Article first published April 2016, updated March 2019

Email marketing is a powerhouse tool for retailers, as it’s affordable, effective, and well received by customers.

Research shows 28% of subscribers sign up for a company’s email list to stay informed, and another 27% subscribe to save money.

Once you have these leads secured, you want to keep them interested by using excellent marketing strategies.

You have to make sure the content you provide is valuable, the offers are noteworthy, and the subject lines are immediately enticing.

Without a robust subject line, you’ll lose most of your potential sales, because the subject line is the first line of contact—for retailers, this is where you can compel users to click or leave them to keep on scrolling.

What should I write as my email subject line?

All brands are different, so the language that works for one retail brand won’t work for another, but it is important that brands invest in compelling, creative, and captivating subject lines to draw users in—new and old.

A subject line needs to make an impact and capture a brand identity and, most importantly, it needs to give consumers a reason to read on.

How do you write a catchy subject line?

From clever emojis to play-on-words, the possibilities are endless. What’s important is that marketers innately understand their audience so they can craft subject lines that resonate with the ideal consumers.

As email use grows, retailers must hone their marketing skills, and that includes creating subject lines that convert subscribers to loyal customers.

To create a truly catchy subject line, take into consideration who your target audience is. You can always look to your competitors to see what they’re doing.

We scoured through hundreds of emails and pulled out 75 stellar retail email subject lines and provided some helpful tips to help inspire your next email campaign.

75 retail email subject lines to inspire your next campaign

The list of subject lines has been broken down into six categories:

Discounts and deals

  • Sephora: You’re invited: 10% off for Beauty Insiders
  • Nissan: Weekend sale. Inventory you need to see.
  • Rip Curl: Two for two
  • Pizza Hut: Friday night discounts you don’t want to miss
  • HP: Flash. Sale. Alert.
  • Guess: 25% off your favorites
  • Pizza Hut: Feed your guests without breaking the bank
  • Sephora: Ends today: Get 10% off all purchases
  • Rapha: Last chance to get 25% off all base layers
  • Guess: Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream
  • IKEA: Deals for a fresh new look
  • Guess: Last chance to earn $100 to shop
  • Converse: Hundreds of new markdowns added today
  • IKEA: Save with this week’s flyer
  • La Mer: Exclusive offer: Free samples of award-winning facial masks
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs: Enjoy a birthday gift on us
  • HP: Save big on ink
  • Topshop: Shop now. Save big.
  • Guess: Free shipping extended
  • La Mer: A little luxury at a great price
  • Rapha: Complimentary gift wrap on all purchases

Last chance

  • Birchbox: Last chance to get in on this hot deal
  • Jaybird: Last chance to save big this holiday
  • Pizza Hut: Tonight only. Save $5 on your order.
  • Sephora: Last day: Pick your 5 faves
  • La Mer: Get it while it’s in stock
  • Converse: Ending in 24 hours: 25% off sitewide
  • HP: Time is running out…Save up to $300
  • Rapha: Your savings code expires today
  • Guess: Don’t wait. You’ll miss out on the sale of the year.
  • Sephora: 3 Days only – 10% off and free shipping

Problem solvers

  • Sephora: Your beauty issues, solved
  • IKEA: Where do all these toys go?
  • Guess: Don’t wear last year’s styles.
  • IKEA: Storage problems solved
  • De Beers: Uncover your bridal style
  • HP: Stop wasting money on ink
  • Le Mer: 8-minute miracles. Try these products.
  • HP: Solve all your printing problems
  • Guess: Wanted: Cute and affordable fashions
  • IKEA: Get more kitchen space with these easy fixes
  • Topshop: Meet your new jeans
  • Rapha: Gift inspiration for the discerning cyclist
  • La Mer: Age-defying beauty tricks


  • Rapha: As worn in the World Tour
  • Topshop: Beyoncé’s Ivy Park is here
  • Topshop: New Beyoncé line is just two days away
  • Guess: You won’t believe who’s partnered with us
  • Sephora: Products the celebs are wearing
  • Seafolly: Swimsuits of celebrities

Socially savvy

  • Converse: See the best deals on Facebook
  • Sephora: Get insider tips on our Facebook page
  • Guess: Stay in the know. Follow us on Twitter.


  • Sephora: Psst! You’ll want to pass this one on…
  • Rip Curl: Pass on the savings
  • Guess: Refer a friend and save big
  • Nissan: Bring a friend to our event and save
  • Birchbox: Tell a friend. Get a month free.
  • Sephora: Bring a friend to our VIP party

New arrivals

  • Topshop: Minimal and cool, the new collection is here
  • Nissan: Go green in 2016 with a new eco-friendly car
  • Topshop: Get a head start on summer
  • HP: New must-haves for your office
  • Nissan: Sign up to be notified when Titan XD arrives
  • Converse: Converse custom prints for spring
  • Seafolly: A new product you won’t pass on
  • Nissan: Your inside look at the all-new 2017 Nissan Armada
  • Mercedes-Benz: Luxury awaits
  • Pizza Hut: New toppings. New dinner plans.
  • De Beers: Her style awaits
  • Rapha: The new Brevet Windblock Jersey


  • Jersey Mike’s Subs: Lisa, Earn double points today only
  • Pizza Hut: Bob, try our new treat
  • Seafolly: Hot new summer arrivals just for you
  • Guess: Lindsey, check out these hand-picked looks

Subject lines 101: 6 tips for retailers

We have some suggestions to help you write catchy email subject lines that sell. What works for some won’t work for all, but keeping these tips in mind can help you craft the subject line that drives sales.

Here are the six tips:

1. Optimize your subject line length for your subscribers

Research indicates subject lines that are about 65 characters in length are best, but it’s best to look at your subscribers and what email clients and devices they use so you can optimize your subject lines to fit. To get this information in Campaign Monitor, for example, you can look in the Reporting section of your account under Email Client Usage.

Here are some great retail email subject lines examples from three Campaign Monitor customers:

retail subject lines

2. Personalization works

Personalized messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

You’ll notice that only a handful of the retail email subject line examples listed have a personalized element, which shows how few businesses are using this feature.

As a business, make personalization a goal. Add a subscriber’s first name to a subject line and consider curating products for certain segments of your list based on buying behaviors.

3. Show a sense of urgency

There are a fair amount of subject line examples in the “Last Chance” category that encourages subscribers to take advantage of last-minute deals. These examples all show a sense of urgency, which is something you should strive to do in every subject line.

Provide a deadline and remind people of the limited time left, or rely on “fear of missing out,” or FOMO.

Be sure to add urgent words and phrases like “act,” “today,” “don’t miss out,” or “last chance” to dial up the urgency in your subject lines.

4. Don’t be repetitive

Every email should have a different subject line—even if you send out a regular email that covers similar topics, like a deal of the week or monthly style picks. Seeing something repetitive subject lines like this in an inbox is an instant turn-off:

amazon repeated email subject line

5. Add numbers to your subject line

When you’re staring at a long list of emails and scanning the subject lines, numbers really stand out. The eye is automatically drawn to them. Research shows that people read blogs with numbers in the title 45% more often than those without, and it stands to reason that the same would apply for email subject lines.

If you’re hosting a sale, state the savings in percentages. If you’re offering a limited-time deal, mention the number of hours that subscribers have left to take advantage of it. Try to weave numbers into your subject lines when you can.

6. Add an emoji

Just as numbers stand out, so do emojis. Whether you opt for a heart or smiley face, 56% of brands that use an emoji in the subject line see higher open rates.

However, there are a few tips to keep in mind when adding an emoji to your email: make sure the emoji you use is appropriate and relevant to your message, don’t overuse them, and, if an emoji doesn’t fit with your company’s overall tone, don’t force it.

Email subject lines for 2019—what to know

Subject lines are more important now than ever before. These simple lines of text can make or break an email marketing campaign for retailers.

It’s important that you’re sending the right message right off the bat. This can take time and skill, but here are some helpful things to keep in mind when creating subject lines in 2019, in addition to the tips listed above.

Be creative

Consumers want creativity. They want a subject line personalized to them and they also want to know that a brand has a personality and a heart.

Marketers can provide these kinds of subject lines by using fun and flirty language that grabs attention instantly and leaves a lasting impression.

Keep it simple

To get users engaged, you must give them short bits of information at a time. They don’t want to read through a novel’s worth of information in a retail email subject line.

People have short attention spans and, in 2019, this is has become even more of an issue. Technology makes it harder and harder for people to pay attention to content the way they used to. Therefore, simplicity and concision in subject lines are extremely click-worthy.

Be direct

Consumers want transparency from brands, and transparency comes from being extremely direct with your audience.

Brands should always let their personality shine, but they should also be direct and true in their intentions. If you’re selling something, sell it. Be direct and be sincere, as this will win over the hearts of more consumers instantly.

Wrap up—how to craft a retail subject line that sells

Retail email subject lines are meant to sell, so they’re different from other emails. Don’t rush forming a subject line to get an email out the door. Take some time to think about it before sending an email out.

Brands must take the time to understand their audience, find out what messaging resonates, and build an email campaign and subject line that really drives their messaging home.

When it comes time to craft the right subject line, retailers should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Find the right subject line length
  • Play with personalization
  • Create urgency
  • Drop the repetition
  • Use numbers
  • Try using emojis

The tips here are designed to help and entice subscribers to open an email and act. With a little more practice and out-of-the-box thinking, you’ll be one step closer to a successful retail email marketing campaign.

If you’re a retailer looking to improve your email marketing campaigns, check out this guide specifically for retail marketers!

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