Lead generation strategies build on one another. First, you collect email addresses. Then you nurture your leads. If you can’t get people to open your emails, you’ve lost potential sales.
Catchy email subject lines give your leads a reason to engage further with your business. They beckon to the reader, when written correctly, to explore the rest of your email.
But how do you write catchy email subject lines? Let’s dig in deep and make your email campaign even better.
What Is the Subject Line of an Email?
An email subject line appears in an email client to let the reader know what the email is about. The location depends on which email client you use. If you’re accessing Gmail from a desktop computer, for instance, your subject lines appear after the name or email address of the sender.
The reader might also be able to see some of the body copy.
A subject line needs to give the reader a reason to open it. WIthout incentive, the reader might as well dump it in the trash — or worse, the spam folder. That’s where catchy email subject lines come in.
How Many Words Should I Use in a Subject Line?
Lots of people access their emails on mobile devices these days. When you view your email on a smaller screen, less information appears for each email in your inbox.
Brevity counts when it comes to email open rates. According to a study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, subject lines with between one and 20 characters outperformed longer email subject lines by more than 30 percent.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to shorter subject lines. You’ll find statistics for every possible word count, with some sources stating that 13+ words is best and others making cases for subject lines of between seven and nine words.
The real question is this: How many words do you need to captivate your audience?
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How Do You Draw Attention to an Email? And Why Do You Need Catchy Email Subject Lines?
Imagine your inbox when you wake up in the morning or when you check it on Monday after ignoring it for the weekend. What does it look like?
People receive lots of emails, and they only have so much bandwidth for emails related to marketing. They’re going to open messages from friends, colleagues, associates, clients, customers, and vendors before they’re going to touch yours.
And what if there are 10 marketing messages in an inbox? The recipient will probably only look at a couple, and you want one of those to be yours.
Catch email subject lines make that eventuality more likely. You can use the formulas I list below to make it happen. But first, you have to capture those emails.
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Catchy Email Subject Line Formulas
I’m going to provide you with more than 50 catch email subject lines, but first, I want to talk about formulas and why they work.
You might think that a formulaic approach to copywriting would be a bad thing. After all, don’t unique and different subject lines get better responses?
The answer is “yes.” However, catchy email subject line formulas help inspire you. By filling in the blanks, as I’ll describe below, you can get as quirky, funny, surprising, or insightful as you want.
Categories You Will Need to Fill In
My formulas for catchy email subject lines each include one or more categories that you’ll need to fill in to suit your specific purposes. It’s kind of like a mathematical formula. You plug in numbers for A, B, and C to balance out both sides of the equation.
Let’s look at those categories so you know how to approach them correctly. I’ll use a topic related to weight loss as an example to keep you on track.
When you think of positive results in the weight loss industry, you think of pounds shed and muscle gained, right? You’re looking for an insight you can share with your audience that gives them a light at the end of a tunnel.
For instance, your subject line might look like this: “How John lost 300 pounds in three years.”
That’s a positive result. You’re not giving away the full story — you’re suggesting the result to inspire curiosity and desire.
A negative result is the exact opposite. You’re picking at pain points here to help your readers better understand why a negative result might occur — or to help them prevent it from happening to them.
Your negative result subject line might look like this: “Why John Tried to Lose Weight for 10 Years — And Nothing Happened.”
That phrase — “And Nothing Happened” — is your negative result. People want to know why.
Your overall topic is kind of like a category title on your blog. In weight loss, it might be dieting, exercising, motivation, or calorie counting. The overall topic could also be the primary topic related to your business: weight loss.
An overall topic subject line might look like this: “Weight Loss: What You’re Doing Wrong.”
You’ve stated the topic clearly in the subject line so people know what to expect.
We all love controversy, right? It keeps us awake at night and challenges us to consider topics more thoroughly.
A controversial topic subject line might look like this: “IIFYM Doesn’t Work”
This is controversial because lots of people follow the if-it-fits-your-macros approach to weight loss. You’re taking a controversial stand and saying that it actually doesn’t work. Just be prepared to back up your controversial opinion.
When formulas for catchy email subject lines ask for your target market, they’re looking for the people who are most likely to buy your products. You’re calling them out by name.
Going with my theme here, a target market subject line might look like this: “Fad Dieters: Here’s What You’re Doing Wrong.”
You’re calling out a specific segment of your target audience, people who might be interested in buying your products. Doing so helps you speak directly to the reader as though you can read his or her mind.
Where there’s a goal or pain point, there’s always an objection.
For instance, in weight loss, a common objection is that people don’t want to feel deprived. Dieting is just as much psychological as it is physical.
So, your subject line formula with a common objection might look like this: “Tired of Feeling Deprived? Here’s How to Rebound.”
You’re stating the objection up front and implying that you have a solution. Of course, you need to deliver in the email body.
Year or Month
Using a year or a month to quantify something in your email subject lines can make them more impactful.
Consider a question like this: “Do you want to lose weight?”
The answer might be “yes,” but there’s no real heft to it.
Let’s make it better: “Do you want to lose X pounds in X months?”
Now, we’re talking. The question quantifies the variables that are just hinted at in the first question, which makes it more powerful.
Industry Authority Name
Invoking the name of Jenny Craig or Robb Wolf can make an email subject line far more powerful for weight loss leads. You instantly have a reaction, whether positive or negative.
If you see “industry authority name” as a variable in a subject line formula, you’re looking for information about someone whose name everyone knows.
Trustworthy Source of Information
The flip side of the industry authority name is the trustworthy source. This might be a publication, such as Everyday Health, or an organization like TOPS.
You might use a quote as your starting point or a data point.
As I mentioned above in the section about month and year variables, quantifying a variable can prove extremely powerful. I’ll use the same example I gave above:
“Do you want to lose X pounds in X months?”
In this example, the pounds are the quantified variable. You’re setting a benchmark against which your audience can measure their progress (or future progress).
Who doesn’t love rooting for the underdog? The unexpected winner is the top-performing entity in an experiment that goes against the expected results.
For instance, you might compare two popular diet fads in your own experiment, then release the unexpected results. Just tease the answer in the subject line to compel people to open the message.
What if I told you that you could lose weight while sitting in your favorite recliner? That’s a simple task. It’s easy to picture.
Simple task formula fields tell people they can achieve what they want without expending much effort.
51 Catchy Email Subject Lines Formulas and Examples
Now that we’ve defined some key terms, let’s get into the meat of the article. I’ve categorized each of these catchy email subject line formulas based on the type of psychology behind them.
For each formula, I’ll give you three or four examples based on the weight loss topic I used above.
Fear of Missing Out Catchy Email Subject Lines
FOMO. It’s all over Instagram, but it’s also very real. People don’t like to think they’re behind a trend or unable to capitalize on something valuable.
You can use FOMO to convince people that you have something they want. This psychological principle is perfect for catchy email subject lines.
What if (Negative Result)? Here’s What to Do
For this formula, introduce a potential negative result your reader might be experiencing, then hit the pain point by suggesting a solution in the email body.
- What if you can’t lose weight? Here’s what to do.
- What if you’re regaining weight? Here’s what to do.
- What if you’re stuck in a fad diet? Here’s what to do.
Are You Making These (Overall Topic) Mistakes?
A great way to get people to open your emails is to ask a question like this one. It inspires FOMO because everyone wants to know if they’re making mistakes that are detrimental in their progress toward achieving a goal.
- Are you making these weight loss mistakes?
- Are you making these exercise mistakes?
- Are you making these fat-hoarding mistakes?
One Day Left to Get (Overall Topic) Tips From (Industry Authority Name)
This subject line combines FOMO and urgency as well as social proof. You’re evoking a well-known name, describing a benefit, and letting your readers know they have limited time to take advantage of the opportunity.
- One Day Left to Get Weight Loss Tips From Jenny Craig
- One Day Left to Get 10% Off Jenny Craig’s New Book
- One Day Left to Get Our Secret Tips From Robb Wolf
One More Hour Until (Industry Authority Name) Quits Helping You
This is very similar to the last one. Combining urgency and social proof can be extremely effective.
- One more hour until Chris Powell quits helping you
- One more hour until Jillian Michaels quits helping you
- More more hour until Amelia Freer quits helping you
What if You Only Had (Year/ Month) To Get (Positive Result)?
Here’s an alternative based on a question. It inspires FOMO and helps readers start imagining what they would do in this specific circumstance.
- What if you only had one year to lose those last 50 pounds?
- What if you only had one month to totally overhaul your diet?
- What if you only had one year to qualify for a marathon?
Curiosity Catchy Email Subject Lines
Curiosity is always a good emotion to evoke in your audience. If you can make people curious, you can get them to open your emails.
(Target Market)! Here is How I Got (Positive Result)
This one will get your readers excited because they’ll assume (hopefully rightfully) that you have a secret they don’t.
- Fad Dieters! Here’s How I Lost 100 Pounds!
- Overeaters! Here’s How I Conquered Late-Night Hunger!
- Failed Dieters! Here’s How I Nailed My Weight-Loss Goals!
The (Overall Topic) Conspiracy Revealed
If you’re going to use this catchy email subject line, you’d better make sure you’re revealing an actual conspiracy. Otherwise, readers will feel let down.
- The Weight Loss Conspiracy Revealed
- The Fad Diet Conspiracy Revealed
The Hard Truth About (Overall Topic) or (Positive Result)
Inspire curiosity by hinting at a tough lesson your readers need to learn about a topic or about achieving a positive result.
- The Hard Truth About Losing Weight
- The Hard Truth About Counting Macros
- The Hard Truth About Calorie Deficits
In Defense of (Controversial Topic)
You can also take a positive view on a controversial topic to get people to open your emails more often.
I won’t provide an example here because it would repeat some of the formula fill-ins from before, but make sure you stand behind what you say. Don’t use a controversial topic just to get people to read your emails. They’ll feel deceived.
(Industry Authority Name) Talks About (Controversial Topic)
There’s no reason why you can’t use headline news to your advantage. Share what you know about a topic, but give your own editorial on the subject so it comes across in your voice.
- Oprah Talks About Yo-Yo Dieting
- Jenny Craig Talks About Processed Foods
- Jillian Michaels Talks About Shakeology
The (Overall Topic) Secret (Industry Authority Name) Almost Took To His Grave
We’re veering into clickbait here, but if you have something juicy to share, you might as well get your audience excited about it. Again, just make sure you can back up this catchy email subject line with thoughtful, accurate information.
- The Weight Loss Secret Jordin Sparks Almost Took to His Grave
(Industry Authority Name) Shocked By (Trustworthy Source of Information)
In some cases, authorities in an industry butt heads. This is your chance to not only share the controversy with your readers, but also to weigh in on it. Tell the story in your own words (and cite your sources). Then provide commentary of your own.
- Sophie Gray Shocked By Fitness Today Article
- Joe Cross Shocked By Slim Fast Claims
- Leslie Jones Shocked By New Weight Watchers Product
One (Overall Topic) Book to Rule Them All
Everyone’s always looking for the fastest route to information. It’s why, in marketing, we encourage brands to write long, value-rich articles. If you can give your reader everything he or she needs in one place, you become an authority, a trusted source, and a traffic magnet. You can use the same principle in your catchy email subject lines. Plus, this one throws in a little pop culture reference for good measure.
- One Weight Loss Book to Rule Them All
- One Weight Loss Supplement to Rule Them All
- One Wicked Workout to Rule Them All
Vanity Catchy Email Subject Lines
Appealing to your readers’ vanity can have awesome consequences for your email marketing campaign. People love to learn new ways to look and feel better, and if you can compliment your reader in some way, you’re ahead of the game.
(Unexpected Winner) Looks Better Because (Controversial Topic)
Here, we’re looking at an unexpected result based on controversy. We want to show the reader that people can get ahead even if they use a tactic that others might not agree with.
I don’t want to share examples on this one because I’d like to avoid offending anyone. To fill in the blanks, you need some source of data as well as evidence that the result came through because of a controversial topic.
(Industry Authority Name) Shares Secrets to (Positive Result)
This is another good one. You’re evoking a name everyone knows and sharing their secrets to a specific positive result.
- Kevin Hart Shares Secrets to Keeping Up the Motivation
- Chad Wesley Smith Shares Secrets to Boosting Your Lifting Potential
- Dan Harris Shares Secrets to Good Mental Clarity While Working Out
From (Negative Result) to (Positive Result)
This is a simple but powerful email subject line formula. It suggests that you’re going to share someone’s journey from poor results to great ones.
- From Overweight to Healthy and Happy
- From Resentfulness and Denial to a Healthy Relationship With Food
- From Skinny Fat to Lean and Mean
It Is Not Your Fault That You’re Not Reaching (Positive Result)
We like to think that we’re failing to achieve our goals because of a variable outside our control. This isn’t always the case, though. For instance, you can do everything right in terms of eating healthy and exercising, but fail to lose weight because of an endocrine imbalance.
Are You Informed Enough to Completely Understand (Overall Topic)?
For this formula, we’re questioning the reader’s education on a specific topic. Many people consider themselves experts after hours and hours of research, but maybe we can share something that will surprise the reader.
- Are you informed enough to completely understand macros?
- Are you educated enough to completely understand calorie counting?
- Are you really in-the-know about calorie deficits?
You Can’t Handle the (Positive Result) Truth
Here’s another fun pop culture reference tied up in a curiosity-evoking subject line.
- You Can’t Handle the Truth About Losing Weight
- You Can’t Handle the Truth About Building Muscle
- You Can’t Handle the Truth About Fitting Into Your Pre-Mom Jeans
Can You Forgive Your (Overall Topic) Enemies?
There are at least two sides to every topic. No matter your industry or niche, there will be people who disagree with you about how to best achieve specific goals or resolve certain problems. Explore this in an email with a curiosity- and empathy-provoking subject line.
How Is (Unexpected Winner) Getting (Positive Result) When You’re Not?
Again, I’m not going to include an example here to avoid offending anyone, but this is a catchy email subject line you can use to inspire your readers. If they see an unlikely candidate getting results, you can reverse engineer the success for your audience.
You Wouldn’t Know (Overall Topic) If it Hit You in the Face
We’re walking a fine line here. You don’t want to directly insult your readers, but you do want to give them a reason to open your email. It’s all about balance. Use a headline like this to grab your readers’ attention, then open the email body with empathetic and reassuring copy to balance out the harsh subject line.
Greed Catchy Email Subject Lines
Everyone experiences greed from time to time. When you see success — no matter the form — you want it. And if you’re given an opportunity to get something you want, you might take it even if it isn’t the most honorable way to go about it. These subject lines prey on inherent greed.
How to Finally (Positive Result)
This is a simple one. It’s a great subject line if you want to introduce a long-form article or video that provides in-depth information.
- How to finally break through your weight-loss wall
- How to finally destroy midnight cravings
- How to finally get over your fear of the gym
The Hidden Secret to (Positive Result)
We love secrets, right? If you can illuminate a hidden fact for your readers, they’ll be eternally grateful, especially if it involves a shortcut to their goals.
- The hidden secret to shedding pounds without working out
- The hidden secret to getting lean without dieting
- The hidden secret to maintaining your weight loss
Show Me the (Positive Result)!
Again, if you can work in a pop culture reference, you’re good to go. But this takes it to another level by hitting on your readers’ greed.
- Show Me the Path to Weight-Loss Success!
- Show Me the Way to Beat Fatigue!
- Show Me the Secrets to a Low BMI!
So Happy to Have (Positive Result)
This catchy subject line is one of my favorites. It gives you an opportunity to express gratitude for something that’s going well in your life, but to also evoke greed in your readers who want the same thing.
- So happy to have a healthy body!
- So happy to have stronger muscles!
- So happy to have more energy!
(Positive Results) Are Waiting For You
This subject line hints that good things are just around the corner. You’ll need to provide a seriously value-rich tip in the email body to make this subject line work.
- A healthier body is waiting for you
- Better gym performance is waiting for you
- Stronger muscles are waiting for you
Pain Points Catchy Email Subject Lines
Now we get to pain points. That always sounds a little sleazy, but pain points are universal. Everyone has them. If you don’t know how to fix your overflowing toilet, for instance, your pain point is a plumbing issue you can’t resolve on your own.
How (Unexpected Hero) Avoided (Negative Result) Using One Trick
In this subject line, you highlight someone who has become an unexpected hero in your industry or niche. Share how he or she avoided a negative result or mistake using a particular strategy.
The Most Common (Overall Topic) Mistakes (Target Market) Make!
Here’s an oldie but a goodie. It’s great for headlines, too. For this one, narrow down your target market as far as possible.
- The Most Common Weight-Loss Mistakes Moms Make
- The Most Common Dieting Mistakes Teenagers Make
- The Most Common Workout Mistakes Runners Make
(Industry Authority Name) Talks About (Negative Results) for (Target Market)
This one might look a little confusing, so let’s break it down.
Start with negative results for a specific target market. For instance, postpartum moms might struggle to lose the baby weight. Now, you just need to find an industry authority whose quotes you can use to help that target audience avoid those negative results.
(Number) Psychotic Reasons Why Your Are Getting (Negative Result)
In this case, we’re calling out common mistakes or foibles that people make for silly reasons. Often, it’s just the wake-up call an audience needs to make big changes.
- 11 Psychotic Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
- 27 Psychotic Reasons You’re Losing Muscle Instead of Fat
- 3 Psychotic Reasons You’re Delaying Your Diet
No More (Negative Result)! It Ends Today!
This is a fun one. It’s motivating and uplifting without getting too cutesy. You can throw in a little tough love, too.
- No More Gym Excuses! It Ends Today!
- No More Cheat Days! It Ends Today!
- No More Weight Loss Walls! It Ends Today!
Sloth Catchy Email Subject Lines
We don’t like to think we’re lazy, but we often are. Think about it. If you could solve a problem or reach a goal faster, would you take the opportunity? Of course. We like shortcuts and other tricks that help us free up more time and exert less energy.
The Art of (Overall Topic) in (Number) Easy Steps
You can use this catchy email subject line to help guide your audience through a process using just a few simple steps. Keep the number as low as possible while still being realistic.
- The Art of Losing 5 Pounds in 3 Easy Steps
- The Art of Working Out in 5 Easy Steps
- The Art of Beating Gym Blues in 4 Easy Steps
Cool (Overall Topic) Tricks to Get (Positive Result)
Adding adjectives to your subject lines can make them even catchier. In this case, you can supplement “cool” with any adjective you like.
- Cool Weight-Loss Tricks to Lose Belly Fat
- Exciting Weight-Loss Trick to Get More Motivation
- Fantastic Weight-Loss Trick to Spend Less Time at the Gym
Easy Tricks From (Industry Authority Name) to (Positive Result)
This is another catchy email subject line that uses a well-known person to illustrate how readers might achieve a specific positive result.
(Positive Result) From (Simple Task)
You can also boil it down even more simply without the industry authority name.
- Lose 5 Pounds From Drinking More Water
- Hasten Your Weight-Loss Efforts By Getting More Sleep
- Snag a Healthy Body From Taking 2 Simple Supplements
1 (Simple Task) Made (Unexpected Winner) Rich!
We all want to be rich, right? People in the weight-loss industry often find themselves famous and rich because of their amazing success. Even if your readers don’t desire a public life (or riches), you can use this catchy email subject line to get people interested.
Tired of Waiting for (Positive result)?
Some of the best subject lines hit paint points related to delayed results. We don’t like to wait. We want immediate satisfaction.
- Tired of waiting for the body you crave?
- Tired of waiting for your workouts to produce results?
- Tired of waiting for your dietary changes to reflect in the scale?
Funny and Weird Catchy Email Subject Lines
You can’t go wrong with funny or weird. These catchy email subject lines demand attention because they’re off-the-wall or generate a laugh from the reader.
(Unexpected Winner) Prophecy
For this subject line, take a quote from someone who has beaten all odds and turn it into a prophecy. It’s pretty easy to do by taking assertive statements and putting a prophetical spin on them.
Crazy (Unexpected Winner) Finds What It Takes for (Positive Result)
Be careful with this one because you don’t want to encourage dangerous or potentially hazardous behavior. For instance, a person can probably lose a ton of weight in a month by fasting for 30 days, but you wouldn’t recommend it. However, if you can find a way to spin this one with a positive message, go for it!
I Like Easy (Positive Result) And I Cannot Lie
Here’s a fill-in-the-blank formula that works on many levels. Use it sparingly and make sure you have an awesome email to back it up.
- I Like Easy Weight Loss And I Cannot Lie
- I Like Easy Workouts And I Cannot Lie
- I Like Easy Calorie Counting And I Cannot Lie
(Trustworthy Source of Information) Shocked By (Unexpected Winner) (Positive result)
To make sure I don’t offend anyone, I’m going to give you examples of this catch email subject line formula using fake names. You can see how it works, though, when you put the elements together.
- Fit Female Shocked by Jane Doe’s Rapid Weight Loss
- John Doe Shocked By Jane Doe’s Healthy Physique
May The (Overall Topic) Force Be with You
This one works just like the “Baby Got Back” reference above. Even if you’re not a “Star Wars” fan, you recognize the reference.
(Overall Topic) Secrets of (Unexpected Winner)
Here, find someone in your industry who met goals despite the odds and share some of his or her best secrets.
- Weight-Loss Secrets of Jane Doe
- Workout Secrets of John Doe
- Dieting Secrets From John and Jane Doe
Top Secrets of a (Unexpected Winner)
This one is just like the last, but put into different verbiage. Play with the “Top Secrets” starter to get more mileage from it. For instance, you could share “best tips” or “surprising discoveries” instead of “top secrets.”
The Beauty and the (Unexpected Hero)
Again, go with the pop culture reference if you can. It creates a resonance with the reader because you share this understanding of phraseology.
(Overall Topic) Reloaded
You can figure this one out pretty easily, but make sure you use it wisely. In other words, it works best when you can actually share tips, advice, strategies, or a product that will revolutionize how your audience approaches a problem or goal.
The House of (Overall Topic)
The same goes for this one. Use it when you can share amazing news, a great discovery, or an enlightening realization your audience will want to hear.
(Negative Result) Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
You can have lots of fun with this one.
- Absence of Cheesecake Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
- Time Away From the Fridge Makes the Heart Go Fonder
Let’s Keep This (Overall Topic) Tip Only Between You And Me
If you can establish a sense of bonding with your reader, you’ll find yourself in an excellent position to increase conversions later. Obviously, your readers know you’re sending this to more than one person, but that doesn’t deplete the intimacy of the subject line.
(Overall Topic) Tips As Fine As Frog’s Hair
Goofy similes are always fun. Use this catchy email subject line to make your readers laugh, even if you’re writing about a bland topic.
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Once you’re collecting email addresses left and right, use the catchy email subject lines above to make sure your subscribers stay engaged.
Many brands completely flub their email subject lines. Don’t be that brand.
If you want people to open your emails, you need to give them a reason. Inspire curiosity, evoke greed, or make them laugh.
You can use these formulas over and over again in different forms. They’re extremely flexible, so play with them until they sound just right for your brand.
What’s the best email subject line you’ve ever seen?