Content Marketing and Copywriting 50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines

Published on October 27th, 2009 | by Janine Popick


50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines

Here at VerticalResponse, we’re always being asked things like, “What is the best day to send email?” or “What are the real email marketing secrets?” and “What are some great subject lines?” I decided to focus this post on that last one, and offer some really great and proven-to-work subject lines that you can test out for your email marketing campaigns.

First of all, I’m assuming at this point that your recipients will recognize you from your “From Label.” If they’re familiar with who the email is coming from, you’ll have better luck getting your email opened with a catchy subject line.

As a retailer, your email marketing campaigns are probably all about selling. If you sell your own products or products from other manufacturers, you’ll be trying to announce new products, new seasons or discounts and sales. You’ll want your recipients to act fast, so you may want to try expiration dates in your subject line. We even see businesses using hours in the day in their expiration time periods.

You’ll see that some of these subject lines are a bit vague like “An Exclusive Offer for You,” however, sometimes that might get more opens than if you talk about a specific product. That’s something that you need to test for yourself in your own campaigns.

Offer, Offer, Offer

  • Enjoy this Special Offer at Our New Location
  • 25-40% off – Email-Only Offer – Today Only
  • Invitation-Only 2 Hour Event Starts 11:30 AM CT
  • Ends Today! 20% Off Friends & Family
  • Top 10 under $10
  • Free shipping – offer ends in 3 days
  • Free product with purchase of [product name]
  • [New Product] has arrived. Order now before we run out.
  • Earn double points for [insert product or action].
  • Last Chance: Get up to $25 now
  • Save 10% on your next order
  • Enjoy [season] with rates from $65
  • Service Notice: Exciting new changes at [your company]
  • An Exclusive Offer for You
  • [Your company] October Specials
  • Last minute deals, special offers, and new [product name]
  • Act Now to renew your [subscription name]
  • Online only: 25% off friends and family
  • Introducing our latest…[product/feature here]
  • [Product name] Promotion week. Save 25%
  • Extended for a day! Get Free shipping through Friday
  • Stock up and save 15%
  • Limited Supply: Limit 2 [product name] per customer
  • Ho-ho-ho: The [your company] holiday catalog is here!
  • Email subscriber exclusive: [Product name] sale is here
  • Ends Today: Take 20% off your entire order
  • Private Sale Ends Today
  • Your choice of amazing items $50 + under
  • Great gifts for [Dad, Mom, etc]
  • Best Sellers every [girl, boy, man, woman, dog, etc.]
  • Everything you need when the temperatures [rise, fall]
  • Free Shipping–Limited Time Offer

Catchy & Creative

  • Sometimes all you need is a little vase lift  (retailer selling vase’s)
  • We’ve got you covered from head to toe (retailer selling hats, shirts, pants and boots)
  • How La Perla got its name (retailer selling lingerie, telling a story inside the email)
  • Temperatures Fall, Style Rises (retailer selling coats)
  • Celebrity Favorites (selling accessories that Hollywood is wearing)
  • Did you remember to get a gift? It’s ok, we did. (retailer wanting to get people to register for gift reminders)
  • 10 Gift Ideas for your little ones (retailer listing top 10 suggestions for kids)
  • Manhattan View for a Song in the Shower (retailer selling shower curtain with Manhattan skyline on it)
  • Take your pick: Our 9 Favorite Dresses (retailer suggesting by popularity)
  • Coolest modern desk on the job…for $149 (retailer including price in the subject line)
  • Score Great Savings on Game-Time Gear: HDTVs, Furniture & More (retailer selling TV’s with a sports slant)
  • Party Like it’s 1999 Aged Cabernet Special (wine retailer)
  • In our store: Last minute Mother’s Day combo ready to go (retailer getting the last minute shoppers with a catch “combo to go”.)
  • Adorn Your Home Now & Through the Holidays (Home decor retailer)
  • Mind-Blowing Grenache (wine retailer)
  • Bring this email to a Gap store and win! (retailer trying to get store traffic)

I hope this gets your creative juices flowing. If you’ve got some great subject lines that have worked for your business, comment and let us know.

Send emails with great subject lines using VerticalResponse – Free up to 1,000 contacts and 4,000 emails per month.

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About the Author

is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse.

25 Responses to 50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines

  1. Pingback: Great Retail Email Marketing - Skadeedle

  2. Dean says:

    It certainly makes all the difference in the world what is placed on the subject line. Email can be tricky and a lot of testing to get it right. A lot to know for sure. Take a look at this
    email marketing course curriculum from this top university to gain perspective.

  3. 10 percent of these subject lines have been used by me in different occasion.

  4. Anna Watson says:

    Those are some great lines, thanks for sharing..

  5. Mark says:

    Hmmm interesting.
    I manage a number of email lists for retailers and I personally found offers, % off, etc subject line emails have a much lower open rate than more “human” subject lines like “Check out our new Autumn range…”.
    You can test for yourself.
    Use email software than measures the open rate of emails – you’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t.

  6. Ryan says:

    I do email marketing myself (usually on safelists), and find this post pretty useful.

  7. Good list. But I am surprised how one of the most famous line is missed out in this list. Buy 1 get 1 free!

  8. Christine says:

    I’m so glad you sent the link to this page in your VR Buzz newsletter (so many months after the list was originally published). Your website is full of great resources and there are so many pages I never even expected to exist.

  9. I like it, it’s a good list. Your setting a mood of urgency, and telling them what you want them to do.

  10. Mount Juliet says:

    Great list of subject lines – we are going to try one of these to promote our new offer which is going out tomorrow.

  11. Susan says:

    For the non-profit: Many of the subject lines listed above can be re- spun to fit your organization. Try these on: Limited Supply: Water; Take your pick: Haiti, Darfur, Somalia; Last chance to help a refuge. And sometimes the best subject line is the good news: 100 dogs saved; Fort Mill Playhouse raises the roof; Library has 1M books. Read one today.
    Just ideas.

  12. Wow, this great subject line thanks you for this to us.

  13. Scott Warnke says:

    Well, I’d have to side with the majority of the comments here…while these are great subject lines, I could really use a few selections for non-profit email, both for those soliciting donations and those focusing on mission awareness. Thanks!

  14. Anna says:

    Yes, I would love some great non-profit subject lines as well, especially for holiday donation catalogs or newsletters.

  15. I agree with Brooke and others- these are great when you have retail oriented emails to send but what about sharing information and raising brand and mission awareness.
    Running a psychotherapy practice many of my emails are not about buying something and I find that it gets tough to be creative with the subject line. would love to see a list of 50 best subject lines of health services or a similar category too.

  16. don laskin says:

    You left out the best one:
    50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines

  17. Lanny Feder says:

    Interesting subject lines for selling products. What do you suggest for selling B to B services?
    Lanny Feder

  18. Those are all great “Calls to Action” for a retail store, I have even used some of them in the past. But right now I am with Brook, I need nonprofit fundraiser and mission awareness subject lines. Any suggestions would be great, I would settle for 10 good ones.

  19. M.McKenzie says:

    Some great subject line examples!

  20. VK says:

    I actually plan to try some of these, but doesn’t having the word “free” in your subject line, or even the body of the email it seems lately, get you filtered out as spam?
    I have noticed that this is especially a problem when a client has a yahoo address, whether or not they have our email in their address book.
    Free is really powerful, but only when you can use it.

  21. Janine,
    This was a great list. I am always looking for catchy subject lines and these are great!

  22. Machlis says:

    I agree with Brooke. As a non-profit community group, what subject lines will get people to open the email?

  23. John C. Young says:

    How about the best 50 “pickup lines” for cold calling new prospects?

  24. It’s so clear that call to action & active subject lines seem to always win.
    But when you’re writing a subject for a nonprofit email that is NOT about soliciting donations, then calls to action get trickier.
    I’d love to see 50 of the best nonprofit subject lines (that aren’t all fundraising).

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