Dress For Success: Great Email Subject Lines – Email Thursday

TOPICSEmail Marketing


Want to spice up your email marketing subject lines for higher engagement?

My name is Tim G. and I am the Senior Email Marketing Specialist at Exclusive Concepts. Today, I’ll be covering the topic of great email subject lines.

On a typical week, I field many questions about subject lines from clients. Questions range from, “Is my subject line too pushy?” to, “Is the subject line accurately describing the topic covered in my email campaign?”

This presentation will provide three guidelines to craft subject lines that optimize the possibility of increased Open Rates and Conversions.


One great way to boost effectiveness of your subject line is to personalize it.

The databases of most email service providers contain subscriber first and last names, so why not use this data to your benefit?

In a world where the typical person receives dozens of email promotions per day, an email with a subject line containing a first name really jumps out from the fray.

A personalized subject line works especially well for products and services that have a high degree of personal relevance. Some examples of such products and services are: custom engraved gifts, concert events, and clothing. In such cases, personalization helps create a deeper customer relationship.

This example from Ticketmaster is great. Not only is the email subject line tailored with my name, but the content is also customized according to my first name (again), and my geographic vicinity.


Another way to effectively use your subject line is to convey a sense of exclusive information.

In this example from Banana Republic, the subject line denotes what kind of information the email provides along with a clue to who this information is geared towards.

If you can segment your list, you can tailor your subject line according to a specific piece of demographic data.

For example, if Banana Republic logs the gender of each subscriber, they could send the Chino Suit guide to male subscribers and a Spring Dress guide to female subscribers.

This example is also a great demonstration that a subject line does not always need to contain a pricing promotion or coupon. Even though the email contains a Free Shipping promotion, the subject line does not mention the offer at all. Banana Republic’s email marketers did a great job in prioritizing the contents of the newsletter according to perceived importance to the target demographic and selected the most important piece of content to feature in the subject line.


Don’t be afraid to be a little provocative! I don’t necessarily mean provocative in the sense of being vulgar. But provocative in the sense of striking of chord of relevance with your readers.

I love this subject line from Rent The Runway. It’s edgy and it goes as far as the reader wants to take it. Additionally, the subject line succinctly explains what “Friends with Benefits” means. In seven words, it launches a clever tagline and explains the offer.

To be provocative, I have found that humor and current events / celebrity gossip works very well. But the most important factor to consider is relevance – does your subject line run in parallel with the interests and lifestyles of your readers?