If you run a small business, it’s unlikely that “writing perfect subject lines” is anywhere near the top of your to-do list.

And why would it be? You have much more important things to be worried about during this busy time of year.

But while you may not be overly concerned with your email marketing subject lines, there’s no denying that if done right, these pesky little things can be a huge help when it comes to the success of your email marketing.

Last year, we conducted a survey asking consumers about the factors that impact their decision to open marketing emails. 47 percent of participants said they make their decision based on the content in the subject line.

If you’re stuck for subject line ideas, this list of examples can help:

The question

Using a question in your subject line is a great way to make a more personal connection with the people viewing your emails. Here’s how to use the question effectively:

There are questions designed to intrigue readers:

1. Do you really have the perfect gift for your [wife/husband]?

Or questions that point out a common problem:

2. Struggling to find the perfect gift for [mom/dad]?

Or even questions that inspire people to take action right away:

3. Have you seen our perfect holiday [offer/collection/gift ideas]?

Bottom Line: Rather than telling people what you have or how you’re able to help them, ask a question that gets their attention and entices them to learn more.

The command

Questions aren’t the only way to catch your readers’ attention. Sometimes it pays off to be more direct with your audience as a way to get them to act now.

In some cases, you may want people to take advantage of an offer:

4. Don’t wait. Save % [percent off] this week at [your business].

Or register for an event:

5. Reserve your spot for [name of your event].

Or just read your latest news or updates:

6. Find out what we have planned for [month/holiday/shopping day].

Bottom Line: While you don’t want to be pushy or overly promotional in your subject line, you shouldn’t be afraid to be direct either. Your customers will appreciate it, especially during this busy time of year!

The teaser

Believe it or not, people love cliff hangers. And if crafted correctly, the teaser tactic will work really well.

Whether you’re teasing gift ideas:

7. 3 gift ideas for your [brother/sister/uncle/cousin] that you didn’t think of.

Or a new piece of content:

8. Learn how to [do something] this holiday season.

Or just teasing people with a way to have a stress-free holiday:

9. Stress-free holiday shopping is possible at [your business].

Bottom Line: Think about your target audience. Who are they? What are they interested in? What are the challenges they are facing this holiday season? Use this information to craft a subject line that teases their interests and gets them to want to read on.

The list

Lists make it easier for people to consume the information you’re sending out. They also give you the chance to demonstrate your points in a more compelling way.

Lists work for gift ideas:

10. [#] gifts under $[amount of money].


11. 5 reasons to attend [name of your event].

Or even for educational content:

12. 10 holiday time-saving tips from [your business].

Bottom Line: Remember, lists should simplify not complicate your message. Don’t mistake using a list in the subject line as an indication that you need to pack your emails with too much content. Instead, look for opportunities to link out to your website or other online assets from your email.

The announcement

Subject lines don’t have to be complicated, especially if the goal of your email is to simply announce something new.

You may be announcing new hours:

13. We’re open late! New hours for the holidays.

Or letting people know that you’re participating in Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday:

14. Come celebrate [shopping day] at [your business].

Or just letting people in on what you have planned for the end of 2013:

15. Don’t miss our December [specials/offers/events].

Bottom Line: Save announcements for when you really have something important to tell people about. Not every subject line is going to offer breaking news.

Save these tips!

15 Subject Line Examples for Your HOLIDAY Email Marketing Constant Contact

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