Persado Props: Best Email Subject Lines of 2018

Priyanka Bath, Persado Director of Campaign Management 

best email subject lines 2018

As the year draws to a close, we as marketers tend to have one thing on our minds: What’s coming next year. But before we get to that, we can and should take learnings from the last 365 days. In marketing, an email subject line often serves as a first impression — it’s the first thing a customer sees and, if they like it, your chances that they’ll click through and convert are better. These brands earned Persado props for being the best email subject lines of 2018 in their industries. 


Best in class: Gap editorial subject lines

The Sherpa jackets you’ve been seeing everywhere

The best one you’ll own: Meet the Icon Denim

These pants are closet necessities (hint: plaid)

Gap takes the cake for achieving an authoritative yet familiar tone in their subject lines. Their subject lines manage to sound both like an email from a close friend and a message from one of the biggest clothing suppliers in the world. Take “The Sherpa jackets you’ve been seeing everywhere.” This message lets you know what’s on trend and where to get it, but with a touch of intimacy by using “The Sherpa jackets you’ve been seeing everywhere” as opposed to “The Sherpa jackets that everyone is wearing.” 

Honorable mention: Azalea subject lines

Shortest horror story ever: Sold Out.

Shop and be #unselfie at 30% off? Yes please!

Wear now, pay later. (this is with our partner Affirm, obviously)

Azalea is owed some recognition for keeping it fun and fresh while also short and direct.


Best in class: Southwest Airlines

This sale comes with basic compassion.
(Subject line for a flight sale where the first few checked bags are free, and there is no fee for changed flights.)

Sale fares. Everything is included.

Memories on sale now.

Southwest Airlines’ subject lines always sound very positive and a bit more personal than other airlines.

The first subject line contains language that’s rare: “basic compassion.” It’s a promise I would never expect from any brand because it’s so human and nonspecific. Most brands would prefer to specify the benefits and let any emotion exist through implication. Think “with complimentary drinks” and “8 inches more foot room” (subtext being: you’re not completely chattel to us). Southwest is clearly committing to a higher level of service through more personal messaging. It reads more like “We know you need luggage to travel and that plans change, and we’re going to work with you.”

Honorable mention: Frontier Airlines

BUFFA-LOW Fares! Flights from $39!
(Not flights to Buffalo. Just an image of a buffalo in the email body hero.)

Be a DEER & save some DOE 🦌 fares from $20.
(Image of a deer in the hero.)

Summer vacation? Dolphin-ately! 🐬 Fares from $39!
(Yep, an image of dolphins in the hero.)

Frontier Airlines deserves a shout out for their use of ridiculous animal puns. I particularly like that they have no obvious context; it appears that they write the pun, then add context in the email body.

Financial Services

Best in class: Simple Bank

Underappreciated but important legalese awaits inside.
(Subject line for Simple Bank’s annual notice of Regulation E and Privacy Practices)

{FirstName}: No tricks from us, just treats 🍬
(Sent Oct. 25)

{FirstName}: Leaf the budgeting to us
(“Sweater weather” newsletter, sent October 2)

Simple Bank’s emails are generally fun and playful, which is rare for Financial Services, and also why I love them. The first subject line is especially impressive because it puts the bank on your side. Because they don’t hesitate to call the content of the email exactly what it is (legalese), it feels empathetic like “We know, we know, we feel you on how boring these emails are.” 

I also like how they added a few adjectives to help me understand what to make of this legalese, considering most annual update email subject lines are alarming and vague. (You know, like “[Your bank]’s Privacy Policy is being updated” or something especially impersonal like “Notice of updates.”) If you read through this type of email without finding any change that’s meaningful to you, it feels a bit like a bait and switch. Simple Bank is so upfront about this. “Underappreciated but important” tells you exactly what to need to know: “you might get away with ignoring this, but you shouldn’t because it’s actually important.”

Honorable mention: Chime Bank

Your referral reward 🎉

Automatic Savings turned back on 📈

Someone joined Chime with your link! 👍

Chime Bank gets a mention for their fun use of emojis, a rarity among financial service brands.

Make our list of best subject lines next year (or paid media and landing pages!). See how your brand can better use emotion and language to engage consumers with a complimentary demo of Persado’s technology.

Stay tuned for our top websites of 2018, out Jan. 4.