do This…

We’re also sharing our top 10 worst emails of 2014 and picking them apart to find why exactly they didn’t work.

Our Top 10 Worst Emails

For these, we looked at emails with the highest unsubscribe to open ratio. Not only did these miss the mark, they drove our audience away! We’re going to work backward, starting with the 10th most unpopular email.

10. [85% Discount GONE] Blog launch “checklist on steroids” price increasing…  

  • Promotion: Blog Launch EP
  • Promotion Type: Execution Plan
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 1.78%
  • Analysis: This subject line is trying to do too much at once. The framing of the price increase is presented as both a disappearing discount and a price increase. While these mean the same thing, it can be a little confusing and makes the subject line too long. Sticking with short, sweet, and clear is best.

9. Last chance to be a whale

  • Promotion: The Whale Method
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 1.90%
  • Analysis: This curiosity subject line is cute, but it’s a little too cute. We’ve found that trying to be too clever or funny with subject lines often hurts an email’s performance. This varies by industry, but for educational authorities, it tends to hurt performance.

8. 321% higher conversions using THIS

  • Promotion: Video Sales Letter Formula
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 1.93%
  • Analysis: This subject line isn’t terrible – it combines curiosity with self-interest and makes an exciting promise. So I looked at the body as well. A key issue was that the body was even more blind than the subject line – the promise got lost in the open.

7. uh oh

  • Promotion: Napkin Project
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 2.01%
  • Analysis: This is a great example of a curiosity subject line that completely misses the mark. It’s too vague and sets a negative tone. Be very careful when using curiosity subject lines, especially when you don’t mix them with other elements.

6. 3-Part Followup Series [Download]

  • Promotion: Native Ads Academy
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 2.09%
  • Analysis: One of the big issues with this email was that it didn’t explain exactly what kind of follow-up series was being offered. By not giving the audience enough information, those who opened it and weren’t interested in an email follow-up series were turned off.

5. Free traffic SUCKS!

  • Promotion: Whale Method
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 2.21%
  • Analysis: This subject line strikes a negative tone right off the bat. While that can be very effective way to get opens, it also sets audience members up to feel frustrated. When you go negative, it’s important to really focus on putting a positive spin in the email body.

4. 43% discount GONE at midnight

  • Promotion: Video Sales Letter Formula
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 2.46%
  • Analysis: This subject line isn’t particularly bad on its own – it combines curiosity and urgency, which is often very effective. However, the subject line is nearly identical to the one sent the day before. Using the same elements in a subject line two days in a row can make your emails seem stale and leave your audience bored. And bored audiences become unengaged very quickly.

3. This sucks, you lose

  • Promotion: Whale Method
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 2.67%
  • Analysis: Another example of a negative curiosity-based subject line. It has a similar issue to the other one – it didn’t spin the tone of the communication enough and left readers with a bad taste in their mouth, leading to a high unsubscribe rate.

2. [GONE TONIGHT] Native Ads training OVER at MIDNIGHT

  • Promotion: Native Ads Academy
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information Product
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 2.94%
  • Analysis: This subject line is a little too urgent – overdoing capitalization in the subject line can feel like shouting. And no one wants their email inbox to yell at them. Capitalization is a great way to draw attention but works best in small doses.

1. C’mon – everybody’s waiting for you

  • Promotion: Native Ads Academy
  • Promotion Type: Course/Information
  • Unsubscribes / Opens: 3.05%
  • Analysis: This email actually had one of our top 100 email subject lines, but it’s a great example of the double-edged sword of curiosity hooks. The email went to audience members not already planning to attend a webinar. This subject line puts some pressure on the reader which, for those clearly not interested in the webinar, is an, unfortunately, effective way to drive them off your email list.

(RELATED: Generate more sales by sending fewer emails with our Ultimate Email Marketing Gameplan.)

Swipe our best email subject lines of 2014

Still here? Great!

We’re Sharing Our 101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2013 Below!

In 2013, our best email subject lines were all made up of one of the eight all-important elements we outlined at the top of this post…

Perhaps more importantly — NONE of our best email subject lines were:

OK… almost none of our best are cute or clever.  Every once in a great while a cute or clever subject line will work… most of the time they will get low open rates.

For the most part, it pays to be direct and clear.

Ready to look at our top email subject lines? We begin with the 10th best email subject line…

10.  Breaking News…

  • Product: Black Friday Webinar
  • Product Type:  Webinar
  • Open Rate: 7.6%
  • Analysis:  This subject line promises that the reader will find something timely and unknown if they open up.

9.  Facebook traffic is dead?

  • Product: Facebook Ad Power
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 7.6%
  • Analysis:  This subject line creates plays on a reader’s self-interest — particularly those that are using or are considering using Facebook for business.

8.  Everybody’s waiting for you…

  • Product: Funnel Webinar
  • Product Type: Webinar
  • Open Rate: 7.7%
  • Analysis:  This is a clever way to use urgency in an email subject line.  This email was sent a couple of minutes after we started the webinar it was promoting.

7.  Kindle bestseller in 4 days?

  • Product: Facebook Ad Power
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 7.8%
  • Analysis:  This subject line promises a benefit in a short amount of time — a good example of a self-interest subject line.

6.  Watch live? From anywhere?

  • Product: Traffic & Conversion Summit (Event)
  • Product Type: Event
  • Open Rate: 8.0%
  • Analysis:  This subject line creates curiosity.  It creates the following question in the reader’s mind: “Watch what from anywhere?”

5.  Facebook closing down?

  • Product: Facebook Ad Power
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 8.0%
  • Analysis:  This is a curiosity subject line that implies that something of self-interest to the reader might be going away.

4.  I feel kinda sorry for you…

  • Product: Facebook Ad Power
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 8.2%
  • Analysis:  This subject line plays on the reader’s ego and creates curiosity.

3.  How to scale your business

  • Product: The Amazing Selling Machine
  • Product Type: Course/Information Product
  • Open Rate: 9.5%
  • Analysis:  This is a clear and direct self-interest subject-line.

2 .  Good news for people who love bad news…

  • Product: Traffic & Conversion Summit (Event)
  • Product Type: Event
  • Open Rate: 9.6%
  • Analysis:  This one creates curiosity through a cute and clever use of word play.

 1.  Can’t Make The Trip?

  • Product: Traffic & Conversion Summit (Event)
  • Product Type: Event
  • Open Rate: 9.8%
  • Analysis:  This curiosity subject line asks a question

So that’s the Top 10. But there are more… here are the next 90 email subject lines that enjoyed the highest open rates.

  • Your funnel is broken… – Self Interest
  • [New Video] 1,000,000 customers in 11 months? We have proof. – News | Self-Interest
  • Need my help? – Self Interest | Curiosity
  • Ahhh, San Diego! Spanish for… – Curiosity
  • I LOVE this little Facebook tool! – Self Interest
  • [URGENT] Emergency Gmail Webinar Tomorrow, 7/24! Urgency | News
  • The Story of “The Vagabonds” – Story | Curiosity
  • My favorite market research tool – Self Interest
  • Get your business funded in 2014 [Case Study] – News | Self-Interest
  • Copy & paste this $10 million business… – Self Interest
  • (time sensitive) Last night’s Funnel training… – Urgency
  • The Ultimate Facebook “Cheat Sheet” – Self Interest
  • Create your own digital magazine (no iPhone/iPad required) – Self-Interest
  • Will this KILL your business in 2014? – Curiosity | News | Self-Interest
  • Questions about War Room? – Self Interest
  • [TONIGHT] My proven funnel system revealed… Urgency |Self-Interestt
  • [Last Chance] Create the perfect funnel… – Urgency | Self-Interest
  • [PROOF] How to get 10 cent email leads from Facebook… – Self Interest
  • [Free Book] The $10 million discovery (limited) – Self Interest | News | Scarcity
  • Boost your email clickthroughs by 200% – Self Interest
  • No more discounts on T&C! – Self Interest | Scarcity
  • Facebook sucks – Curiosity
  • [FLASH SALE] This is how we get traffic from Amazon – Urgency | Self-Interest
  • [Open NOW] The Digital Publishing Blueprint is LIVE! – News | Self-Interest
  • The Perfect Webinar Funnel – Self Interest
  • Tim Ferriss says “Hi” – Social Proof
  • Pulling FBAdpower DOWN… – Scarcity
  • LAST CHANCE for Livestreaming… – Urgency
  • New site and new sales in 3 days or less?! – Self Interest
  • 1 cent CLICKS?! (open up)… – Self Interest | Curiosity
  • I hope they’re not mad… – Curiosity
  • [Closing Tomorrow] Don’t get shut out… again! – Urgency
  • Good News… Your 1st sale in 3 days… – Self Interest
  • How I get dirt-cheap, high-quality traffic… – Self Interest
  • [FINAL PLAYING] Emergency Gmail Webinar! Urgency | News
  • Will 2014 be better than 2013? – Curiosity | News
  • T&C CLOSING! Only 61 spots left! – Scarcity
  • Facebook “panic” is great news for you… – News | Self-Interest
  • [CLOSING TONIGHT] T&C tickets GONE tonight… – Scarcity
  • [JUST RELEASED] More T&C Tickets Available… – News | Urgency
  • Software cherry-picks the hottest leads for you… – Self-Interest
  • Free 68 page book Interview With A Mega-Bestseller – Self-Interest
  • [FLASH SALE] Get targeted FB leads for dirt cheap… – Urgency | Self-Interest
  • [Finally] Get this Proven Digital Marketing Blueprint – Self Interest | News
  • 85% sale ends today – Urgency
  • You an Amazon Bestseller? – Self-Interest
  • Last chance – T&C Closing at Midnight TONIGHT! – Urgency
  • Important letter for you – Curiosity
  • [NEWS] EmailWorld 2013 Sept. 24th and 25th in San Diego, CA – News
  • Announced 306% increase in FB traffic? – News | Self-Interest
  • Facebook OWNS Google… – Curiosity
  • [Almost Gone] New T&C Tickets going fast… – Scarcity
  • [IMPORTANT] Gmail Webinar TODAY! – Urgency
  • Only open if your business will do at least 7-figures this year… – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Apple Newsstand training is CLOSING – Urgency
  • FW: Did you miss this yesterday? – Curiosity
  • Merry Christmas to You! – Humanity
  • Can I help you build your sales funnel? – Self Interest
  • “Panda” update for Facebook? – Curiosity | News
  • Press Releases More Powerful Than Ever? – News | Curiosity
  • Last chance for Apple Newsstand training [FREE RESOURCE] – Urgency | Self-Interest
  • Interact with the industry’s brightest minds at the QuickSprout Forum – Self-Interest
  • You on Facebook? – Curiosity
  • Turn Ideas into Million-Dollar Products – Self-Interest
  • 100,000 unique visitors PER MONTH… – Self-Interest
  • The “Mystery Man” Behind 500 Product Launches… – Curiosity | News
  • This 1 “weird trick” is worth the trip – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Arrested for printing money? – Curiosity | News
  • Can we meet in San Diego? – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • Bad news and good news… – Curiosity | News
  • T&C is selling out! Only 32 seats left! – Scarcity
  • Ex-construction worker earns $309/day with… – Story | News
  • This Free book changed my business… – Curiosity | Self-Interest
  • The free books are all gone… – Curiosity | Scarcity
  • [NEWS] 5th Annual Traffic & Conversion Summit OPEN – News
  • [80% Discount] Game-changing software… – Self-Interest
  • Content idea generator [Free Resource 1 of 3] – Self-Interest
  • [RESULTS] My Facebook Case Study – Self-Interest | News
  • THIS Increased Conversions 24%?!? – Self-Interest | News
  • FINAL NOTICE: Only 11 seats left! – Scarcity
  • Only 187 free copies of Frank’s book left… – Scarcity
  • No list & NO partners = sales in 3 days?! – Self-Interest | Curiosity
  • Your “On Demand” bootcamp replay… – Self-Interest
  • Happy Thanksgiving! – Humanity
  • How I “busted-up” Google’s monopoly… – Curiosity | News
  • [SPOOKY NOTICE] 82% off T&C Tickets (CLOSING 24 hours) – Urgency
  • Your DEADline is tonight! 82% off dies at midnight… – Urgency
  • If I had to start all over again… – Story
  • Wanna pick an $80 Million brain… – Curiosity |Self-Interestt
  • [REVEALED] Turn Likes into email subscribers fast… – News | Self-Interest

(RELATED: Generate more sales by sending fewer emails with our Ultimate Email Marketing Gameplan.)

Swipe our best subject lines of 2013

(NOTE: Tired of your email marketing being mostly guess work? Use this plug and play guide and tracking sheet to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy. Learn more now!)

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