Digital Marketer’s List of 8 Top Types of Email Subject Lines

Proven to increase open rates

The Top 8 Types of Email Subject Lines (According to Digital Marketer)

If you aren’t familiar yet with Digital Marketer, they are a super awesome company offering many types of marketing courses and certifications for both the business owner and marketer, from freelancer to agency.  In addition to their paid material, they also offer a ton of free resources.  I highly recommend you check them out!

What they also have is a mega-huge email list.  So, every year they publish their top types of email subject lines, AND you can also grab the actual subject lines they used throughout the year.  Pretty generous!!

FULL DISCLOSURE:  The email types listed below are 100% generated by Digital Marketer.  I’m only re-reporting them here with a customized description and generic example.  The research credit goes entirely to DM.

Self Interest

It’s highly likely a good chunk of your emails will fall into the self interest category.  This is where you simply call out a specific benefit your reader is going to get by opening the email.

Example:  Read this if you want to improve [X]!


This is where you pique your reader’s interest without giving them too much information up front.

Example:  We’ve got something special coming up.


Come on, who doesn’t like a good deal?

Example: Our biggest promotion of the year!

TIP:  Try to avoid using words like free or sale, as these can trigger your email to land in the promotions folder.


Urgency is a proven technique that increases sales, but it must be used sparingly, otherwise your clients will become numb to the effect if they keep seeing it over and over.  The two best urgency techniques are limited time and limited quantity.

Example:  Hurry, only [X] more left!

TIP:  For urgency to work (and for your clients to keep their trust), your limits must actually be real.  So, no “sale ends on Thursday” when you allow the promotional price to be honored through Saturday.


These emails are all about uncovering the real people behind the scenes. Instead of focusing on the company or product, tell the story of the people who make it happen.

Example: Our production team rocks! Want to know what they just did for you?


Keep your readers up to date with the latest and greatest news from your company. This lets your readers know that you aren’t stagnant. Even if you don’t have something ready for release, let your readers know what you are working to make their lives better!

Example:  We’re excited to announce [X]!

Social Proof

Be sure to leverage other people’s experience with your products. Provide case studies of success, real testimonials, or the numbers of people who have already bought your product. Remember, nothing creates a crowd, quite like a crowd!

Example: Brian’s open rate went from zero to hero. Want to hear how he did it?


Everyone loves a good story. Be sure to highlight a specific benefit to get your point across. Keep the story engaging. Humor is always good!

Example: So, I said to the elf…

A Few Tips for Optimizing Your Email Subject Lines

Remember, you have to grab their attention or they won’t open your email!  But there definitely are some recommended best practices to follow.

Email Subject Lines Best Practices

  • Truly provide valuable content
  • Provide a variety of content (don’t just send promotion emails)
  • Email with some regular frequency (don’t go dark for 6 months and then expect your emails to get opened)
  • Don’t trick people with clever subject lines that have nothing to do with the actual content of the email
  • Use the preview text option (if available) to custom craft a snippet of the email
  • Avoid words like sale and free that will likely land you in the promotions tab


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Jessica Dohm

Jessica Dohm

Founder, Dohmain Designs

About the Author

Jessica is the Director of Digital Marketing and Owner of Dohmain Designs. She is a small business sales and marketing expert specializing in business growth through intelligent website design and sales & marketing automation.

Jessica is a Certified Infusionsoft Partner, marketing automation and CRM expert with 20 years of professional sales and marketing experience. In 2011, she combined that experience with innovative website design and created Dohmain Designs. She has worked with biotech giants, overseen the digital marketing for a popular Discovery Channel hit TV series, worked with internationally known influencers, and helped hundreds of clients grow their business. Prior to creating Dohmain Designs, Jessica worked in the fast-paced biotech sector focusing primarily on technical sales and marketing, as well as providing complicated sales-focused CRM training across various disciplines.

Jessica is a member of her local Rotary Club where she has previously served as the Membership and Public Relations chairs and currently serves as the 2020-2021 President-elect. Jessica truly believes in the "Service Above Self" Rotarian philosophy and strives to dedicate her time and talents to helping others, both in her personal and professional relationships.

She is located in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area and works with clients all across North America. If you'd like to get in touch with Jessica, simply complete the contact form below.

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