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101 Killing Email Headlines Examples in 2024

Written and researched by experts at AvadaLearn more about our methodology

By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

Drive 20-40% of your revenue with Avada
avada email marketing

We’d venture to guess you get tons of emails in your inbox every day. But how many exactly unread emails do you have in your inbox? 400? 900? Or perhaps, if you’re like me and are on countless mailing lists, 1818?

Well, although we get a ton of daily emails (about 281 billion are sent every day!), most of them are never opened. So, as a thoughtful marketer or business owner, you might find it terrible, especially when the chance of your email being ignored is pretty high!

But wait, do you think your email headline is impressive enough? Your subject line is your first (and maybe your last) impression on readers. In many ways, your email headline is even more important than your email body. After all, great newsletters will be worthless if they never see the light of day!

There is a wide range of different schools of thought when it comes to creating slam dunk headlines. We’ll be covering 101 killing email headlines that will boost your email open rates, as we believe more opens means more online sales.

Because this is a long guide, we have broken it down into sections. Feel free to use the following table of contents to jump to a particular section.

What is an email headline?

First and foremost, an email headline is the very first piece of information that a recipient sees after the sender name when they open their inbox. While this single line of text may seem insignificant at first glance, it’s an essential element of email anatomy that can make or break your campaign’s overall success.

What is an email headline?
What is an email headline?

Every email headline needs to contain the topic of the email, and be written in such a manner that readers are compelled to open it up. If they don’t feel enticed to do so, your email won’t be opened, read, and may end up going straight in the trash folder.

Read more:

Why do email headlines matter a lot?

Email overload is a reality in nowadays’ fast-paced business environments. From prospects to media contacts, nearly everybody’s inbox is bombarded with an abundance of email communications, all of which are competing for the recipient’s time and attention.

But do you know that 47%of recipients open an email based on the headline alone? Just like a book title or an article heading, email recipients will discard your text right away if it is not informative enough or looks spammy. That said, an email headline must convey the necessary information in a succinct way. You certainly don’t want your email to be among the 69%of emails that are reported as spams because of the headline alone.

Effective email headlines matter a lot
Effective email headlines matter a lot

To filter out unnecessary or worthless messages, most of us spend just a fraction of a second evaluating email headline. If the headline doesn’t immediately grab their attention, they move on to the next message in their inboxes. An unopened email means they can’t see the links to all the new products you’ve launched, or the blog post you’ve posted. When they don’t do that, your campaign is a goner.

In short, a compelling email headline convinces readers to open your email. It makes them excited about what they are going to learn or become, once they look through it - and it uses language that compels them to click through.

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101 killing email headlines

Curiosity headlines

Curiosity doesn’t just kill the cat and compel Pandora to ruin life for the rest of us (thanks, Pandora). It is also a valuable marketing tool - one that often motivates us to take action.

Curiosity is a valuable tool for your email headlines
Curiosity is a valuable tool for your email headlines

If you haven’t been persuaded yet, think about these following sentences:

“Ben was dead, to begin with…”

“It was a bright cold day in December, and the clocks were striking thirteen…”

“There is no possibility of taking a walk today…”

So, what do the above share in common?

The answer is they all open information gaps.

When your readers experience a gap between what they know and what they want to know, their curiosity raises its voice and drives their need to acquire new knowledge to bridge that gap.

You can leverage this by leaving your email headline open-ended to make subscribers curious, like a cliffhanger that can only be satisfied by opening the email. It can be a question, interesting promise, or simply something that sounds unusual or strange.

Here are some of the highest converting curiosity email headlines.

  1. Don’t Open This Email (Manicube)
  2. “Is this you?” (Digital Marketer)
  3. “Is this the hottest career in marketing?” (Digital Marketer)
  4. “What They Eat In Prison” (Thrillist)
  5. “Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About” (GrubHub)
  6. “Hologram Shorts?!” (Chubbies)
  7. “A faster donkey” (The Hustle)
  8. “? a surprise gift for you! {unwrap}” (Mary Fernandez)

Exclusivity headlines

Exclusive psychology is a powerful thing. By making your email recipients feel like they’re a part of an insider’s circle that is exclusive to them, they’ll be more receptive to what you say. It would eventually build loyalty and compel them to convert better on your emails.

Exclusivity is a powerful thing for your email headline ideas
Exclusivity is a powerful thing for your email headline ideas

Remind them, like some email headlines below do:

  1. “Psst - it’s our Private Shopping Event & you’re invited” (Macy’s)
  2. “Members can rent a car for less today only!” (Hotwire Exclusive)
  3. “These Insider Prices are for members only!” (Orbitz)
  4. “Exclusive Offer: Play for FREE each week in August” (DraftKings)

Besides, you can make use of these phrasing ideas to make your readers feel special:

  • For our beloved customers only
  • Here’s your private invite, (recipient’s name)!
  • Discount only for you
  • Insider’s look
  • Exclusive gift
  • Get our free gift for you
  • Get your exclusive access today!

No matter how big or small your email list is, you can leverage exclusivity to boost your emails’ open rates. Just make sure all your headlines actually live up to the “exclusive” promise after people open your email.

Reason Why headlines

You might think it doesn’t work anymore, but a “Reason Why” headline is still an “old but gold” tactic when it comes to your email marketing campaigns. This classic type is listed as one of the best performing email headlines by many companies.

A Reason Why email headline is an “old but gold” tactic
A Reason Why email headline is an “old but gold” tactic

This headline focuses on outlining the reasoning behind asking your audience to do something. It works best for emails that promote anything that lists benefits, features, or steps a person needs to take to achieve a certain benefit.

Some “Reason Why” email headlines may include:

  1. “4 Reasons Why Layered Navigation is a Must-Have Extension in Magento Stores” (Mageplaza)
  2. “Why Need Magento 2 SEO Extension? Top 5 Reasons” (Mageplaza)
  3. Caffeine addict? 5 reasons why tea is the new coffee
  4. Essential Oils… Learn the reasons why they are great in winter!

Pain Points headlines

As a marketer, one of your main tasks is to understand your customers and know their pain points. Also, you should constantly be on the lookout for more pain points, and ways to help them out with your solutions.

In this type of headlines, we often use those pain points to bring out the reader’s pain and then provide a solution within the headline. Keep in mind that the pain point you are addressing must be a major one for your customer.

Identify customer’s pain points and provide a solution in your email headline
Identify customer’s pain points and provide a solution in your email headline

Below are some email headlines incorporating the pain points:

  1. “Feed your guests without breaking the bank” (Pizza Hut)
  2. “Your beauty issues, solved” (Sephora)
  3. “How to Survive Your Next Overnight Flight” (Thrillist)
  4. “Learn a language with only 5 minutes per day” (Duolingo)
  5. “Your summer outfit dilemmas SOLVED” (J.Crew)
  6. “Your all-weather dining solution” (Terrain)
  7. “Stop wasting time on mindless work” (Evernote)
  8. “No address? No problem. Now Domino’s can deliver to over 150,000 Domino’s Hotspots.” (Domino’s Pizza)

Typically, if you are giving a solution to a pain point within the email, you can use the following formula: How To + Achieve the desired result.

For example: How to make room in your closet.

Remember that you can’t know your customers’ pain points until you understand them. Spend time on your buyer personas, then you can identify the pain points that really motivate your customers.

Question headlines

We’re usually compelled to answer questions

Whenever we see a sentence with a question mark at the end, our brains automatically go to find an answer or at least thinking of what’s being asked.

Hence, you can use this psychological trigger to your advantage in your email headlines.

Questions are not just a great way to get your readers thinking about something specific; they also feel incomplete on their own. This means that your recipients are likely to feel inspired to open your email in an attempt to find the answer.

An example of Question email headlines
An example of Question email headlines

There is another reason headlines with questions perform well. Before you pose a question, your recipients might not have thought about it at all - but guess what? Now, they’re thinking about it!

Some of killing question headlines may include:

  1. “Where do all these toys go?” (IKEA)
  2. “Seriously, who DOES this?” (Ryan Levesque)
  3. “Want to quit your job and get paid to write?” (Mindy McHorse, AWAI)
  4. “Can you snack your way to better sleep?” (Pocket)
  5. “Ready for some festival fun?” (Sky)
  6. “Do you play enough?” (Psychologies)
  7. “What backlinks are you getting?” (BuzzSumo)

Some other phrases can get you going, such as:

  • Want a better way to…?
  • Who else wants…?
  • Do you have/ think/ want/ know…?

Funny headlines

In a large crowd, a genuinely humorous person automatically captures our attention. The similar thing applies to our crowded inboxes. If you are making your prospects and customers giggle when reading your email headlines, you will stay top of mind.

Look at the following example of Brooklinen, a place where you can buy beautiful and ridiculously comfortable sheets that don’t cost an arm and a leg. The brand is unique as they are using humor to their advantage.

And you might think bedsheets were boring…
And you might think bedsheets were boring…

With provocative wordplay-based headlines like “holy sheet” and “zero bull sheet,” Broolinen manages to strike a delicate balance between offending prospective customers and humoring brand advocates.

However, be warned: humor is not for every brand; it should be a fine line. If your audience is not accustomed to clever jokes, wordplay, or senses of humor, it might backfire. By all means, try it, but tread carefully.

Here are some funny email headlines to make your subscribers laugh and open your emails right away:

  1. “NEW! Vacation on Mars” (Gozengo)
  2. “SAAALE! Extra 40%! Sorry for yelling!” (Bonobos)
  3. “Look what you did, you little jerk…” (The Hustle) (This one is a reference to the movie “Home Alone.”)
  4. “Nope, still NOT going out of business. Enjoy 2 for $45!” (Crocs)
  5. “Witches be crazy, and so is this box!” (Beauty Box)
  6. “Come to Fenway May 2 - we won’t tell your boss!” (Red Sox Ticketing)
  7. “[True or False]: Your beard loves to lift, bro.” (Beardbrand)

Social Proof headlines

Perhaps you’re no stranger to the fact that social proof is a powerful booster for engagement and sales. People tend to do what others are doing. Perhaps we used to have thoughts like “If other people are doing it, it must be really good,” at least once.

If you are able to sprinkle an ounce of social proof into your email headline, it will increase the chance that someone opens it. Numbers and case studies are an excellent way to use this tactic, such as how Product Habits does below:

Social Proof email headline from Product Habits
Social Proof email headline from Product Habits

Let’s take a look at some amazing social proof email headlines that you can learn from:

  1. “Top reviewed styles from customers like you” (Patagonia)
  2. “Make it good night with John Legend and Airbnb” (Airbnb)
  3. “Simple recipes from popular chefs” (Yummly)
  4. “18 Habits Highly Successful People Have (And the Rest of Us Probably Don’t)” (Inc)
  5. “See what our clients are saying…” (Instant Boss Club)
  6. “This guy makes 6 figures per month?” (Digital Marketer)
  7. “Moms are loving these fave maternity looks.” (Target)

Personalized headlines

As we mentioned earlier, personalized email headlines perform much better than non-personalized ones. In reality, an email headline that is personalized by including a name boost open rates by 10-14% across industries.

But containing your subscriber’s name is not the only way to make your email headlines more personalized. You can also dig deeper into their interests, birthdays/ anniversaries, transaction history, or location. In addition, you can also use casual language or share something personal and relatable with your audience.

Personalized headlines
Personalized headlines

Below are some of personalized email headlines that get attention:

  1. “[Name], do you remember me?” (Bonnie Fahy)
  2. “Happy birthday, [Name] - Surprise Inside!” (Rent the Runway)
  3. “[Name], thanks for being a loyal member!” (LinkedIn Learning)
  4. “You free this Thurs at 12PM PST?” (Mary Fernandez)
  5. “I didn’t see your name in the comments!?” (Kimra Luna)

However, in case you can’t (or don’t want to) use personalization tokens in the headline, use “you” or “your” to make it sound like you’re addressing them directly.

You may concern: Install AVADA Email Marketing to have personanized email templates that ready-to-use!

Fear of Missing out headlines

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a very powerful mental trigger, and if used smartly, it can enhance your next campaign’s email opens by a huge margin.

We often have a deep and inherent terror of being left behind, or missing out - that flock mentality used to be a survival instinct, but now it is just another headline strategy to goad us into a purchase. Throw in some words that imply time sensitivity, such as “urgent,” “important,” “breaking,” “expires” and you may be surprised how your click rates will change.

Fear of Missing out email headline
Fear of Missing out email headline

Below are some great sample headlines for emails that use the fear of missing out:

  1. “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring” (Warby Parker)
  2. “[URGENT] You have got ONE DAY to watch this…” (Digital Marketer)
  3. “Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream” (Guess)
  4. “Grab a ride pass before they’re gone” (Uber)
  5. “Your discounts EXPIRE SOON.” (Poshmark)
  6. “In case you missed these…” (Shoes of Prey)
  7. “[Recipient Name], your home is missing these easy upgrades.” (Verizon Wireless)
  8. “Your 7-figure plan goes bye-bye at midnight…” (Digital Marketer)
  9. “[LAST CHANCE] 85% off sale ends today!” (Digital Marketer)

Just ensure that the headline is used for a real scarcity (not one that resists every time). Besides, remember that overusing the FOMO can decrease its value and consequent in people not taking your emails seriously.

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The bottom line

That’s all for 101 killing email headlines! Keep this course handy so that you can easily find a great headline for your next email. All great marketers keep an extensive “swipe file” to inspire them and help break a logjam of so-called “winter’s blocks.” You should, too.

Every time you read an email, news, or advertising headline, or magazine cover that strikes a responsive chord, you should copy it into an ever-growing document entitled, “Headlines I hope to use someday.”

We hope this gets your headline creative juices flowing. However, bear in mind that it’s necessary to have your own style and personality when creating an email headline. You won’t want your emails to look like every other common email. So, try thinking out of the box and get creative from time to time.

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Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.