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The Most Loved and Hated Email Subject Lines

Email subject lines can feel like the death of us marketers. In today’s busy world, we receive 121 emails per day and a whopping 33% of them go unopened. [E-Statistics] This means a bad subject line can block a prospect from opening a sales email. So what can we do to take the extra step that gets someone to actually opens an email? We make a good first impression.


Learning the best and worst tactics for email subject lines can help you boost open rates and stand out from the clutter. But first, what constitutes as a bad email subject line? According to Smart Insights, the average email open rate is between 20-25% depending on the industry and business size. Emails that score lower than 15% are considered in need of improvement.


Here are a few examples that may inspire you to take the time and create a well-crafted subject line. Remember, the most important aspect to keep in mind when you’re writing an email subject line is who your audience is, and what action you want them to take.


Some of the most loved email subject lines:   

The best email subject lines offer a sense of urgency, provoke curiosity, give offers, are personalized, demonstrate relevance, utilize name recognition, and throw out cool stories. Don’t be afraid to test certain words and phrases to see how your audience responds.


Zillow: "What Can You Afford?"

Digital Marketer: “Your private invitation expires tomorrow night”

Hubspot: “Struggling with time to get certified, Name?”

BuzzFeed: "Not Cool, Guys"

Lyft: ‘You’re getting 50% off rides”

Grubhub: “Last Day to See What This Mystery Email Is All About”

JetBlue: “You’re missing out on points.”


Some of the most hated email subject lines:  

We’ve all seen it. The worst subject lines are too general, overused, annoying or worst of all deceiving. What exactly is the message trying to be conveyed here? These desperate cries for attention are just asking to be sent to the spam folder.


“Trying to Connect”

“[Your Company Name Here] Weekly Newsletter”

“Open Me!”

“WeIRd CaPs SPelLInG”

“We want your feedback!”

“Shop now and save 75%, just kidding”

“Something of Interest”


Not every carefully-crafted email subject line is going to hit industry open rates. It’s important to come up with a few options and A/B test them to see what works. Keep an eye on how your emails are performing and build out a strategy based on these analytics.


Have questions about email marketing? We’re here to help, just ask On-Target!.