We all love email marketing. With an average ROI of $36 for every $1 spent, it’s one of the most reliable (and least expensive) ways to generate revenue.
But it’s worth remembering that your audience sees a lot of emails. By 2025, the average person is expected to receive over 375 emails per day. So you can’t afford to rely on the same old messaging to keep delivering results.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s lesson: giveaway emails.
What Are Giveaway Emails (And Why Should I Care)?
Giveaway emails are exactly what they sound like: emails to promote a giveaway contest.
The most common use case for giveaways is to grow your email list. It normally goes something like this:
- A potential customer lands on your site;
- You serve them with a website popup promoting your giveaway;
- They enter by handing over their email address.
So why would you run an email giveaway? If you’re emailing someone on your marketing list, you’ve clearly already captured their name and email. What more do you want from them?
Actually, there are lots of benefits to sharing giveaway emails, such as:
- Promoting a product launch. Introducing a new product line? An email giveaway can help you build interest ahead of the launch date or encourage potential buyers to browse the collection.
- Cross-promoting other channels. Want to grow your social following or grow your SMS marketing list? Prompt email subscribers to sign up for other channels to enter your giveaway.
- Leveraging word-of-mouth marketing. Word of mouth is the most trusted marketing channel. Use it to your advantage by encouraging people on your email list to follow you on social and tag their friends in your latest post.
- Gathering customer feedback. You might ask subscribers to respond to a feedback survey to be in with a chance of winning your giveaway contest.
- Collecting customer data. Sure, you already have their name and email address. But you can build a more well-rounded view by asking for additional data — like their age, occupation, location, and favorite products — in return for entering your giveaway.
And the best thing about giveaway emails? They’re super effective.
According to one study, contest-related emails see average click-through rates of eight percent—over three times higher than standard email marketing campaigns.
But (there’s always a but)... It doesn’t matter how attractive your giveaway is if no one ever sees it.
Almost half of email recipients choose whether or not to open an email based solely on the subject line. So if yours isn’t up to scratch, you might as well not have bothered organizing the giveaway in the first place.
With that in mind, I plunged into the azure waters of Drip’s email marketing swipe file to fish out (and analyze) nine examples of high-converting giveaway email subject lines…
9 Giveaway Email Subject Lines
- 1. Tie your campaign to a holiday or awareness day
- 2. Highlight the cash value of your email giveaway prize
- 3. Reward customers with a gift card (and mention the cash value)
- 4. Spark curiosity through your subject line messaging
- 5. Drive immediate action with scarcity marketing
- 6. Gamify your giveaway email subject line
- 7. Boost open rates with a personalized subject line
- 8. Use subject lines to capture more user-generated content
- 9. Ask your audience a question in your subject line
1. Recess: Tie Your Campaign to a Holiday or Awareness Day
Giveaway email campaigns are all about generating as much exposure as possible.
Because you’re not giving away a bunch of products (or gift cards, or some other prize) for the sake of it — you’re doing it to grow your brand. And, ultimately, to boost sales.
For that reason, brands often prefer to align their giveaway contest around a holiday or awareness day, allowing them to piggyback on an existing conversation.
Apparently, August 8th is National CBD Day — an occasion for recognizing and applauding the many benefits of everyone’s favorite natural hemp product.
That makes it an obvious fit for a brand like Recess, which sells CBD-infused sparkling waters and mocktails.
Recess celebrated National CBD Day 2022 by hosting a giveaway of $1,000+ worth of CBD products. It promoted the contest with this simple but effective giveaway email subject line:
2. Sand & Sky: Showcase the Cash Value of Your Giveaway
Running a giveaway isn’t a guaranteed route to higher open rates. Consumers want to know the prize is worth winning before they click.
One way to do that is to add a cash value to your giveaway email subject line. Because, sometimes, numbers are more impactful than words.
This is borne out by research from Yesware, which analyzed 115 million emails and found that those with numbers in the subject lines saw above-average open rates.
It seems this message is getting through to marketers. Just under two-fifths of giveaway emails in our swipe file featured subject lines that discussed the prize on offer, while one in four referenced a specific cash value — just like this example from skincare and beauty brand Sand & Sky:
3. Taylor Stitch: Reward Customers With a Gift Card
Sure, gift cards aren’t the world’s most exciting giveaway prize. But it seems consumers appreciate their convenience and flexibility.
When Blackhawk Network surveyed loyalty program members to find out which rewards they find most valuable, gift cards proved overwhelmingly popular, with 70 percent wanting to receive them from ecommerce brands and 56 percent wanting them from brick-and-mortar retailers.
So don’t be afraid to keep things simple by promoting a gift card in your giveaway email.
But because gift cards have no intrinsic value, be sure to spell out how much your prize is worth, just like men’s clothing brand Taylor Stitch does in this example:
Because (most) people aren’t going to follow you on Instagram or fill out your feedback survey for a chance to win a $5 gift card.
4. Sunski: Spark Curiosity in Giveaway Email Subject Lines
Clearly, there’s something to be said for spelling out exactly what customers can expect from your giveaway.
But that’s not to say it’s the best approach for every brand.
Maybe your tone of voice is a little more whimsical; maybe your audience enjoys a little distraction in the midst of a busy day.
Either way, you can capitalize with a creative email subject line that sparks curiosity and prompts recipients to learn more. Here’s an intriguing example from the folks at sunglasses brand Sunski:
(For context, it turns out the surprise in question was — you guessed it — a product giveaway.)
Also, hat tip to Sunski for its emoji usage. While they’re not for everyone, research shows that brands can enjoy a 56 percent increase in unique open rates by adding emojis to email subject lines.
5. Prose: Use Scarcity Marketing to Drive Action
The fear of missing out is a powerful motivator. If we’re told a product is in short supply or only available for a limited period, it instantly becomes more attractive to us — which compels us to take action.
It seems this is particularly true of Millennial-aged consumers, three-fifths of whom say they’ve made a FOMO-induced purchase before, typically within 24 hours.
So it pays to give your audience a gentle nudge in the right direction by using scarcity messaging in your giveaway email subject lines.
Scarcity marketing is all about leveraging our innate FOMO to increase the perceived value of a product or promotion, thereby encouraging us to strike while the iron’s hot. It involves using phrases like:
- Don’t miss out
- Last chance
- Going soon
- Limited edition
- For a short time only
This strategy is a natural fit for giveaways, which are typically limited-time campaigns rather than always-on promotions. So try adding a little scarcity-inducing messaging to your next giveaway email subject line, like this example from haircare brand Prose:
6. 4ocean: Gamify Your Giveaway Email Subject Line
Giveaways are meant to be fun.
After all, who doesn’t enjoy receiving something free?
Lean into this lighthearted nature by adding an element of gamification to your subject line.
For the uninitiated, gamification is about stealing mechanics from the world of gaming and using them in non-game-related settings (like email marketing).
It might involve adding a “wheel of fortune” spinner or a quiz to your email body. Or it could be as simple as setting your customers a challenge in the subject line, like 4ocean does in this example:
The goal here is clear: 4ocean entices customers with gamified messaging in the hope of boosting engagement with its giveaway.
This approach works especially well because the “game” — guessing how much trash 4ocean collected on a dive mission — aligns with the brand’s mission to remove plastic from our seas.
7. Vinomofo: Boost Open Rates With Personalization
It’s hard to overstate the effectiveness of personalized email subject lines.
According to Yes Lifecycle Marketing, consumers are 50 percent more likely to open emails with personalized subject lines.
Despite this, only a tiny proportion of marketing emails — one in 50, to be precise — feature subject lines containing some type of personalization.
This is a massive opportunity for ecommerce marketers. You know personalized subject lines work, yet you know they’re also astonishingly uncommon. Sounds like a slam dunk, right?
Online wine retailer Vinomofo is evidently well aware of this. It regularly employs personalization in its subject lines, including this example used to promote a giveaway for its 10th birthday:
8. Sock Fancy: Use Giveaway Subject Lines to Generate UGC
User-generated content (UGC) is a dream come true for ecommerce marketers.
Not only is it free content — it’s also more effective than anything you could create yourself.
Research from Stackla discovered that four in five consumers say their purchase decisions are highly influenced by UGC, while only one in eight say the same about branded content.
What’s more, a Tint survey found that 72 percent of consumers feel customer-submitted reviews and testimonials are more credible than brands talking about their products. Which is hardly surprising when you think about it.
There’s only one problem: most consumers aren’t going to send you a bunch of high-quality content for no reason. They need an incentive. Which makes giveaways a superb strategy for gathering UGC.
In this example, Sock Fancy sets its stall out early by using its giveaway email subject line to invite user-generated content submissions:
9. Death Wish Coffee: Ask a Question
Email marketing is, for the most part, a one-way street: you share some content and your audience consumes it.
But you can at least create the illusion of a two-way conversion by posing a question in your email subject line, like Death Wish Coffee does in this example:
This might be a simple tactic, but it can yield powerful results. Indeed, Yesware’s research found that subject lines framed as questions see approximately 22 percent higher open rates than the average email.
Craft Stronger Subject Lines With Drip
Of course, you can’t expect to understand what works best for your brand by simply reading a bunch of email subject line examples.
You need to base your decisions on hard data.
Drip can help you do that. Our email marketing platform lets you test up to four subject lines or content variants at a time, so you can quickly understand what engages your audience (and what turns them off).
Want to take us for a spin? Sign up for your 14-day free trial today.