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

Published on February 23rd, 2015 | 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 an 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 proven-to-work subject lines that you can test out for your email marketing campaigns.

First of all, I’m assuming at this point 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 is probably mostly aimed at selling. If you sell your own products or products from other manufacturers, you may be trying to announce new products, new seasons or discounts and sales. You’ll want your recipients to act fast, so you’ll want to have a sense of urgency in your subject line – perhaps by including an expiration or limited time call to action.

You’ll see in my examples that some of the 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 so let’s get on with the examples:

Offer, Offer, Offer

  • Enjoy this Special Offer at Our New Location
  • 25-40% off – Email-Only Offer – Today Only
  • You’re Invited! New Product Launch Party at [Your company] 
  • Ends Today! 20% Off Friends & Family
  • Top 10 under $10
  • Yours in 2 days (free shipping!) + 40% off
  • 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 to get 50% off!
  • Want 20% off your next order?
  • Enjoy [season] with rates from $65
  • Exciting new changes at [your company]
  • An Exclusive Offer for You
  • TODAY. Post [holiday] Flash Sale! 2 for $20
  • Last minute deals, special offers, and new [product name]
  • Don’t Let These Get Away
  • 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
  • Don’t miss this! Extra 50% off sale ends tonight!
  • Limited Supply: Limit 2 [product name] per customer
  • The [your company] holiday catalog is here!
  • Email subscriber exclusive: [Product name] sale is here
  • Ends Today: Take 20% off your entire order
  • Last chance! Be sure to grab the best price!
  • Your choice of amazing items $50 + under
  • Great gifts for [Dad, Mom, etc]
  • Best Sellers Every [girl, boy, man, woman, dog, etc.] Needs
  • Everything you need when the temperatures [rise, fall]
  • [Hot, Cold?] Stay indoors and save.

Catchy & Creative

  • Sometimes all you need is a little vase lift  (retailer selling vases)
  • Seriously flattering jeans (retailer selling jeans, obviously – swap out jeans with your own product )
  • How [your company] got its name (retailer selling lingerie, telling a story inside the email)
  • Temperatures Fall, Style Rises (retailer selling coats)
  • Celebrity Favorites (retailer selling accessories that Hollywood is wearing)
  • Uh oh. Did you forget someone on your list? (coffee retailer suggesting subscription boxes)
  • 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 [your product] (retailer suggesting items 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 TVs with a sports slant)
  • Party Like it’s 1999 Aged Cabernet Special (wine retailer)
  • Get in Our Pants (retailer selling new product line)
  • It’s okay, you can wait till the last minute. (sale reminder)
  • Make room in that closet (clothing retailer announcing a new product)
  • Bring this email to our store and win! (retailer trying to get store traffic)
  • send some. get some. (florist rewarding customers with a $10 coupon for pre-ordering flowers for an upcoming holiday)
  • New Feature: Reviews by You! (retailer introducing customer reviews to products online)

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

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Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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23 Responses to 50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines

  1. Javier Sardá says:

    Thanks Janine, I like much better the Catchy & Creative ones, although I am pretty sure that most retailers mainly use the “Offer” ones. I wonder which ones have higher open rates and CTR’s.

  2. Pingback: Great Retail Email Marketing - Skadeedle

  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…”.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

  11. 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!

  12. Anna says:

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

  13. 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.

  14. don laskin says:

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

  15. Lanny Feder says:

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

  16. 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.

  17. M.McKenzie says:

    Some great subject line examples!

  18. 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.

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

  20. Machlis says:

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

  21. John C. Young says:

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

  22. 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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