10min read

52 Email Subject Lines That Work From Fashion and Beauty Brands

You’ve all heard the saying before: You should never judge a book by its cover. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, whether you like it or not, that’s exactly how people tend to determine an email’s worth by its subject line. 

To give you some perspective, 35% of email recipients open emails based on subject lines alone according to HubSpot, and 21% of subscribers mark boring ones as spam, even if they know they aren’t. 

In other words, customers are tough to impress. 

If you really want to get noticed and prove you are deserving of their time and attention, supercharge your email subject lines with emotion. Because in the end, no matter how much we rationalize, our buying decisions spring from our emotions

Read more: Creating Emotional Connections with Customers Using Data

Think of what a customer fears, dreams of, desires and wants in a product or solution. Use that as a premise of your subject lines to trigger an emotional response

Some fashion and beauty brands have already been doing consistently well in this area. It’s time you learn the ropes from them.

Fair warning: It’s not a good idea to rely on emotions alone. The purpose of retail brands, like yours, is to sell. So hit a variety of customer touchpoints, including sending personalized emails, because they are 26% more likely to be opened than those without. Even better, they deliver 6X higher transaction rates.

Anyway, let’s dive in…

Email subject lines that induce FOMO

What does FOMO mean? Fear of missing out.

No one likes missing out on time-sensitive deals, including you. Just think of the last time you jumped on an offer because you didn’t want to regret losing out on a good bargain. 

In another case, imagine a time when you felt some stress for not having bought something when there was still time, stock, and a good deal. 

The same emotional reaction happens to your customers. Whether it’s creating a top-notch holiday campaign, announcing a limited time or a limited stock sale, pick the right set of words like ‘last chance, ‘don’t miss…’, to create urgency. Seeing such offers immediately activates this fear of missing out and drives them to act right away. 

It’s exactly why this email from The North Face displays. The simple nudge is enough to get their recipient to grab this one– the last chance to save some money.

The North Face - using FOMO in email subject line

Examples of FOMO-provoking email subject lines:

Limited time offer:

  • Dropps: Get 15% off, but move quick.
  • UNIQLO: TICK TOCK! Free shipping ends tonight
  • Mango: LAST FEW HOURS to enjoy 30% off the entire collection!

Show it’s in demand: 

  • Nykaa: These will sell out in 3…2..⏳
  • Sorel: These stunners are selling out fast
  • Olay: Get it before it’s gone!🎁
  • Marc Jacobs: New to sale and going fast

Imply negative outcomes: 

  • Nykaa: You snooze, you lose.
  • Revolve: Say goodbye to 65% off 👋
  • UNIQLO: Get it before it’s gone
  • Nike: Good stuff in your cart…checking out > missing out

More ideas:

  • You’ve still got time
  • Offer expires tonight
  • The stock’s running out
  • UH-oh. Your fav styles are (almost) gone
  • ATTN: This pack will DEFINITELY sell out
  • Saying goodbye is the toughest
  • Our top 10 at 10% off for the next 24 hours
  • LAST chance to save up to $55
  • <New product> is selling like hot cakes
  • You’ve ONE day left: FREE shipping +20% off
  • Tonight only: Your wish list items on sale
  • LIMITED-time offer on items on your wishlist

Email subject lines that drive curiosity

Can you guess what makes crime drama series binge-worthy? Why we click intriguing Upworthy and BuzzFeed posts? Or why we can’t stop reading novels? Blame our inherent need to close the loop between what we know and what we want to know. Otherwise known as – our curiosity!

This is also exactly why when people receive emails with partial information in the subject lines, they feel the urgent need to click ‘open.’ 

A perfect example is this email from Nykaa. This cliffhanger technique adds a touch of drama and mystery that is enough to tempt people to see what’s on the other side.

Nykaa - using curiosity in email subject line

Examples of using curiosity in subject lines: 

  • Huckberry: “Want” — everyone
  • Michael Kors: Give us an inch…
  • J.Crew: The shorts circuit
  • TwoThirds: Meet our unique pieces!
  • Revolve Tomorrow’s outfit forecast
  • Kate Spade: You’re getting sleepy…
  • Steve Madden: TORNADO warning
  • Anthropologie: Let us per-SUEDE you.
  • Birchbox: We’ve got some ideas for you.
  • Sephora: Because you need these.
  • Estée Lauder Online: Why’s everyone obsessed with retinol?
  • Jimmy Choo: Dreams are made up of these + complimentary global shipping

More ideas:

  • Not even in your wildest dreams would…
  • Got a sec? Open this email right away, or…
  • FIRST time ever on sale
  • New launches inside
  • Is THIS what you’ve been waiting for?
  • You DESERVE this
  • Don’t buy from us…
  • Before you regret not buying your favs
  • Saying goodbye is the toughest
  • Did we tell you that…
  • This is personal…

How to personalize and test subject lines to maximize your open rate

By crafting a personalized email with your customer’s name or a point of interest in the subject line, you’re ensuring a connection with your customer.

According to Forbes, 72% of customers ONLY interact with personalized messaging.

Personalization is an important way to build trust with your customer and maintain your relationship with them before, during, and after their purchases. If you’re not using personalization in your email campaigns, you’re likely missing out on a huge opportunity. 

Whether you’re looking to personalize your email content to capture customer attention or A/B test your subject lines to determine the best-performing phrase, choosing the right software will help you transform your ideas into reality.

AB Tasty is the complete experience optimization platform to help you create a richer digital experience for your customers — fast. From recommendations to smart search, this solution can help you achieve personalization with ease, experiment with a low-code implementation and revolutionize your brand and product experiences.

AB Tasty Demo Banner

Email subject lines that spark happiness

Since you already occupy a sacred space in your customers’ inboxes, why not become a reason for their happiness?

A lot of things make people happy. So right from using humor, wordplay, solving people’s problems, appealing to their vanity, surprising them with freebies and special offers to reminding them there’s good in them. For example, if you can relate their shopping efforts to contributing to a social cause, that’s one idea of reminding them there’s good inside.  There are plenty of ideas that you can use to really catch their eyes and make them feel unique.

This email from Fortress of Inca, for example, plays the vanity card. Honest confession: I was at the receiving end and I had to open the email because my fabulous choice in shoes was being appreciated!

Fortress of Inca_ triggering happiness through email subject line

Examples of subject lines focusing on happiness:

  • Pura Vida: Save the Amazon Rainforest!
  • Michael Kors: FOOD IS LOVE: Help Us Watch Hunger Stop
  • Sephora: Your beauty issues solved
  • Nicole Miller: Button me up, Button me down.
  • Alice & Olivia: Hot date? We’ve got you.
  • J.Crew: We don’t do this (MAJOR) sale too often…
  • JustFab: Your FREE money is waiting. We put $30 in your account.
  • Pura Vida: Happy birthday to us (gifts for you!)
  • DSW: Find out how you can make a difference.
  • Patagonia: School lunch made easy
  • The North Face: 5 jackets that will have everyone saying…where’d you get them from!

More ideas: 

  • Our birthday treat = gifts for you!
  • Giving > Getting
  • It’s true…these will look dapper on you
  • What to wear for the New Year’s bash
  • Style secrets you can master in under 10 minutes
  • Your winter break packing list is HERE!
  • You’re one click away from shopping complete spring look
  • Impressed by items in your card: Buy ‘em before they’re gone
  • You earned what’s INSIDE this email

Email subject lines that create excitement

So far we’ve already established that humans are emotional creatures. Let’s now use excitement to get your sales meter ticking, because chances are that it results in impulse shopping.

Selling to customers is much easier when they’re excited and in touch with their emotions. In a state of excitement, your level of enthusiasm brings you to think and behave differently.

There are a number of ways to get the excitement level up. You can start by highlighting the exclusiveness of your offer, adding social proof (drop names and numbers), capitalizing action verbs to motivate action completion and even using emojis and exclamation marks.

In the email subject line below, team Pura Vida does two things — attract attention and excite the subscriber with the clever use of an emoji, the word ‘holy smokes,’ and a few ‘!

Pura Vida - triggering excitement in email subject line

Examples of Building Excitement in Subject Lines:

  • J.Crew: What Adam Scott thinks of our suits
  • Anthropologie: Just for you: the inside scoop
  • Pura Vida: Special offer (but only for our BFFs)
  • Olay: Over 50 million sold ❤️
  • Sorel: Meet our exclusive Frozen 2 boots✨
  • DSW: Reviewers have spoken: “BEST BOOTIE EVER!”
  • Steve Madden: Take our shoe stylists’ word for it
  • Meundies: Well, this is exciting!
  • Adidas: You’re in. Welcome to Adidas
  • Revolve: This collab was made for you
  • theBalm Cosmetics: Welcome to #THEBALMERS community!
  • Victoria’s Secret: 60% off bras & apparels, in stores only! GO, GO, GO!

More ideas: 

  • Beyonce-approved autumn wear you can’t say no to
  • Sweet launch discount (for members only!)
  • Howdie! Your faves are back in stock
  • Sshh…you’re the FIRST ONE to be seeing this
  • It’s between you and us ONLY
  • For your eyes only, because you wanted it
  • Baby, it’s baccccck!
  • It’s your birthday! Get 30% off, a FREE gift and free shipping.

Ready to Craft Email Subject Lines That Deliver?

Full disclaimer: It takes a lot of A/B testing and patience to come up with subject lines that stay within the 40-50 characters limit and stir the right emotions. Thankfully,  now you’re aware of which emotions to go after and how to invoke emotional decision-making.

So it’s time to get to work! But before you go, and for maximum impact, keep these equally important things in mind:

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9min read

Opt-In vs. Opt-Out: A Guide to Email Marketing

Opt-in email marketing is the process of gaining contact information from a ‘sign up’ or ‘register’ call-to-action on a website, which will be subsequently used to send newsletters or for general advertising.

Whilst they may not have directly agreed to hear from the company, they have registered interest and willingly given contact information.

Opt-in vs Opt-out; the guide to email marketing

Opt-out email marketing is when contact details are automatically added to a marketing list that a subscriber may be unaware of until they receive communications. Whilst this can be a bit of a nuisance for the person receiving the email, it can be another great way of gaining quality leads.

Despite a growing rumbling that email marketing is in decline, between 2014 and 2018, it was estimated that the average office worker in the US sent around 90 emails, with 40 emails being about business in particular. This strongly indicates that reaching people by electronic mail is still by far the preferred method for most people around the world.

The new approach of using opt-in call-to-actions on websites to obtain email addresses has become an increasingly successful way to gather high-quality contact lists to target with marketing campaigns. With open rates for marketing emails remaining around 85% and click-through rates at around 25% for most industries, email marketing is far from dwindling as a successful marketing tool.

When utilized properly, both opt-in and opt-out emails are a great use of your marketing budget and time, with significant click-through rates and growth in new subscribers credited to opt-in techniques.

We explore the difference between executing these tactics and offer some guidance when it comes to running a successful opt-in email marketing campaign.

Opt-in vs. Opt-out; Which is Best?

So, what is the difference between opting in to receive marketing emails and opting out of communications – and where does the term ‘unsubscribe’ fit into email marketing tactics?

The concept of opt-in emails is a straightforward marketing approach; you reach out to people who have given their contact details via a website sign-up. The opt-in method is rapidly becoming a popular option, as companies build a solid list of contacts directly from users on their website, instead of relying on the more traditional approach of buying a list of potentially relevant contacts.

Opt-out email marketing is slightly more tricky when it comes to maintaining interest, particularly for timely offers, as many recipients lose interest on receiving initial communications and this can sometimes lead to people hitting the dreaded ‘unsubscribe’ button – not ideal.

Using opt-in email marketing is the perfect opportunity to captivate and nurture initial leads, as someone has shown an interest in your company or product. It is then up to your excellent marketing campaign to be compelling, well-written and generally engaging enough that those potential customers become fully-fledged revenue for your business.

The Advantages of Using Opt-In Email Marketing

Compared to opt-out marketing, opt-in offers additional confidence to many brands, as the people receiving email marketing have expressed interest in the company or products. Building a strong, quality marketing list via ‘opt-in’ has become a more secure way for businesses to visibly see a return on investment, via their e-marketing.

Another advantage of using opt-in marketing is the years of consistently high open rates for companies all over the world, compared to it’s ‘younger cousin’, social media marketing. Brands try alternative methods of directly reaching potential new customers on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, by sending direct messages about discounts and offers that they assume their followers would be interested in. The results, however, indicate people simply are not ready to be contacted directly on their personal social accounts, with a measly 0.58% open rate for direct messaging.

A slightly less interesting but sensible advantage for opt-in emails is that they are also regulated, in a bid to protect people’s data when it comes to how companies store and use it. Which leads us on to the topic of regulation…

What is GDPR?

Ah, legal regulations. They may have all the appeal of a soggy sandwich, but they have recently become an important guideline for companies operating in the EU when it comes to storing and using people’s contact information. May 2018 saw the rollout of GDPR, which stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and was put in place to protect personal data, particularly when companies build marketing lists with the intention to reach out. Similar to the GDPR roll out, companies operating in the United States have to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, brought in by George Bush in 2003, to protect individuals from receiving marketing communications they didn’t opt-in for.

GDPR and email marketing

Whilst they may be rather dull, regulations have been introduced to protect both companies and recipients from having their details misused. As previously touched upon, when sending any type of communication to someone, there is a certain level of consent that the recipient will exercise. They will either choose to opt-in to hearing from you (via a sign-up), or they can be unknowingly added to a list and contacted because they have shown an interest in a third-party or related company. Ultimately, all of these methods involve storing and using someone’s personal contact details.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with building an email list via opt-in or opt-out marketing methods, email consent has come under scrutiny in the last few years.  Regulation has become an even bigger requirement to prevent the misuse of data, since many a company have recently suffered security breaches, with customer details being stolen.

Double Opt-In and Nurturing Leads

The double opt-in option requires a further ‘click’ via a link sent in another communication, such as an email or text message. This additional click-through confirms their interest in your company and that they want to hear from you, making them far more likely to convert and respond to your communications. The double opt-in is not necessarily right for every email campaign, but rather offers extra security for companies looking for a great-quality contact list.

By sending a confirmation message, you begin to nurture a lead, reassuring both yourself and the email recipient that they are interested in receiving information and offers from your company. Once they have gone through the effort of re-confirming, it is down to the quality of the marketing material to reach the ultimate goal of converting them to becoming a customer.

The double opt-in method is great for companies who offer coupons and other discounts that may be exclusive to subscribers, and it also avoids any emails being sent to spam folders. If an email list is not primarily focused on offers etc, the single opt-in option is fine. As long as your business offers some kind of opt-in email marketing, your correspondence list will stay clean and secure.

From a regulation point of view, the double opt-in is the ‘belt and braces’ approach – it ensures the contact is compliant and willing to be contacted.

Timing is Everything When Sending Emails

As with many things in life, timing is everything when it comes to sending campaign emails – and reaping the reward. Depending on whether you target B2B or B2C audiences, the day of the week will affect the open rate success. Tuesday is widely known as being the best day to send B2B newsletters and general marketing communications, whereas B2C companies find Saturday morning a great time to achieve excellent open rates. Then there’s the actual time of day your email is received. Avoid any time that is widely considered busy, for example, 9am is a big no, but anything between 12-2pm is highly likely to be seen.

timing is everything in email marketing

Avoid the Spam Folder

Email providers such as Gmail and Microsoft have spent many years developing algorithms when it comes to spotting ‘spammy’ words in an email, making sure to automatically file any potential spam emails away, without the user even knowing they are there. The key to avoiding this ‘automatic filing’ is to send good, well-written content. Inform your reader of the topic straight away, avoid using words such as ‘buy’, ‘spam’ or ‘free’ in your subject header and try not to overwhelm them with lots of imagery, once they have opened your email.

Avoiding the 'spam' folder


Ultimately, the level of success from your email marketing campaign is going to depend on many factors, such as quality of content, the time of day it’s sent as well as the quality of contacts it is sent to. Despite the pesky rumors stating email marketing is dead or on the way out, the stats simply prove otherwise. Above the noise of social advertising, clever cookie options and other tried-and-tested digital methods, opt-in email marketing remains the most successful campaign tactic, with the Independent Department of Marketing Bureau, or IMDB fully endorsing it as the most successful way to communicate with potential customers, in 2019.

Feature Image Credit from HostReviews.