Split-testing ecommerce emails to make more money
Top Tips For Split-Testing Your Ecommerce Emails
25th February 2019
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Ecommerce Email Subject Lines: The Ultimate Guide to Selling the Click

Ecommerce Email Subject Lines Blog

Avg. Reading Time - 10:15 mins

Avg. Reading Time - 10:15 mins

When it comes to writing subject lines for your emails, there is one very important thing you need to remember (and we know you already know…)

But here’s a reminder:

Your email subject line is the number one thing that will get customers opening your email!!!

If your subject line doesn’t “sell the click”, your customers will never open your email, never see what you’re offering and never click through to your website to buy from you!

So, one of the first things you need to address before sitting down to write your subject line is this…

What is the purpose of your email?

Is it a sales email? Is it content-based? Is it launching a product? Is it a welcome email?…

The list goes on!

Ultimately, once you’ve worked out what the purpose of that email is, this will help to steer what you put within your subject line to help you sell the click!

Don’t worry if you’re not a copywriting pro, we’ve got some tips in the next section of this post that will help you master writing your subject lines!

If you’re struggling with a purpose, perhaps it’s because you’re trying to cram too much into your email?

If that’s the case, remember that your email should have one main focus, with one particular action that you want your customers to take.

This doesn’t mean you can’t include other relevant links within your email, but your email copy should be centred around selling the main click.

For example:

  • If it’s a sales email, you should be selling the benefits of that particular product/service to your customer, getting them excited about what purchasing it would mean for them.

  • If it’s a content-based email, what will your customers learn by viewing that piece of content? How will it be valuable to them? How will it help them for the better?

  • If it’s a welcome email (you could choose a number of places to send your customer when they’ve signed up), you’ll want to introduce them to you as a company, let them know what they can expect and perhaps send them to a welcome video that tells them everything they need to know!

By focusing on one main call-to-action within your email, it becomes easier to focus your subject line and get your customers opening your emails!

But for a few more tips on how to use your subject line to sell the click, check these out…

Subject line tips to get your emails opened

Understanding the fundamentals of a good subject line is a very good starting point.

Remember, your customers are human and, as humans, they respond to certain triggers.

You want to trigger a positive response, so you need to get into the mind of your customer, tap into their emotions and write what they would respond best to!

Here are some tips that will help you do that!


    1. Keep it relevant. One thing that will certainly affect whether your customer opens your emails is relevance.

    If you are sending emails out to your customers that are simply not what they’re interested in, they are not going to open your emails.

    And, worse still, they may even delete your emails or mark them as spam!

    This will affect the overall deliverability of your emails in the long-run, which may mean they stop getting delivered to your customers’ inboxes all together!

    This would be a disaster for the future success of your email marketing, which is why segmentation should play a vital role within your email marketing strategy!

    By splitting your email database into particular segments (this could be related to product categories, purchase behaviour, or even by how active a customer is), you can create a separate email for each segment that will be filled with things your customers will be interested in.

    The contents of the email will of course steer what you put in the subject line, which will pique your customers’ interest… and so they open your email!

    Example: Say you run an ecommerce store that sells vitamins & supplements and you send out a weekly newsletter to your database.

    In this week’s newsletter, you’re covering a piece of content around the benefits of evening primrose oil for glowing skin, so you use the following subject line…

    Wouldn’t you love a healthy summer glow all year round?

    Is that going to interest everyone who buys supplements from you?

    No, it won’t. To your other customers it would just look like you haven’t taken their interests into consideration (otherwise you wouldn’t be sending something so irrelevant!), which could ultimately lead to them getting annoyed and unsubscribing!

    That’s why you would only send that email to people on your database that are interested in women’s health, for example. You’d know they were interested because they’ve previously bought women’s health supplements from you!

    And this is why segmenting your email database is so important - it ensures the right customer gets the right message at the right time…

    And reduces the likelihood of customers unsubscribing, deleting or marking your emails as spam.


    2. Personalisation can be key. How do you feel when you receive an email that addresses you directly? For those of us in the know, it’s super easy to personalise email subject lines…

    But to your customers, receiving an email where the subject line directly addresses them makes them feel important.

    So, this will also increase the likelihood of them opening your email to find out what it’s all about!

    Generally speaking, your email software will allow you to use “first name” tags in your subject lines and in the main body of your emails.

    You’ll just need to check out exactly how your preferred software provider uses those tags.

    For example, we use Klaviyo (who are our recommended email software provider) and all you do is insert {{ first_name }} wherever you want your customer’s name to appear!


In an inbox full of unread emails, there can be a lot of competition when it comes to getting your customer to open yours!

To make your emails stand out, and to stop your customers becoming blind to your emails, you don’t want to use the same types of subject lines all the time!

So, you can mix it up with the following tips (but don’t use all of these techniques in one subject line…)


    3. Create a bit of curiosity. Can you tease your customers with what might be in your email, in such a way that they just have to open it to find out more?!

    Example: We’ve never done anything this crazy before but here it goes…

    This example could work really well for a flash sale that you’re running, or something similar.

    As soon as you read that, you want to know exactly what is so crazy… and so will your customers, ultimately encouraging them to open your email!


    4. Add a sense of urgency. This works really well for sales and limited time offers, but it’s important that your subject line doesn’t come across as spammy!

    You want to be clever with your copy, so try to avoid all caps and overusing exclamation points, like “ENDING SOON!!!” or “Don’t miss out on this AMAZING offer!!!”

    Whilst it’s tempting to go down that route, what would your first instinct be if you saw an email with that subject line?

    I think it’d be fair to assume you would just ignore it, or even delete it!

    So, here are a few examples of good subject lines with a little bit of urgency…

    • Oh no! This is your last chance...

    • X runs out today!

    • Hurry, or you’re going to miss out on Y!

    • Wait too long and it’s gone!

    By also making them feel like they’re going to miss out (creating a bit of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out), you can really encourage your customers to open your emails.

    Just make sure that, in your email, you do go into the detail of what you’ve promised!


    5. Pose a question. If you’ve followed step one and the contents of the email your customer receives is relevant to them, posing a question can get them opening it!

    A good way to do it is to ask a question to which you know the answer will be “YES”, so that they will want to open your email to find out more.

    Example: Using the supplements ecommerce store example again, you’re launching a new product in your “gut health” category, so you send an email out to your “gut health” segment with the subject line:

    Wouldn’t you like to level-up your gut health?

    Of course, you would assume the answer to be “yes” because they are already interested in gut health.

    So, we would then recommend using your email’s preview text to really sell the click, by implying that opening the email will show them how they can do that:

    Because we have just the thing for you…

    Ask a question that you know will get them wanting the answer, and your customer is sure to open your email!

Swipe these subject lines

You already know that there are over 10 different types of ecommerce emails that your store should be sending (we covered 7 of them in this post! )!

So, with our top tips in mind, how can you create the best subject lines for those emails that will get your customers opening them?

Not to worry, we’ve got you covered!

Here are some great examples that you can swipe and use in your store’s subject lines!!!


The Welcome Series

The Welcome Series is used to indoctrinate new customers to your brand, so you want to get that across in your subject lines:

  • {{ first_name }}! Welcome to the family

  • We’re so happy you’ve joined us, {{ first_name }}

  • Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know!

  • You won’t believe what we have in store for you…

  • You made the right choice, {{ first_name }}!


The Abandoned Cart Sequence

When a customer abandons their shopping cart, you simply want to remind them that it’s still waiting for them:

  • Oh no, did you forget this?

  • We’d hate for you to miss out on this!

  • Don’t worry, we’re holding onto this for you!

  • Oops, you’ve left something behind!

  • Still thinking it over, {{ first_name }}?


The Abandoned Browse Sequence

Similarly to the abandoned cart sequence, if a customer has viewed a specific product, you can remind them of the item they were viewing:

  • Hey, {{ first_name }}… we saw you peeping!

  • Did something catch your eye?

  • Don’t miss out on {{ product_name }}

  • Hey, {{ first_name }}! Did you need help with anything?

  • It’s amazing, isn’t it?


Cross-sell Sequence

Cross-sell emails are great for suggesting complementary or similar items to products a customer has already purchased:

  • We saw this and instantly thought of you

  • If you liked {{ product_name }}, then you will love this!

  • Wow, {{ first_name }}! You need to check this out!

  • We really think you will love this, {{ first_name }}!

  • This would go great with your {{ product_name }}...


Re-engagement Sequence

For customers who have been inactive for a while, the re-engagement sequence is just a gentle reminder of what they’ve been missing to try and tempt them back:

  • Here’s what you’ve been missing out on

  • It’s okay, we’ve got you covered…

  • We just thought you really needed to know this...

  • You won't believe what's been going on!

  • Wait until you see what's been happening...


Win-back Sequence

If the re-engagement sequence fails, the win-back sequence is a last-ditch attempt at bringing the customer back:

  • Surely this isn’t the end?

  • It wasn’t you, so it must have been us?!

  • We’d really hate to see you go

  • Don’t leave us this way

  • We’d hate to have to say goodbye!


Once you’ve got your emails set-up and going it’s really important to test, test, test!!!

Ecommerce email subject line optimisation

Find out what works and what your customers respond best to – are there certain email subject lines that seem to contribute to higher open rates?

The easiest way for you to do this is to test two subject lines against each other by sending a portion of your list (usually around a third) a 50/50 split of the two subject lines and see which gets the higher open rate.

Most email software will allow you to track the test really easily, so you'll know what works in no time!

It’s also worth keeping a spreadsheet to track these results and help you optimise over time.

This will allow you to easily categorise the different types of subject lines and make a note of how well they perform!

Over time, you’ll build up a picture of what subject lines work best for what segments and types of email!

Ultimately, use some artistic license with your email subject lines!

We’ve given you the fundamentals of creating a good subject line and some examples that you can use…

So, you can now have a play around with what does and doesn’t work for your store (which you should already have an idea of anyway!)

And once you’ve managed to get your customers opening your emails, you want them to read them!

Check out this post we’ve written with some tips on how to write email copy that converts!

Ultimately, use some artistic license with your email subject lines!

We’ve given you the fundamentals of creating a good subject line and some examples that you can use…

So, you can now have a play around with what does and doesn’t work for your store (which you should already have an idea of anyway!)

And once you’ve managed to get your customers opening your emails, you want them to read them!

Check out this post we’ve written with some tips on how to write email copy that converts!