Inspiration: The best e-commerce email subject lines of 2019

Email marketers working in e-commerce know just how essential a powerful email subject line is, especially when it comes to standing out in an already crowded inbox. Having the right e-commerce email subject line can mean the difference between a sale and a lost subscriber.

With so many brands working hard to capture the reader’s attention, how can you craft a subject line that will get readers to take notice and open messages? 

In this post, not only will we help you craft a high-performing e-commerce email subject line, but we’ll give you a variety of examples that your marketing team can use for future email marketing campaigns. 

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Crafting a high-performing email subject line

When it comes to catching your reader’s attention in their inbox, you need to be sure you are writing email subject lines that genuinely stand out among the crowd. Thinks about it, the average consumer’s promotional folder probably resembles something like this:

The average consumer’s inbox is crowded with retailers looking for their attention

Source: Gmail

The sheer number of emails sent throughout the day can easily overwhelm consumers, which leads them to skim through their inboxes. This means that the will click and open the most relevant and eye-catching emails.

So, how can you craft eye-catching e-commerce email subject lines that will stop your readers in their tracks? Get started with these 3 tips.

1. Personalization is vital

Just as with your email copy, your email subject line needs to be personalized to your reader. In fact, personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened by readers. 

Now, that can mean including your reader’s name; however, that has become quite standards, and readers may still glaze over your email.  So, how do you avoid being skimmed over? You personalize it more with phrases like: 

  • “Just for you!”

  • “Did you watch?”

  • “You’re getting…”

Combining the first name plus adding “you” is a great way to stand out because you are ensuring readers that you are genuinely addressing them. 

Make sure you utilize all your subscriber data here so you can personalize even further with:

  • Purchasing history

  • Browsing history

  • Location-based deals and more

2. Use your limited character count to stand out

As more consumers switch from their desktop computers to their mobile devices for viewing their emails, marketers are losing valuable real estate. The average mobile device only allows for a subject line length of around 30-50 characters, if we’re lucky. So, that means marketers must make their character count stand out. 

Best ways to do that? Pack the most punch with as little as you can! If you can get your message across in 3-5 words, do it! Even better, utilize emojis if they make sense. For example, in the crowded inbox above, one email subject line stood out thanks to their crafty use of emojis:

 Don’t freak out! 🔪 Slash 13% off your ENTIRE order!

One brand utilized the Friday the 13th holiday to not only provide their readers with a nice little discount but utilized the knife emoji to hammer in the horror theme. Now, if it were us, we may have even removed the word “slash” thanks to the presence of the knife emoji, as it speaks for itself in this case.

3. Always test before you hit send

Finally, the only way to know what truly works with your audience members is to take the time to test each email subject line before you hit send. 

Thanks to A/B testing, finding out which e-commerce email subject lines work are easier than ever. This process allows you to set up two small test groups that are made up of your current email subscribers. Test group A gets email A with one email subject line, while test group B gets a similar email with a different email subject line. 

Determining the winner simply takes reviewing which email received the most opens and click-throughs. Whichever email subject line gets the most is then used for your final campaign that gets sent out to the rest of your email list.

The best e-commerce email subject lines of 2019

Understanding how to craft high-performing, e-commerce email subject lines is one thing, putting it into practice, now, that’s an entirely different story. 

We get it. Sometimes, the creative juices simply won’t flow. That’s why we’ve scoured the internet and browsed through hundreds, if not thousands of e-commerce email subject lines for you and compiled a list of some that we consider the best of the best! To help spark your creativity, here’s what we’ve found.

E-Commerce email subject lines that generate curiosity

Generating curiosity is one of the absolute best ways to entice a reader to stop and open your email. It’s not always easy to do, but when you can, it works wonders!

Take this example by MeetUp:

Example: You’re Featured

Curiosity makes your readers stop and wonder

Source: Really Good Emails

“You’re featured” piques the reader’s interest immediately. They will wonder why they’ve been featured, and for what. Meetup continues to make the reader wonder thanks to their email header, which reads: “Now trending: human connection.”

Not only is the reader left wondering, “what’s trending,” but also what the sender means by “human connection.”

Takeaway: Curiosity gets your readers to stop and wonder—which makes it perfect for an e-commerce email subject line.

Other examples of email subject lines that generate curiosity include:

  • Cheatsheet sneak peek

  • >Name<, is this the product you’ve been waiting for?

  • You deserve a little something extra, >Name<

  • Wanna see something special? ✨

E-Commerce email subject lines that generate urgency 

Scarcity and urgency are other great tactics to get your readers to stop and act right away. Why? Because they just do not want to miss out on whatever it is you have to offer. 

Take this example from Beauty Flash. Now, their email subject line had much more personalization to it, but we truncated it as an example of what it would look like on a small device.

The original subject line stated: Friday 13th Sale 😍 Limited Stock. Extra Savings on Dermalogica, Decleor, Kerastase, Redken, Elemis, Paul Mitchell & Pureology. Free Dermalogica Gift.

As much as we loved the details, users aren’t going to see all of that on their mobile devices. So, instead, we left it at:

Example: Friday 13th Sale 😍 Limited Stock. Extra Savings 

Make the reader act now by using a sense of urgency or scarcity

Source: Milled

Just the fact that the reader sees “limited stock” is enough to make them stop and open this message -  especially if they frequent this brand for their beauty needs. 

Takeaway: Play off a user’s FOMO response and include urgency or scarcity in your email subject line.

A few other examples of e-commerce email subject lines that generate urgency include:

  • Your dream rental could be gone tomorrow

  • Limited Edition: 

  • Get it before it’s gone

  • One more chance to get 50% off!

Free Offer e-commerce email subject lines

This one should seem like a no brainier. After all—who doesn’t like free things? This is especially true if you are trying to get a consumer to make a purchase on a pricey item. Throwing in a few extras always helps sweeten the deal.

In the case of this Casper email, they want their subscribers to check out their latest products. So, if the customer makes a purchase, Casper is willing to throw in a few free pillows.

Example: Fluff, yeah. Here’s our first September free gift offer.

Free trials and gifts are a great way to pique a reader’s interest

Source: Milled

When it comes to freebies, make sure they are of value to your readers and aren’t random items that serve no real purpose to your niche. 

Takeaway: Everyone likes a freebie! Incentivize your readers into opening your emails.

Other freebie subject lines worth trying to include:

  • Free trial offer

  • Free trial ending soon

  • Get your free sample today

E-Commerce email subject lines that show authority/expertise

Finally, show your audience members you mean business and have the knowledge they are looking for. Highlight your authority or expertise in your next e-commerce email subject line. 

In this example by Campaign Monitor, the audience members who’ve subscribed for these emails are always looking for ways to better their email marketing efforts. So, for their September email, Campaign Monitor decided to share their top 7 tips for building an engaged email list along with updating their readers on current email personalization tips. 

Example: September News: 7 Tips to Build an Engaged Email List + The State of Email Personalization

Show off your expertise with email subject lines that entice readers to open and read

Source: Really Good Emails

This is an excellent tactic for B2B businesses. Their audience members have come to them for both a product and knowledge. So, email subject lines that prove your expertise and authority will pique your reader’s interests. 

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to show off your knowledge by sharing it with your readers

Need some inspiration? Here are a few other email subject lines that help show off your authority and expertise:

  • What you need to know about….

  • Learn more about….

  • Let us show you how….

Wrap up

Crafting e-commerce email subject lines that are worth clicking isn’t tricky at all. However, it does take some time and plenty of practice. If you lack ideas for click-worthy email subject lines, then try to identify where your subject line belongs. Are you trying to:

  • Establish authority?

  • Spark curiosity?

  • Offer something of value?

Once you have a good idea of where your email subject line belongs, review our examples above and start crafting your own perfectly clickable e-commerce email subject line.

Need help writing more powerful emails? Let us help. Take a few moments to check out and review this helpful guide to writing e-mail like a boss.

About the Author

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our

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