32 Subject Lines to Improve Your Email Open Rates

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I love to geek out over email marketing. I swear I am in our email system almost daily checking on how our latest newsletter is doing, where people are clicking on our emails, and how our funnels are performing.

One thing I am really obsessed with is our email open rate. If you’re new to email marketing, you may be wondering, “what is an open rate?” The email open rate is calculating how many people that were sent your email actually opened your email! That gives you a percentage.

The average email open rate (from our research) is between 17-24%. Now, this can vary by industry, but for bloggers, we tend to fall into more of a “hobby” category for our emails, or leisure, and so a good open rate to aim for is above 20%.

Here at Thrive, we manage to average closer to 30%, but it takes work and knowing your audience to raise that percentage. So to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of subject lines to help improve your email open rate.

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Rules of the game:

  1. Don’t be clickbaity if you’re not going to deliver. Using something that’s eye-catching and makes you want to click is great! But, if you don’t actually follow through with that information, that’s a sure-fire way to turn off your audience and make them unsubscribe.
  2. Test test and test some more. Always be improving! If something falls flat with your audience, learn from it. Was it the time of day you sent the email, subject line, or the content in your email that didn’t work with your audience? Test what works and what doesn’t. Know your audience inside and out!
  3. Don’t use ALL CAPS or too many exclamations, it’s a turnoff and can also send your emails straight to spam. 

Mega List of Email Subject Lines: 

FOMO Subject Lines 

Also known as “the fear of missing out.” Act now, or you’re going to miss out and be disappointed. These types of subject lines are great for sales that are ending, holiday sales that are upcoming, a short-term promotion you’re offering, or a one-time-only event happening that you’re promoting. Studies show that the use of the word “tomorrow” also helps increase open rates. The key with FOMO is to create a sense of urgency.

  1. “Last Call for Dance Party Tickets!”
  2. “Easter 50% Off Sale Ending Tomorrow”
  3. “Thrive Conference Tickets Running Low!”

Curiosity Subject Lines

Remember, never clickbait! If you’re going to do a story tease, make sure you’ve got a story to tell within your email. It’s a great way to catch your audience’s attention and lead to something you’re wanting to share with your audience. 

  1. “My kids found my stash...”
  2. “I dropped the ball” 
  3. “16 tries later and here we are” 
  4. “Don’t Open This Email”
  5. “Well THIS wasn’t in my quarantine plans…” from Jenna Kutcher
  6. “9 Disgusting Facts about Thanksgiving”  from Eat this Not That 

Funny Subject Lines

This one speaks for itself. It could be the start of a joke or something that makes you laugh out loud just by reading it. Have something relatable that happened recently? How can you lighten the mood and bring joy to your audience through their inbox? When all else fails, tell a joke. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. “Blueberries or Bloobs?” (if you’ve got a blueberry recipe, you should try this!) 
  2. “Livin’ on a … lot of stale goldfish and wine” 
  3. “Yes, I’m pregnant, you can stop staring at my belly now.” from Baby Bump
  4. “Ew, David” -- Schitt’s Creek fans, where you at? 
  5. “Where to drink beer right now” sent at 6:45 am on a Wednesday, from Eater Boston
  6. “Sincerely, Tired”


Put on the charm. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves, so speak to that. We all have a little bit of vanity, even if we don’t want to admit it. We want to be accepted and feel liked. It’s part of our human nature, so use this to make your audience feel good about themselves and excited to read your email.

  1. “How to make everyone want your recipe”
  2. “You’ll turn heads in this dress”
  3. “Products the celebs are wearing” from Sephora
  4. “I’m feeling good today, and you can too”
  5. “Your butt will look great in these workout pants” from Fabletics 

Super Simple Subject Lines

Sometimes the subject lines that get the highest open rates are the most simple ones. 

  1. “Hey, you”
  2. “I quit”
  3. “I have a secret”
  4. “Not today”
  5. “Yes, this is a promotional email”
  6. “Best sandals ever”

Personalized Subject Lines

Address pain points, speak to them where they are at, and even use their name! You don’t have to do all three of these tactics at once, but here’s some example on how to use these ideas.

  1. “Hey Mary, can I tell you something?”
  2. “I don’t want to stay at home anymore.”
  3. “I almost gave up. Here’s why you shouldn’t.”
  4. “I am tired of cooking, how about you?”
  5. “What to do when you just can’t anymore” 
  6. “I wrote this blog post just for you, Amber”

Alright, the ball is now in your court! Take these ideas and get to work. Creativity and authenticity are key in creating some awesome subject lines that your readers will love, so make it fun. Be sure to let us know how your open rate is going in the Thrive Blogging Community.

If you need ideas for an opt-in to grow your email list, we have a list of 120 opt-in ideas that you can find in the Thrive Tribe, as well as more in-depth training for blog growth. Hope to see you there!

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