Subject lines can make or break the open rates for your email. Therefore, it’s imperative to continuously test the content, tone, and length of your subject lines to see which ones work better. Often the results of your tests will surprise you and your gut instincts will be proven wrong. It is important to having data to back up your decision-making. It’s also helpful to learn from other senders. Recently, we’ve seen some subject lines that missed the mark for being too ambiguous, too forward, or too generic. So let’s take a look to learn from them:

  1. Curious What’s Inside? (You Should Be) – Telling people how they should or shouldn’t be can have a negative effect. This subject line from a popular women’s retailer was meant to pique the recipient’s curiosity, but it’s really just a turn off. Sometimes it’s a fine line between being cheeky and being patronizing with your customers, so air on the side of being more traditional if you have any doubts or add an action item like (Take a look…) to add some more purpose.
  1. 272,146 people have signed on – you’re not one of them – Sign onto what? Unless you’re talking to people who follow things blindly, this sender needs to be more specific in order to elicit a reaction from their recipients. Maybe the reason some people haven’t signed on is that they don’t know what they’re being asked to do! Take this example as a lesson—the main point of your  subject line is to inspire an action from you user, but it’s only going to do that if your reader can connect the dots. Don’t leave your recipient scratching their head by being too ambiguous in your subject line—give them a clear reason to open your message.
  1. Last Chance to Save – This must be the most common subject line from retailers. We all know you’ll eventually have another sale at some point in the near future. So, it’s not really our last chance to save. It might be for right now, but not forever. Try something a little less commonplace if you want to drive an open.
  1. Your shopping bargains for Monday. Your shopping bargains for Tuesday. Your shopping bargains for Wednesday. – Do these daily emails look familiar? Boring, right? Instead of using the same subject line for your daily deals, make it more intriguing by adding a specific item (tailored to your recipients’ past purchase behavior) or brand for variety.

Email subject lines aren’t an exact science, so don’t feel badly about writing some copy that doesn’t convert the first time. Just be sure to continue to test and learn from that experience and from the examples above to make sure that each subsequent subject line you write is a winner.

With more than 15 years of experience, Carly Brantz is an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. As the VP of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid, Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, Carly leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other Marketing conferences.