#DoingItRight: 8 Great E-mail Subject Lines

I’m a metric-minded retail manager’s dream. As a consumer, I sign up for everything: point clubs, e-newsletters, subscription boxes, and  e-coupons. However, my e-mail inbox is likely enough to make a minimalist break out in a cold-sweat.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking: hey, I’ve been reading this great book: The Life-Changing magic of Tidying up…just saying…

But I’ll stop you right there. There’s a reason for the madness. As a marketer, I’m scoping out the competition. I use my inbox as a brainstorming stomping ground of sorts. I take the things that “got me” as a consumer and I analyze. What about this subject line appealed to me? How can I apply this to the work that I’m doing? To show you what I mean, here are 8 of my favorite #DoingItRight e-mail subject lines as of late. That is to say, they got me to click-through.

1.Victoria’s Secret: These gifts were made for lounging. Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 10.48.01 AM.png

#DoingItRight: Even though I get a million and two e-mails from Victoria’s Secret, I actually paused and clicked through this one. Why? I sang the subject line, in my head of course, to the tune of Nancy Sinatra’s These boots are made for walking. I’d be willing to bet this was a strategic move on the part of the digital copywriter. It’s fun. It’s a little nostalgic. It (almost) makes you forget that it is a promotional e-mail. Well played, Victoria’s Secret.

2. Relax the back: What Keeps You Up at Night?

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 10.47.01 AM.png

#DoingItRight: Questions are engaging. Especially this one – it’s an age-old question. It doesn’t matter who you are, it applies. Paired with the fact that it is totally applicable to the product they are selling: ergonomically designed products to aid you in a better night’s sleep, it is a winning combination.

3. Forever 21: We ain’t MESHIN’ around

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 10.52.10 AM.png

#DoingItRight: Sassy, commanding tone that’s spot on for Forever 21’s demographic, using clever wordplay incorporating product for sale. BOOM.

4. EAM Staffing: Please Accept My Letter of ResignationScreen Shot 2016-11-16 at 10.58.59 AM.png

#DoingItRight: Shock. It cuts right through the clutter of your inbox. What is this? Oohhhh. I see what you did there. Well played, EAM staffing. Be careful with this particular tactic, though. It is effective only if used right; once someone clicks through, you’d better have a compelling e-mail body.

5. Tattly: Alphabet-ter Believe it!

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 11.06.42 AM.png

#DoingItRight: Taking cues from popular culture, possibly a nod to wordplay from the Acapella movie Pitch Perfect with their addition of aca- to certain words: Aca-scuse me, Aca-awesome, Aca-bitches. Either way, its playful, relevant and catchy with appropriate emoji use.

6. lululemon athletica: you’re such a softie

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 11.10.17 AM.png

#DoingItRight: Direct and conversational, this subject line seems random and intriguing. It may even get you to say, “Um, No…I am obviously a badass woman.” What’s more, it is completely relevant to a product line they are promoting.

7. Rally House: Stay Warm All Season Long, Motor City

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 11.46.18 AM.png

#DoingItRight: Do you get annoyed with e-mail blasts that use your name? Yes, yes, mass personalization is all the rage in marketing – I get it. However, automatically inserting a customer’s name seems to be the anti-thesis of actual personalization. This subject line seems to be the right touch of personalization, aimed at my hometown. Enough to make it feel like they know something about me, but not so I feel like a data point they are pulling from a spreadsheet – accurate but disingenuous.


8. Pad & Quill: Your Macbook Just Went Pro

Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 2.23.38 PM.png

#DoingItRight: This is a classic ‘see what we did there’ move. It’s witty, calls out the product and makes you wonder what else they’ve got up their sleeve. CLICK.

Alright, let’s wrap this up. Of course, each person may be grabbed just a little differently by e-mail subject lines, as we are all looking through our own ‘lens’ of experiences. However, all of these subject lines have a few things in common:

  1. None of them contain the words sale, clearance, coupon or %off.
  2. They are all evoking some kind of emotion: amusement, curiosity, shock..etc.
  3. They all very closely tie back to the product.
  4. They are conversational and each subject line clearly exhibits the personality of each respective brand.

Some things to ponder, for sure. I’d be curious to know what makes it through your own personal ‘filter’ in your inbox.

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