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100 Inspiring Subject Lines

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100 Inspiring Subject Lines And B2C Subject Line Trends since 2006 @chadswhite


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Chad White Lead Research Analyst, Salesforce Marketing Cloud Author of Email Marketing Rules @chadswhite


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The most effective subject lines are straightforward and predispose openers to engage with the content of an email. However, creativity has its place.


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You may not have a fantastic deal to tout. You might be using creative language to differentiate your non-promotional messages from sales-oriented ones.


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You may be newsjacking. You might be tapping into the voice of your customers. Or humor, wit, and pop culture references may fit your brand image.


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Whatever your reason, creativity in less than half the length of a tweet can give your emails the edge — especially when your subject line is backed up with great email content.


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To get your creative juices flowing, here are our picks for some of the most inspiring subject lines since 2006, along with some notable trends and events from throughout the years that have affected subject lines.


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Pre-dating the launch of the first iPhone, subject line writing in 2006 was geared toward desktop email clients, which generally displayed the first 60 or so characters of a subject line. 2006


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A great tongue-in-creek double-meaning sets up this email promoting gifts for National Bosses’ Day. Tell your boss what you really think FTD, 10/10/06 1 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #1 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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An engaging question, posed in Dracula’s trademark diction, introduces this email promoting Halloween costumes. Vhat vould Dracula vear? RedEnvelope, 10/3/06 2 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #2 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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After sending their entire list an offer for $20-off at a new store in San Antonio, this apology email subject line starts with the common “oops” or “sorry,” uses a little humor and extends the offer to every store to smooth things over. Oops! Texas isn’t THAT big! Save $20 anywhere. Sharper Image, 10/13/06 3 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #3 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line borrows the “coming soon” language of a product or movie announcement to nice effect for this email promoting winter gear. Coming Soon: SNOW! See REI's new winter gear now. REI, 10/27/06 4 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #4 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Promoting Harry & David’s Royal Riviera Pears, this holiday email uses a subject line that pokes fun at the “partridge in a pear tree” line in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. We've got the Pears ... who really wants the partridge or tree? Harry & David, 12/5/06 5 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #5 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The “get it on” pun is a perfect match with this retailer’s young, promiscuous brand image. Get it on. Our warmest, softest fleece... Abercrombie.com Abercrombie & Fitch, 11/2/06 6 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #6 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The subject line for this email promoting lip gloss starts off with run-of-the-mill language—then surprises you with unexpected “Kisses.” FREE Shipping with ANY Order, plus Holiday SAVINGS on Kisses Avon, 12/7/06 7 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #7 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007. As mobile reading of emails has grown, the recommended subject line length has shrunk from 50-60 characters in 2007 to 20-40 today. 2007


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RedEnvelope takes the familiar “pay nothing until…” language and spins it into a warning about the wrath of mothers who get bad gifts. Shop now for Mother's Day or pay until 2008. RedEnvelope, 5/11/07 8 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #8 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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At a time when most emails from retailers focused heavily on driving online sales, this subject line is dedicated to driving store traffic, which email does just as effectively. The holidays are just around the corner. Fortunately, so are we. RadioShack, 10/28/07 9 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #9 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Putting a spin on “I’d give you the shirt off my back,” Gap immediately projects generosity and compassion, setting the right tone for this (Product) Red t-shirt promotion. Can the Shirt off Your Back Change the World? Gap, 10/24/07 10 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #10 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line uses one manly archetype—Neanderthals— to promote another slightly more modern archetype of manliness—the grill master—for this email promoting grill-related Father’s Day gifts. Why man discovered fire. RedEnvelope, 6/4/07 11 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #11 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Using a little personification, Crate & Barrel brings fashion anxiety to tableware. What holiday tables are wearing...plus Free Shipping Crate & Barrel, 10/22/07 12 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #12 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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A mix between an intervention and the cops busting down your door and yelling, “Drop the drumstick, scumbag!” this subject line fits Urban Outfitters’ brand image and nicely promoted their after-Thanksgiving sale. Step away from the leftovers: Free Shipping Ends Monday! Urban Outfitters, 11/23/07 13 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #13 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Two words and one nice double-meaning are used in the subject line for this email, which promotes express shipping for delivery by Valentine’s Day. Express Love RedEnvelope, 2/12/07 14 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #14 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Surging gas prices were making headlines and brands mentioned them in their subject lines to convince subscribers to shop online rather than drive to stores. Video content was shiny and new and also getting mentions in subject lines. 2008


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With gas prices dominating the news and the public consciousness, TigerDirect uses gallons of gas as an alternative currency as a topical way of expressing the value of their offers. Over 150 Gallons of Savings from TigerDirect - See How... TigerDirect, 6/4/08 15 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #15 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Demonstrating that Toys “R” Us was tuned into consumer sentiment, this subject line was one of the first to use the neologism “staycation.” Save $10 on Stay-cation Shopping! Toys “R” Us, 6/27/08 16 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #16 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Riffing on how James Bond introduces himself, this subject line is a great lead in for the email, which touts the release of a new Bond novel, Devil May Care, on what would have been Bond creator Ian Fleming’s 100th birthday. Birthday. Happy birthday. Celebrating a New James Bond Release AbeBooks, 5/28/08 17 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #17 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Product reviews were superhot at the time and this subject line tapped into that interest. This subject line worked so well Norm Thompson reused the tactic with Jan. 28 subject line “Our KNIT JEANS get love letters. See what they say...” Fan mail for socks? Yes! And that's not all... Norm Thompson, 1/11/08 18 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #18 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Promoting their top 10 lip gloss gift sets, this subject line could easily be a headline for a piece in Cosmopolitan or Glamour, which speaks well to Sephora’s target audience. 10 ways to kiss Sephora, 12/3/08 19 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #19 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Matter of fact, perhaps a little shocking, and definitely unusual, this email notifies sweepstakes entrants right in the subject line that they didn’t win, but that there is a consolation prize. [VIEW EMAIL] You lost. Will 15% off make it better? Urban Outfitters, 12/11/08 20 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #20 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Tapping into election interest, this pithy subject line puns on the familiar “Rock the vote” saying and is backed up with Bluefly’s Fashion Decision ’08 feature, which asked customers about the fashion choices of the candidates. Rock the Coat Bluefly, 10/23/08 21 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #21 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Some people probably did a double-take on this subject line, which was for an email about getting a discount on new shoes in exchange for donating your old ones to charity. Selling Your Sole Can Be A Good Thing! Finish Line, 6/2/08 22 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #22 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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RedEnvelope tries to broaden the scope of Mother’s Day with the subject line for this email, which suggests buying gifts for coaches, stepmoms, mother-in-laws, and nannies. She's like a mom to you. Treat her special this Mother's Day. RedEnvelope, 4/29/08 23 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #23 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Sent on day 1 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, this email was very topical and appeared newsy, although the email promoted a selection of books about past Olympic scandals. Crisis at the Olympics AbeBooks, 8/8/08 24 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #24 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Promo codes started appearing in subject lines, allowing subscribers to get their discount without even opening the email. 2009


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What’s in it for me? How do I get it? Where do I get it? Focused on generating conversions rather than opens or clicks, this subject line answers all those questions—all without needing to open the email. Want Free Shipping? Use Promo Code 49SANTA At JCP.com! JCPenney, 11/8/09 25 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #25 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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With Valentine’s Day top of mind, this testimonial subject line made genius use of the double-meaning of “doormat” for this email promoting actual doormats. "Is it really wrong to love a doormat?" L.L. Bean, 2/3/09 26 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #26 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The power of threes meets weird in this subject line, which does a great job of creating intrigue. What do piranhas and Chihuahuas have to do with fashion? And who or what is Leyendecker? Piranhas, chihuahuas, and fashion! Meet Leyendecker Neiman Marcus, 8/30/09 27 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #27 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Now even easier and more common in the age of smartphones, this subject line asks subscribers to bring this email to a store to take advantage of the printable barcoded offer inside. Such campaigns were very rare at the time. Bring This Email to a Gap Store and Win, Starting 10/19 Gap, 10/19/09 28 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #28 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Piggybacking on the Oprah Book Club, AbeBooks creates an unofficial Obama Book Club that highlights books and authors Obama mentioned in interviews and promotes it in this timely email sent the day before his inauguration. Join the Barack Obama Book Club AbeBooks, 1/19/09 29 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #29 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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With the Great Recession underway, this subject line was super savvy and very much on the same wavelength as consumers, who were trying to stretch their holiday dollars. Gift Tip: Separate these sets into multiple gifts Sephora, 11/17/09 30 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #30 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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With a nod to erotica fiction, Victoria’s Secret sent several emails that December using the “Fantasy No. X” format. Who doesn’t want to know women’s fantasies? Although fulfilling over 300 fantasies sounds super-daunting. Fantasy No. 339... Victoria’s Secret, 12/19/09 31 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #31 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Staples put a fun Columbus Day double-twist on the saying, “Party like it’s 1999.” Save like it's 1492! Staples, 10/9/09 32 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #32 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The growing adoption of iPhones and Gmail ushered in the rise of snippet text as a “second subject line,” since those platforms display a preview of the first HTML text in an email. However, even now, most brands don’t fully optimize their snippet text. 2010


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Tapping into the endless speculation about when Tiger Woods would return to playing golf in the wake of his sex scandal, this newsjacking subject line grabs subscribers’ attention to promote the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. We know when Tiger is coming back. GameStop, 3/9/10 33 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #33 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Mocking the rise of Free Shipping Day and the retailers supporting it, this Manhattan-based retailer stresses their standing free shipping offer. It was a great branding moment—with a little NYC sass to boot. Free Shipping DAY? People Puhleeze, We Have Free Shipping All Holiday Season! J&R, 12/17/10 34 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #34 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The allusion to Cinderella turns a mundane message about an offer expiration into a delightful moment of brand expression. Last Day! Free Shipping Ends at the Stroke of Midnight! Disney Store, 9/20/10 35 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #35 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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A nudist event tomorrow at VS stores? Nope. They were only introducing The Nakeds by Victoria’s Secret line, but the creative wordplay likely boosted opens and garnered more…um… exposure for the launch. Get Naked: Tomorrow at Victoria's Secret. Victoria’s Secret, 3/29/10 36 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #36 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Appealing to subscribers’ self-interest, Kohl’s uses this subject line to promote that their Kohl’s Cares charity is giving away $10 million to schools and needs their customers to vote for deserving schools. We still have all this money to give away. Kohl’s, 8/11/10 37 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #37 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The Company Store uses the “…in bed” fortune cookie joke in their subject line to promote buying fresh bed linens. It was playful in a way that they weren’t usually, which made it stand out for them as a brand as well. Get Fresh...in bed The Company Store, 6/7/10 38 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #38 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Hey, I know how to spell my name. Gimme that discount! Well, it turns out that you didn’t even have to know how to spell your name to get the discount on personalized tees offered in this email. Spell Your Name & Save Up to 30% on Tees! Disney Store, 3/17/10 39 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #39 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Eddie Bauer leverages the rainy reputation of their hometown in this subject line to promote rain coats, umbrellas, and other wet weather gear. 90 Years in Seattle - We Know Rain! Eddie Bauer, 2/8/10 40 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #40 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The instructions in this subject line are like a mini-mystery. All is made clear when you open the Valentine’s Day message and find a printable “Do Not Disturb” doorknob sign. [VIEW EMAIL] "Print. Cut. Lock the door." Uncommon Goods, 2/7/10 41 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #41 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Figurative language bookended by two double-meanings makes for a nice subject line that taps into subscribers’ travel plans and travel-reading needs—or just their flights of imagination. Book your summer getaway here. Save 10% on first class reading. Barnes & Noble, 6/3/10 42 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #42 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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High school and college graduation gifts are common, but in this subject line and email, Toys “R” Us tries to extend this tradition to honoring the graduation of younger kids to the next grade. Grad Gifts for Scholars of ANY Age! View our favorites Toys “R” Us, 5/17/10 43 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #43 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Some thought subject lines would decrease in importance because of the late 2010 debut of Facebook Messages, which doesn’t support subject lines. However, the “not email” platform flopped. 2011


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A sign that personalization was moving beyond first-name, this subject line contained two personal data points and was a great lead into the email, which featured pictures of 57 connections that got new jobs during the past year. [VIEW EMAIL] Chad, 118 of your connections changed jobs in 2010. LinkedIn, 1/13/11 44 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #44 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Had this subject line said, “with your dog,” it wouldn’t have been nearly as personal and compelling. FetchDog asks subscribers for the names of their dogs, and puts them to good use in this personalized subject line. Add more fun to your walks with Suki FetchDog, 8/9/11 45 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #45 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Inserting their brand’s initials into the common expression of affection “XOXO” for this Valentine’s Day email’s subject line is a testament to the power of brevity. XOUO Urban Outfitters, 1/31/11 46 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #46 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line sounds a little gross—or kinky depending on your disposition—but Bed Bath & Beyond turns that into an aha moment when you open the email and discover it promotes pet products. Shop here. Get your face licked. Bed Bath & Beyond, 10/10/11 47 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #47 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The subject line for this email—which tells the story behind Lands’ End’s Starfish Pants, which got its name from customer requests—makes you feel like you missed out not only on a product, but on a conversation. Starfish: you named it. You bought every last pair. We made more. Lands’ End, 6/8/11 48 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #48 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Using consumer action and media attention for social validation amps up the intrigue of this question-based subject line. What bra sold 10,000 after being seen on the Today Show yesterday? Frederick’s of Hollywood, 5/4/11 49 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #49 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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While others were reminding subscribers to set their clocks back, Brookstone stood out by giving the exact opposite advice in this subject line for an email promoting clocks that set themselves and auto-adjust to Daylight Savings. Forget about daylight savings Brookstone, 10/25/11 50 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #50 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The forwarding request in this subject line is a clever device to get dads to open the email in order to see if it’s worthy of being forwarded. Plus, saying it’s “not for you” just makes you want to open it more. Dads: This Email is Not For You, Please Forward It To Your Family. Foot Locker, 6/8/11 51 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #51 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Sent in the wake of Hurricane Irene, this subject line expresses resilience. It doesn’t make light of the storm and isn’t exploitive, but rather conveys that they’re in the same boat as everyone else and carrying on as best they can. Additional 30% off sale + free shipping. Our power may still be out, but our sale is ON! J. Jill, 8/31/11 52 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #52 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line engages recipients by referring to what they’re doing at the moment—reading their email—and getting them to imagine doing it on a new tablet. Check your next email on this: the HP Tablet! HP, 7/18/11 53 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #53 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line is both festive and aspirational, challenging DIYers to dream big—like Santa’s workshop big. Build Your Own North Pole. Save up to 50% on Tools Lowe’s, 12/14/11 54 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #54 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Part of the then-emerging trend of brands abandoning corporate-speak and putting a face on their marketing, this subject line let subscribers know these Father Day gifts were picked by dads at Williams-Sonoma. Top 5 Gifts Selected by the Dads of Williams-Sonoma Williams-Sonoma, 6/6/11 55 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #55 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Lands’ End makes Santa’s sleigh super-express by hooking up a 10th reindeer, Procrastinator. It’s fun and seasonal, while also emphasizing that they’re addressing last-minute shoppers. Christmas delivery with express shipping - on Dasher, on Dancer, on Procrastinator Lands’ End, 12/21/11 56 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #56 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Target uses some baby talk in this subject line, betting in part that the unusual spellings will catch subscribers’ eyes. Baby Sale: Sweet wittle pwices. Target, 1/30/11 57 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #57 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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With just three short words, this is a wonderfully suggestive subject line promoting multi-way bras. Yours, All Ways... Victoria’s Secret, 4/14/11 58 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #58 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The language they use to build intrigue in this subject line connects directly and delightfully to the product being promoted in the email: air purifiers. Hold your breath until you see this. Bed Bath & Beyond, 5/10/11 59 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #59 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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With Dell channeling a little Jeff Foxworthy, this subject line sets you up to expect some comical reasons why you need a new PC, which the email delivers with a faux infographic. [VIEW EMAIL] You know it's time to upgrade to a new PC when... Dell, 9/23/11 60 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #60 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The subject line leaves you wondering if they’re making a literal or figurative statement, which drives you to open the email—and discover it’s a literal one thanks to first-name personalized images of charm bracelets. [VIEW EMAIL] This free bracelet has your name on it. Helzberg Diamonds, 8/17/11 61 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #61 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Special characters like hearts and stars started appearing in subject lines early in the year. Overall, roughly 1% of retailers’ promotional emails included a special character in their subject line during 2012. That tripled in 2013. 2012


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To support their rallying cry against internet censorship, this populist movement uses a series of special characters to create a black box as if the subject line were redacted. They want to ------ the Internet Avaaz.org, 12/10/12 62 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #62 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The special character in the subject line is mimicked in the email creative, creating a strong connection between the subject line and email’s body copy. The “well-rounded” pun on the special character is a bonus. [VIEW EMAIL] ? shoes for a well-rounded wardrobe Neiman Marcus, 11/12/12 63 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #63 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line is seasonal, intriguing, and wonderfully inspired by the retailer’s products—bags. The best gifts are opened again and again and again. eBags, 11/18/12 64 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #64 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Sent as the sun was coming up on this Black Friday, this subject line acknowledged that subscribers might be reading this email on a mobile device while they were out waiting for a store to open or driving to a store. Just Woke Up? Already Out? Swing By -- Stores Open at 5 a.m. Lowe’s, 11/23/12 65 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #65 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Tapping into people’s city-pride and desire to be right, this subject line engages with trivia that’s mined from the behavior of users of Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet. [VIEW EMAIL] Pop Quiz! What City is Home to the Most Angry Bird Players on NOOK? Barnes & Noble, 1/29/12 66 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #66 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Google made this announcement about the transition from Google Docs to Google Drive personally relevant to users by telling them in the subject line of this email how many of their files were affected. [VIEW EMAIL] You have 23 files waiting in Google Drive Google Drive Team, 9/13/12 67 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #67 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The tongue-in-check “girls” pun in the subject line for this Breast Cancer Awareness Month email softened a serious issue with a little humor. Help Fight Breast Cancer & Show The Girls You Care Lane Bryant, 9/28/12 68 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #68 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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As an extra incentive to get loyalty program members to open this update email, this subject line refers to the single-use promo code worth $100 off an order that ThinkGeek hid in the email. [VIEW EMAIL] ThinkGeek hides $100 in your 525 Geek Points update ThinkGeek, 6/21/12 69 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #69 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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With this email arriving not coincidentally between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the subject line uses the setup and punch line delivery of a good one-liner. Reward the one who never judges you. Top dog & cat supplies Wayfair, 6/11/12 70 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #70 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line makes it clear this message is actually one that someone sent Lands’ End and they’re now sharing with subscribers. It begs the questions: What made it worth sharing? And who is Arlene D.? [VIEW EMAIL] Dear Lands' End: A Valentine from Arlene D. Lands’ End, 2/14/12 71 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #71 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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While limited-time offers are common, this subject line incites competitiveness as well as urgency with a limited-quantity offer. Inspiron 15 - $499.99 for the first 1000 customers with this coupon. Dell, 9/11/12 72 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #72 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Acting like the helpful year-end “use it or lose it” reminder you should get from your FSA manager but don’t, this subject line makes you grateful to Warby Parker and receptive to their suggestions. [VIEW EMAIL] Time to use your flex spending account! Warby Parker, 12/27/12 73 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #73 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Hashtags in subject lines went mainstream. Their inclusion often drives social conversation at the expense of decreasing email opens a little bit. 2013


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While it’s an open-ended question, Feeding America clearly hopes that you’ll give back by supporting them and then talk about it on social media using the #GivingTuesday hashtag. How will you give back? #GivingTuesday Feeding America, 12/3/13 74 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #74 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Using special characters, Jeep creates a very good representation of their logo, adding great branding to this subject line. ?|||||||? Your Jeep newsletter is here. Jeep, 9/5/13 75 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #75 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This subject line starts off using common update confirmation language, but this email is a notification that Vizify has automatically updated your bio. Of course, subscribers will want to know how their bio has been changed. [VIEW EMAIL] Your bio's been updated. View what's new. Vizify, 10/3/13 76 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #76 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Something short of the standard double opt-in that requires a click in the subscription confirmation email, this one only requires that you open it, as its subject line makes clear. Glad You’re Here--Just Open to Confirm JCPenney, 1/2013 77 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #77 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Geeking up the staid “roses are red, violets are blue” rhyme, ThinkGeek used the eye-catching (and possibly head-scratching) hexadecimal color codes for the two hues in this subject line. ThinkGeek's roses are #FF0000, violets are #0000FF... ThinkGeek, 1/23/13 78 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #78 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Using money and minimalism to create intrigue, the micro-loan company included the balance for the recipient’s account in the subject line of this email, which asks them to put this money to work by loaning it out. [VIEW EMAIL] $62.14 Kiva, 10/10/13 79 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #79 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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You’re more likely to shop where you already have money on the table, and this rewards notification email’s subject line gives subscribers a compelling reason to wrap up Cyber Week by making another purchase. [VIEW EMAIL] You have $37.90 in Moosejaw Rewards Points Waiting to be Spent Moosejaw, 12/6/13 80 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #80 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Knowing that team pride helps drive sales, NFLshop leads off this subject line with the current record for my favorite team—which I indicated during signup—and then follows with a promotion. Your Patriots Are 4-0! Plus, Free Shipping on All Patriots Gear NFLshop, 9/29/13 81 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #81 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The first email in this 5-email welcome series sets the expectation right in the subject line to be on the lookout for four more introductory emails. Chad, your vacation fun starts at $249 (email 1 of 5) Carnival Cruise Lines, 1/2013 82 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #82 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Tapping into people’s love of checklists, this subject line lists the first couple of items in one and uses checkmark special characters to strengthen the effect. Summer checklist: ? Sarong ?Beach Towel... Vera Bradley, 7/1/13 83 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #83 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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In addition to creating a simple 1-2-3 list, the special character numbers in this subject line function like bullet points, allowing the subscriber to more quickly skim the text. ? Register. ? Spend $50 dining. ? Earn 150 miles. Delta Air Lines, 4/1/13 84 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #84 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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To strike the right back-to-school tone, this subject line uses a multiple-choice question to engage subscribers, taking the tried-and-true question-based subject line one step further. Q. Best accessory? a) lanyards b) IDs c) wristlets ... Vera Bradley, 8/14/13 85 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #85 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Topical since it was sent shortly before President Obama’s inauguration, this subject line leaves you wondering what worked? The email, which mimics the Obama campaign’s text-heavy emails, answers the question. [VIEW EMAIL] It worked for Obama... Moosejaw, 1/7/13 86 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #86 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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In addition to capitalizing on Michelle Obama’s popularity, this subject line uses the FLOTUS abbreviation for First Lady of the United States, keeping the text short while also sparking the curiosity of those unfamiliar with the term. FLOTUS-worthy frocks. ModCloth, 8/29/13 87 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #87 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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We solemnly swear we are up to no good... ThinkGeek, 7/31/13 88 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #88 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite? Using a quote from the Harry Potter books, this subject line connects with fans of the series for this email that celebrates J.K. Rowling’s birthday.


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More evidence that retailers are finding success with a content marketing approach, this subject line feels like it’s promoting a top 100 wines magazine article. And our #1 wine is… The Wine.com 100 is here! Wine.com, 12/4/13 89 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #89 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Sounding like a confession, this subject line starts by admitting they lied—which certainly piques people’s interest. It then pivots to a product promotion. We lied last time. THESE are the best Moosejaw jackets ever. Moosejaw, 11/13/13 90 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #90 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Emojis became a familiar sight in inboxes during the year, thanks to support by the native iPhone email app, Outlook.com, and other email clients. With emojis and special characters now available to marketers, images in subject lines have become commonplace. 2014


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Three emojis, two symbols, and two abbreviations gives this subject line the interactivity of a pictogram. This level of visual storytelling also means the subject line is extremely compact. Democratic National Committee, 8/20/14 91 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #91 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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While it doesn’t render perfectly on all platforms, the ingenuity it took to create this $100 bill is very impressive. Novel visual creations like this demand subscribers’ attention and create delight and engagement before the email is opened. Do you want a Free [??$??(??100)??$??]? Moosejaw, 11/26/14 92 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #92 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Leveraging all the messaging that brands send out to try to convince subscribers to download their apps, the subject line of this mobile app reengagement email surprises by revealing that the subscriber already has the app. The must-have app you already have TripIt, 8/2014 93 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #93 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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Most emails are about the recipient, but ones about their friends and family can be just as powerful, if not more so, as social networks have proven. This email celebrates the birthday and milestones of the subscriber’s son, as the subject line makes clear. [VIEW EMAIL] Wishing Henry a Happy, Healthy Birthday Gerber, 7/2014 94 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #94 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This maker of interactive children’s games keeps parents engaged by emailing them video clips of their kids responding to their app. What parent can resist an email with a subject line like this? Your kid said something awesome ToyTalk, 3/2014 95 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #95 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The math in this subject line surely caught a lot of subscribers’ attention. Twitter apparently noticed that some of their notifications weren’t being engaged with, so they are notifying subscribers that they have stopped sending those emails. [VIEW EMAIL] Fewer emails = happier you. Twitter, 5/14/14 96 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #96 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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The triples, abbreviations, and punctuation in this subject line made it eye-catching. And arriving just 10 days after Supreme Court actions led to 30 of the 50 states legalizing gay marriage made the email timely and culturally on topic. [VIEW EMAIL] Mrs + Mrs / Mr + Mr / Mr + Mrs? Blue Nile, 10/16/14 97 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #97 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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With this savvy subject line, Saks taps into the cultural anxiety of needing to be camera-ready all holiday season long because of smartphones. Holiday photos used to entail a bit of forewarning. Not so anymore. In a season of selfies, stay picture-perfect Saks Fifth Avenue, 11/25/14 98 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #98 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This bold and surprising subject line was perfect for promoting the email marketing agency’s new subject line performance predicting tool, Touchstone. The open rate for this subject line will be 28.72% Alchemy Worx, 7/1/14 99 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #99 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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This paradoxical subject line promises 10 reasons to open the email, which you get—of course—only after you’ve opened the email. Threadless’s subscribers likely appreciated this humorous irony. 10 Reasons to Open this Email Threadless, 12/31/14 100 CLICK TO TWEET: I love subject line #100 from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines What’s your favorite?


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We hope these examples have inspired you to look for your own creative subject line opportunities. Remember that…


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Content filtering now plays a minor role in deliverability at major ISPs, so don’t be afraid to use: • punctuation, special characters, emojis • all caps • formerly taboo words like “free” • really long or short subject lines


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We encourage you to run subject line tests routinely to discover which approaches and wordings your subscribers respond to best.


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And don’t forget that the best subject line is the one that generates the highest conversion rate or most sales, not the one that generates the highest open rate.


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Did you enjoy our 100 Inspiring Subject Lines? If so, please tell a friend or colleague about it. Good luck! CLICK TO TWEET: I got lots of great ideas from @Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines: http://extg.co/100SubjectLines Check it out!


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METHODOLOGY Subject lines were selected based on their innovativeness, uniqueness, and excellence as an example of an important trend. The performance of the subject lines was not a factor in their selection. SOURCES All subject lines were collected as a part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud research into subject line trends using both personal and anonymous email accounts.


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