A Year of Email Subject Lines: Seasonal Inspiration from 2023

January 26, 2024 | 9 minute read
Kelly Moran
Senior Art Director for Copy, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
Chad S. White
Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
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A catchy, yet descriptive subject line can give your campaign a sizable boost. One way to stand out and be more relevant is to have a hook that’s connected to a holiday, season, or occasion—like the nearly 1,000 we highlight in our 2024 Content Calendar Assistant.

To inspire you, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite subject lines from 2023 that do just that. Here’s a month-by-month rundown of our faves.

 

JANUARY

From a Jan. 13 Peloton email about Quitter’s Day

Quitter’s Day who?

In this email, Peloton says that 92% of households that join them at the beginning of the year don’t quit before Quitter’s Day, which is the day supposedly by which most people have given up on most of their New Year resolutions. Peloton then shares tips on how to stick with your workout resolution, including setting realistic goals, embracing short workouts, and getting a workout buddy.

From a Jan. 17 Allbirds email about the Lunar New Year

Our Lunar New Year Exclusive

To celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, the shoe company released a special edition Wool Runners that have bunny ears and tail embellishments. Does your brand have similar opportunities to create limited edition products tied to holidays, anniversaries, and other events?

From a Jan. 24 Uncommon Goods email about Valentine’s Day

What's a gift like you doing in a guide like this?

What a fun twist on the cliché bar pickup line.

 

FEBRUARY

From a Feb. 23 Clinique Online email about Black History Month 

4 trailblazing Black women reveal their favorite Clinique products.

Part of their Queen Me (#QueenMeClinique) campaign, this email reinforces Clinique’s message of inclusivity by spotlighting four amazing Black women and their answers to the question, “What does beauty mean to you?”

From a Feb. 24 VIZIO email about tax season 

Best way to spend your tax refund?

The average tax return in the US is nearly $3,000 and VIZIO uses this email’s subject line to connect with subscribers who might be looking to use at least some of the money to treat themselves. 

2024 is a leap year! Get inspired with these 29 Leap Day campaign messaging ideas.

 

MARCH

From Mar. 8 Bitly Team email about Proofreading Day

Hapy Proofreading Day! [Challenge Inside!]

Leading with an eye-catching typo and ending with a challenge for the subscriber is a powerful one-two combination that builds interest in this email, which promotes Bitly’s Redirect functionality and its ability to help fix mistakes like incorrect URLs or missing UTM tags. (Just don’t use Bitly links in your email campaigns. That’s a mistake that will hurt your deliverability.)

From a Mar. 14 Goldbelly email about Pi Day 

Pi Day PIZZA SALE 🍕

There are lots of overt occasions to promote pizza, including Pizza Week in January, Pizza Day in February, Pizza Party Day in May, and Cheese Pizza Day and Pepperoni Pizza Day in September. With this subject line, Goldbelly hijacks Pi Day from geometry fans to celebrate the most perfect circles ever: pizza pies. Can your brand do any creative holiday hijacking?

From Mar. 16. Sun Bum email about spring break 

Get ready for the best week of your life

Sunburns ruin spring break memory-making, so Sun Bum promotes sun-safe essentials for spring break. 

From Mar. 24 Nuuly email about Coachella

GOT YOUR WRISTBAND? 

The clothes rental company and second-hand clothing marketplace Nuuly promotes a collection of Coachella-worthy outfits available to rent for festival season.

 

APRIL

From Apr. 22 Quip email about Earth Day 

Can oral care really help heal the planet?

Offering subscription services for reusable/refillable toothbrushes, floss picks, and other oral care needs, Quip emphasizes the sustainability of its products in this email. 

From Apr. 28 Madewell email about summer

Schedule a pedicure

Madewell doesn’t offer pedicures (which its fans know full well), but the lifestyle-oriented subject line creates a curiosity gap that the preview text closes: “Because it’s sandal season.” It’s a great subject line–preview text combo.

Understand all the ways that subject line writing has changed over the years.

 

MAY

From a May 4 shopDisney email about May the 4th

May the 4th be with you

Disney, which owns the Star Wars franchise, celebrates the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in this email. Given the ever-growing body of Star Wars movies and TV shows, most years will provide an opportunity to celebrate a meaningful anniversary.

From a May 5 ActionRocket email about the coronation of King Charles III

EmailWeekly 421: An email fit for a king

The UK-based email marketing agency marks the coronation of King Charles III by filling their newsletter with a lot less email- and design-related news and a lot more coronation-related news. The king would approve!

Be sensitive to those who have suffered losses by giving subscribers the option to snooze email campaigns about Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other occasions.

 

JUNE

From a June 14 Peacock email about summer 

16 Originals fit for a summer road trip ☀️

Summer is a state of mind. So in this email, streaming service Peacock highlights some original shows that will give subscribers the summer road trip feels.

From a June 24 TeePublic email about Pride Month 

Best-selling designs by LGBTQIA+ indie artists

While we’ve already highlighted a number of creative and fun subject lines, you’ll notice that many more of them are straightforward—like this one from TeePublic—telling subscribers more or less exactly what the email is about. Always keep in mind that most subscribers are just skimming their inboxes, so keep it tight and descriptive.

 

JULY

From July 14 Duluth Trading email about National Naked Day

$14 Buck Naked Underwear For National Naked Day!

Duluth Trading promotes their Buck Naked Underwear as being “The next best thing to your birthday suit!” so they were excited to align this popular product with National Naked Day. How excited? They sent this email and two others, which used the subject lines “Stripped-Down Savings For National Naked Day!” and “Celebrate National Naked Day!”

From a July 14 FedEx email about summer 

{FirstName}, go have fun. We’ll be here.

Burnishing their image as a customer-centric brand, FedEx recaps all the ways they can help customers manage their shipments so they can focus on summer fun—not on whether they might miss deliveries.

From a July 21 West Elm Bath email about Self-Care Day 

Make space for self care

Over the past few years, and especially among younger people, self-care has been a major focus. West Elm taps into that theme with this Self-Care Day email about bathroom upgrades.

 

AUGUST

From an Aug. 2 JIGGY Puzzles email about summer

The Dog Days are *almost* over

Some fun double-duty work being done here to use the end of midsummer to promote the impending end of a sale on dog-themed puzzles. 

From Aug. 19 Popchips email about back to school 

Pop Back to Reality 🎉

With a bit of nice subject line branding, this Popchips email features back-to-school “snack hacks” and special offers.

From an Aug. 19 Namecheap email about World Photography Day

Start a photography side-hustle with our free tools #WorldPhotographyDay

All about empowering and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, Namecheap celebrates World Photography Day as a way of highlighting the free photography tools they offer, including Stencil and Logo Maker. The hashtag in the subject line is reinforced by a photo contest they ran on X.

 

SEPTEMBER

From Sept. 3 Roku email about the start of the fall TV season 

Goodbye pool season ⛱️ Hello TV season 📺

This subject line marks the seasonal transition from summer to fall—specifically the fall TV season. It uses emojis both as punctuation and to reinforce the transition from one to the other.

From a Sept. 29 Quip email about pumpkin spice latte

Tooth tip: Chase your PSL with a swig of H2O

Lots of folks look forward to the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes (PSLs). With this subject line, Quip shows that they’re looking out for their customers’ teeth, offering some oral health advice so folks can enjoy their PSLs without jeopardizing their oral health. 

 

OCTOBER

From an Oct. 25 Art.com email about Pablo Picasso’s birthday 

Today is Pablo Picasso’s birthday!

While Picasso’s birthday wasn’t included in our 2023 Content Calendar Assistant, there’s an almost inexhaustible number of artists, authors, scientists, chefs, and other innovators and luminary’s whose birthdays and work-related anniversaries could be the occasion for a promotion for your brand.

From an Oct. 28 Nuts.com email about National Chocolate Day

NATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY INSPO 🍫

To mark this day, Nuts.com shares behind-the-scenes pictures of how they make their Malted Milk Balls, and then offers a free bag with an order of $59 or more. Are there occasions where your brand could give customers a peek at how its products are made?

With holiday messaging ramping up in October, get inspiration from our holiday subject line word cloud.

 

NOVEMBER

From a Nov. 6 Goldbelly email about Thanksgiving 

🍗The “Rolls Royce of Turkeys” + Turduckens + Cajun Fried Turkeys!🍗

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Goldbelly supplies servings upon servings of turkey references—sandwiched between two poultry leg emojis—in this subject line for an email promoting…drumstick drumroll please…turkeys.

From Nov. 28 Crate & Barrel email about Giving Tuesday 

Let’s end hunger together this Giving Tuesday →

The furniture and housewares retailer uses Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to promote their partnership with Feeding America, asking their subscribers to donate to the organization, which Crate & Barrel has helped provide more than 38 million meals to people facing hunger. Most retailers are too focused on extending their Cyber Monday campaigns to leverage Giving Tuesday, but many consumers care about supporting brands that support worthwhile causes.

Boost your campaign results with these holiday email subject line insights.

 

DECEMBER

From a Dec. 2 Shutterfly email about Christmas 

Your memories from your Christmas seasons

This subject line speaks to the personalized nature of this email, which shares a selection of Christmas photos the subscriber uploaded to Shutterfly. It’s a nice walk down a snowy, festive memory lane, that’s accompanied by recommendations of products onto which these photos can be printed.

From a Dec. 29 Max email about year-end and year in review 

Stream the best of 2023

Aligned with the other “best of” and “year in review” emails, this email from Max taps into subscriber FOMO that they might have missed one or more of the most popular shows or movies available on the streaming platform.

From a Dec. 30 Pottery Barn Kids email about the holiday season 

Toy clutter? Our Design Crew has some tips ➞

For families with young children, the holiday season usually ushers in more toys—and more clutter. This email’s subject line speaks to that post-holiday problem. Call it pre-spring spring cleaning.

Want to up your subject line game? Check out our 2024 Content Calendar Assistant and look for occasions that align with your brand. Then brainstorm campaigns that make that alignment fun, impactful, or meaningful.

—————

Need help with your email marketing campaigns? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Responsys, Eloqua, and other Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers and employees—even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management. For example, our full-service email marketing clients generate 24% higher open rates, 30% higher click rates, and 9% lower unsubscribe rates than Oracle Responsys customers who aren’t.

For help overcoming your challenges or seizing your opportunities, talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or email us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.

Want to better understand your email marketing risks and opportunities, take advantage of our free Email Program Assessment. Our experts will check your deliverability, review your email creative, audit your signup process, do a partial competitive analysis, and more. If interested in this free assessment, reach out to us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.

Kelly Moran

Senior Art Director for Copy, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Kelly Moran is Senior Art Director for Copy at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. She is a writer by day and by night with a background in linguistics. Her understanding of copywriting across channels has been shaped by her experience in customer success, content management, and supporting boutique brands in retail and e-commerce. 

Chad S. White

Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.


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