10 Spooktacular Subject Line Tips to BOOst Your Halloween Email Campaigns

Posted by Philip Storey on 01/09/19 13:22
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Halloween email subject line tips

Looking to dust off the cobwebs and bring your email marketing campaigns back from the dead? Or are you just seeking some blood tingling inspiration, just in time for Halloween? Well, you’re in (bad) luck. We've got some timely Halloween campaign tips that we've revampired (ok sorry!) to help you improve your Halloween subject lines. Enjoy this fang-tastic read to get fully prepped for fright night!

This blog was originally published in 2016 and has been updated every year to reflect the changes and developments in the email marketing industry each year. We have updated the blog for 2019 and we hope you enjoy it!

Check out all of our Halloween resources here:

The Ultimate Guide to Halloween Email Marketing

5 Horrifyingly Good Halloween Email Creative Examples

4 Fiendish Email Marketing Tactics to Boost Halloween Campaign Conversions

5 Creepily Creative Email Marketing Campaigns for Halloween

6 Scarily Simple Ways to Boost Customer Engagement This Halloween

1. Use emojis to gain inbox standout

Inboxes are crowded places during Halloween. Embrace emojis in your subject lines - it's a great way to stand out in subscriber inboxes  and from your competitors. It’s an easy and expressive way to encourage engagement, and that's key for successful email marketing campaigns.

In a report carried out by Experian, the research found that 56% of brands and companies using emojis in email subject lines had a higher percentage of unique open rates.

Halloween only comes around once a year, so use the opportunity wisely and do something different from the norm, something which casts a spell in subscriber inboxes.

Here's an emoji-packed email subject line example from TimeOut London:

Timeout Halloween email marketing subject lines with emoji

An another example from WeGotTickets: 

WeGotTickets Halloween email campaign emojis in subject lines

And one more from Queen of Hoxton:

Queen of Hoxton Halloween email subject lines with emojis

email-marketing-free-guide-automation

2. Give subscribers compelling reasons to open emails

Customers receive dozens of emails per day, so you'd need to present enticing offers and persuasive reasons to encourage subscribers to open your emails. Using limited time offers in the subject line is an effective way of encouraging people to open. Leveraging FOMO is a powerful tactic in email marketing, especially for retailers. Don’t be afraid to use command language, as calls to action in subject lines can emphasise the urgency of your offers.

Look at the FOMO utilised in this Halloween email campaign from Cadbury:

Cadbury Halloween email marketing campaign

Modern consumers are bombarded with marketing content from all angles, so perking their interest is difficult, amidst all the noise. However, we're adapted to avoid loss, it’s in our genetics. That includes the loss of a great deal. While a generic email subject line, such as “Killer Halloween Sale: 20% off” is ok, urgency in the subject line, like “Killer Halloween Sale: 20% off – ends at midnight” is more likely to prompt recipients to open emails and click calls to action.

Follow up your subject lines with Halloween-inspired discount codes, eye-catching visuals, seasonal email copy and even quirky (but relevant) offers, like Lands' End's Halloween email campaign example below, using "31% off" to tie in with 31st October:

Halloween email marketing campaign Lands' End black magic

3. Get creative with playful Halloween subject lines

As we mentioned, subject lines are vitally important in engaging subscribers and customers. Halloween is a key seasonal opportunity to be playful with your subject. For example, turn a subject line like “Scary savings: 20% off – until midnight”, into something even more playful, like “Scary savings: 20% off – until midnight, before the werewolves strike...”. Clever wordplay or fun-filled subject lines can help to grab your recipients’ attention and separate your brand from the rest of the marketing messages in their inbox.

Check out these Halloween-inspired subject lines from top brands:

  • No tricks, only treats this Halloween!  Cotton On
  • Trick or Treating on an Empty Stomach? Now THAT’S scary!  Papa Murphy's
  • We’re soo pump(kin)ed about this free gift – DAVIDsTEA
  • Grab a frightfully good deal with 15% of Fridays – Travelodge
  • What's your poison? – Las Iguanas

4. Add an element of mystery and intrigue

As Halloween is all about the spooky, creepy and entering the unknown, brands can afford to be mysterious. Big companies spend millions of pounds each year on Halloween marketing campaigns, so don’t be afraid to include thematic elements throughout yours. 

Employing reverse psychology in the subject is a sure way of grabbing someone’s attention. Admit it, when you see “OPEN IF YOU DARE", you’re dying to open it and see what’s inside. Incorporate this method into your marketing strategy for the Halloween period, this will entice your customers to open email through intrigue. Just look of the intrigue injected into this New Look email:

New Look Halloween email marketing campaign

Who doesn’t love an element of mystery? Check out these mysterious Halloween subject lines:

  • It Would Be Scary To Miss This!  Ben Adkins
  • Trick or treat? Spooky or sweet? – Etsy

Remember, you can be mysterious in your subject line then use your pre-header text to give more specific hints of what your email offers the recipient. In Etsy's case, the pre-header text mentioned "Shop Halloween costumes on Etsy..."

5. Integrate artificial intelligence 

If you’re stuck for ideas or just more to be more strategic with your Halloween campaign subject line, then take a look at Phrasee. They use AI algorithms and customer insights to help brands to deliver persuasive email marketing copy and click-worthy subject lines, optimising campaigns and adding more relevance for customers. It takes the guesswork out of your subject lines creation.

Phrasee email marketing tool intelligence for optimising subject lines

6. Up your frequency of sends 

In general, this is a very busy time for retailers and a great time to increase the number of email campaigns you are sending to all subscribers. Crank up the volume of emails even by one extra campaign a week and you'll soon start seeing even better results. Try it!

7. Retarget clickers that don't convert

Create an automation or campaign segment for clickers that don't convert. Send them an email campaign that's even more personalised, using a platform such as Dynamic Yield or Fresh Relevance to insert personalised product recommendations based on what they've looked at on the site or clicked through from email campaigns before. 

This all enables you to get closer to the subscriber by having a relevant dialog - this is an example of what I call a two-way inbox relationship with every individual subscriber.

8. Use first name for personalised Halloween retargeting emails

Think about it - when you go into any shop or store and speak to a sales person, you usually start with the product chats. But over time, the salesperson gets to know you and they learn your name. Your role as a marketer, is exactly the same. So, if you've tried to add first name to subject lines for regular campaigns and not really seen any impact, that's not a surprise to me. It's too early and it's creepy. Try testing adding first name to subject lines and your email design with follow up campaigns - measure the incremental uplift and it will blow your mind just how effective this little hack is.

9. Include memes in Halloween emails

Yep, I said it - put memes into your email marketing creative. Why? Because it works - it shows that your brand is more than just an ecommerce store and it brings you closer to people. How do you do it? Well, it's easy - just create a GIF from a video and you're good to go!

10. Gore and animate your logo

Halloween is a good time to bring a bit of blood and gore to your logo and email template background. Get creative and have fun with it. People respond well to those brands that loosen up a little around halloween. 

And finally...

Be human, not a vampire by sucking whatever you can get out of your subscriber list. It might work for a split second, but then you're back to the drawing board and things will be even harder.

It's so important to be authentic. The success of any email marketing campaign, starts with you as a marketer, meeting your customers where they are at right now... This is simply understanding and satisfying their:

  • Needs - what does she need right now?
  • Values - what are her values?
  • Desires - what would help her? What does she aspire for? 

This is where every campaign should begin. Not with results that we need as a marketer, but with what your prospects, subscribers and customers truly want, but with what they really need from you and understanding their desires. Even at Halloween, vampires lose at this. So go be human and have fun with Halloween, but remember to put your customer's needs before your own.

We hope our tips, tactics and brands examples have given you fiendishly good inspiration to cast a spell over your customers this Halloween. Remember to stand out, be creative, stay relevant and deliver irresistible reasons to engage with your email campaigns.

Want more great subject line strategies to help you create winning email campaigns? Get our free Ultimate Guide to Writing Email Marketing Subject Lines and go make waves with email!

Download Ultimate Subject Lines Guide


Enchant Agency is a leading UK email marketing consultancy, based in London. We help brands to create a big impact and reach their full potential with customer-centric marketing strategies. Do you need help with your email marketing campaigns? Or would you like to discuss your next project with us? Contact our world-class email consultants and let's transform your marketing performance! 


Topics: A/B testing, AI, algorithm, calls to action, Campaign planning, Email Marketing, Email marketing campaigns, Email subject lines, emoji, emojis, FOMO, halloween, Holiday email marketing, Persuasion tactics, Seasonal content, Seasonal marketing, Seasonal triggers, Split testing, subject lines, Testing, Marketing tips, email marketing tools, email marketing subject lines, email tools, email testing

Philip Storey

Written by Philip Storey

Philip Storey is the Founder and CEO at Enchant Agency. Philip is an email marketing specialist in London, UK. He has enabled hundreds of brands to improve their email marketing. Beyond marketing, Philip is a business coach, personal and professional development coach and mentor to business leaders and senior marketers.

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