Best Subject Lines of 2021

Best Subject Lines of 2021

For the fifth year in a row, I have compiled the Best Email Subject Lines of the year! You can read the Best Email Subject Lines of 2017, the  Best Email Subject Lines of 2018, the Best Email Subject Lines of 2019 and the Best Email Subject Lines of 2020 to see previous winners winners.

Every year, I listed the best email subject lines according to my personal email inbox.

My Totally Biased Judging Methodology


  • 3rd place – You are on the list. Sometime in the past year, I opened one of your emails and thought, ‘Hey, that got my attention.’ I put a label on your email so you would be on this list when it came out.
  • 2nd place – You are on this list more than once.
  • 1st place – You have written more subject lines on this list than anyone else.

Since I subscribe to digital marketers and sales leaders, the content of the subject line skews to that school of thought. But I follow these people the most because they write the best email subject lines, and are more likely to contribute to my swipe files.

3RD PLACE – Best Email Subject Lines of 2021

     2ND PLACE – Best Email Subject Lines of 2021

    Those who earn 2nd Place in this annual contest make it on the best subject line list more than once.

    • [FREE] Download my Cheat Sheet – Pat Flynn
    • Learn these powerful email marketing strategies – Pat Flynn


    1st Place – Best Email Subject Lines of 2021

    Yael Bendahan

    Yael Bendahan is an online marketing and growth strategist, and specializes in training women to grow their business.

    Yael’s Best Email Subject Lines of 2021

    1. can I promote you in Q1? – Yael Bendahan
    2. do you see that elephant in the corner? – Yael Bendahan
    3. want to hit your income goals this month? (and next?) – Yael Bendahan
    4. the daily affirmation that changed everything for me – Yael Bendahan

    MAP workbook coverI’ve been collecting the best subject lines from my inbox every year for a while (see previous yearly roundups here). Feel free to review these subject lines, click through to the authors, and subscribe to their email newsletters (if someone is on this list, they are worthy to follow).

    Once you learn about writing better email subject lines, it’s time to automate your marketing! My Marketing Automation Planner takes you step-by-step through the process to create a lead generation machine. Get all my best tools, templates, and workbooks here:

    About The Author

    Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on

    How To Ask For A Testimonial From A Client

    How To Ask For A Testimonial From A Client

    I waited for weeks. My client said she loved my work, and promised to give me a testimonial, but she stopped returning my emails.

    Putting aside my imposter syndrome, I looked at things from her perspective. She was an interview host by trade. The whole reason she hired me was because she didn’t want to write her emails and sales pages.

    By asking her to volunteer her time to write a testimonial, I was giving her homework. That’s not nice to do, when you’re asking someone for a favour.

    So I asked myself: what’s the best way to collect testimonials from a client?

    The answer is: an interview.

    How to Collect Customer Testimonials with Interviews

    I called my client and asked her, “Can I interview you for about fifteen minutes, about what it was like working with me? I’ll take a lot of notes, and write up a short paragraph based on what you’ve said, and you can approve it or edit it to make sure it’s perfect.”

    She was happy to oblige.

    Lisa Garr The Aware Show“Caelan has a great way of taking your vision and making it a reality. He works really well with visionaries – I speak it, and he makes it happen! His website design for The Aware Show really captured my personality, and his project management skills kept my entire team on track. The beautiful summits he put together helped us to grow our list and expand our audience. Caelan is always positive and keeps a positive outlook on life!”

     – Lisa Garr, host of The Aware Show

    She used the phrases and wording in this paragraph – I just plucked them out of our conversation, and put them in an order that made sense. I also made sure to ask her about specific things I wanted to include in the testimonial, as well.

    By interviewing her about the experience of working with me, I took all the grunt work on myself, so all she had to do was chat with me. It was much more respectful of her time and attention, and when we are asking a client to do us a favour, we should be more respectful of them, not less.

    Below I’ve listed answers to some of the most common questions I get about how to collect testimonials from clients. But first, if you would like to use my step-by-step process for collecting testimonials with interviews, then you should enroll in my 5-Day Testimonial Collection Challenge: 

    Frequently Asked Questions about Testimonials

    Can testimonials be anonymous?

    Technically, yes, but they are not as effective. Ranking the types of testimonials in order of effectiveness, from most to least:

    1. Testimonial with name and headshot
    2. Testimonial with name and position
    3. Anonymous testimonial

    Where should testimonials go on a website?

    The first home should be at If I’m ever doing any sort of web design for a client, I always make this page if they don’t have it already. This page can serve as the storehouse for your testimonials, so anytime you are making a piece of marketing collateral – designing a new brochure, or writing a sales page – you know exactly where to go to find your master collection.

    In addition to having a dedicated Testimonials page (you can see mine here), you can also put testimonials on your website:

    • Below the fold on your homepage
    • In the footer
    • In the sidebar

    I do not recommend you put testimonials in a slider. (Read why sliders suck here.)

    Who can give testimonials?

    Anyone who has experienced a transformation because of you or your work can give you a testimonial. If you are just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, ask your former co-workers, or anyone who has worked on a project with you to collaborate.

    What’s a good testimonial email template?

    Personally, I’ve found that asking for testimonials over email has limited effectiveness. It might get you a few nice words with little effort, but that’s generally what they provide you – nice words with little effort.

    While I do recommend the testimonial interview process laid out in Testimonials 101, if you are going to ask for a testimonial over email, here’s a sample script:

    Hey there, would you mind sending me a few sentences that I can use as a testimonial? I really enjoyed the work we did together, and sharing your thoughts on my work would help me to find more clients like you. I’d appreciate it if you could mention [TOPIC] or how I [QUALITY]. If you could please send me a short paragraph by [DATE] I would be very grateful.

    How testimonials help your business

    Studies have shown that 88% of people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. Even if they don’t know the person who gave the testimonial, 88% of people trust those strangers as much as one of their friends.

    The social proof of having a good testimonials page can sway someone to make a buying decision in your favour.

    What questions should I ask to get a good testimonial?

    I have scripted my 6 best questions for collecting testimonials out in the free workbook that is part of Testimonials 101. Opt-in here:

    About The Author

    Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on

    4 Ways to Research Your Ideal Customer

    4 Ways to Research Your Ideal Customer

    Why does a customer buy from you? If you can discover this golden reason, the journey from Stranger to Customer will be much easier to follow. In this article, I’ll share with you 4 ways you can research your ideal customer, to improve your ability to sell to them. First, let me ask you a question:

    What do you know about your customer?

    • What’s bothering them?
    • How do they make decisions?
    • Where do they go for help?
    • What makes them decide to buy?

    If you know the answers to these questions, you can guide people into doing business with you. If you don’t know…you’re guessing.

    Here’s how you can cut the guesswork:

    1. Competition research
    2. Go to their forums
    3. Make Facebook Audiences to build your list
    4. Survey your customers

    Are you selling, or are you marketing?

    There is a difference between sales and marketing. Sales is when you convince one person in front of you to buy something from you, right now. Marketing is when you convince groups of people to buy from you, anytime.

    The lines can blur between sales and marketing, which causes confusion about what you actually…do. Marketing often adds urgency, with a limited time offer, and makes it more of a sale. Making a sale, research tells us, can take 7 or more touches before the close, so it can seem to take the same amount of time as marketing. But they work in two distinctly different ways:

    Sales is one-to-one, and Marketing is one-to-many.

    The best marketers are good salespeople, and good salespeople are also good marketers. Find the best marketers and salespeople in your field, and you can discover what’s working, by doing what they do.

    Next time, I’ll help you do some research one-to-one. Today, we’re going to research one-to-many.

    Competition Research

    Henry Ford had a tremendously difficult job to do. He introduced the first mass-produced automobile to the American market. “If I had asked people what they wanted,” he said, “they would have said faster horses.”

    Creating a brand-new market is daring, perilous, and complicated. Don’t build a new market from scratch, unless you have successfully entered a saturated market a few times. For most entrepreneurs, you want competition in your field.

    Competitors help you to identify trends, generate ideas, and harvest customer research. In most cases, you should be able to find someone who is already doing what you do, and doing it well.

    If you are not pioneering a new market, and you can find 3-5 rock stars in your industry, pay attention to what they are doing. Follow them on social media. Subscribe to their newsletters. Read their content.

    Take notes.

    The most effective strategies I’ve implemented in my digital marketing agency are adapted from other experts. I pay close attention to people who are better than me (like her and like her and like him and like her), because they are investing time and money and resources into researching what works.

    If these people do something clever, the result of six months of customer research, I adapt their tactics for my own business. The best part is, I don’t have to spend six months figuring it out.

    Big Caveat: Don’t just cut and paste from your competition. It’s dishonorable, illegal, and lazy.

    If you learn the difference between repurposing work and copying work, you gain a big advantage. You can model the successful systems of your predecessors – but be careful not to cut too many corners. Do the work.

    As Kaleigh Moore says on the Shopify blog, “Keeping an eye on your competitors helps you anticipate shifts in the market, spot new trends and successful tactics, and stay on the cutting edge of what’s working within your niche.” They even have a competitive analysis template here

    Once you know what your competition is doing, go to your customers.

    Go to their forums

    Reddit and Quora are treasure troves of newbie information. These forums don’t have a lot of spammy sales pitches, because the forum architecture naturally discourages them (thanks to upvotes and downvotes). This raises authentic content to the top of the feed, making it more likely that people will read posts relating to the topic at hand.

    What does this means for you, doing your customer research? You can go into one of these forums, and search around on keywords related to your topic. What you will find are a bunch of newbies, all asking basic questions that you are uniquely qualified to answer.

    This is valuable for two reasons:

    • First, you can answer these questions and make some connections.
    • Second (and more importantly), you learn how your prospects phrase their problems.

    You can amplify the effectiveness of your marketing copy by using the phrases your customer uses to talk about their problems.

    As James Mulvey says on the Hootsuite blog, “Reddit can help you observe what people really think about your industry and products, reveal what frustrates customers, and help you create marketing campaigns and content that kill those pains.” 

    The comment threads on forum posts can be a goldmine of information for you. You can eavesdrop on people who are trying to solve the problems that you can solve, all laid out in a threaded conversation, on a free website.

    When you read through these conversations you will see how they interact with their problem. They will talk about the types of solutions they try, and where they encounter obstacles. You can read the solutions that other people offer, and see how they react. You can make note of what works for them, and what makes them lose interest.

    Forum research opens your customers’ minds up like a book. This gives you a deep understanding of how they are currently searching for answers.

    Make Facebook Audiences to Build Your List

    Facebook allows anyone with a minor amount of technical aptitude to create a ‘Lookalike Audience.’ Use their sophisticated demographic and behavioural data algorithms. You don’t have to be a social engineer, all you need is a list of your current customers.

    Do you have a spreadsheet of customers? Does it have enough contact information (name, email address, zip code, and so on) that Facebook can identify their user profiles? If so, then you can enter one of the most sophisticated marketing research games in the world.

    All you need to do is create a Facebook ad campaign. Upload your .csv of customer data, and Facebook can create a Lookalike Audience. This is a group of people who have similar interests, similar activity, and similar data collected about themselves.

    Using this Lookalike Audience is limited to the Facebook platform – you can’t export these lookalikes and start cold calling them. But you can advertise to them.

    As AJ Agrawal says on the Forbes blog, “I highly suggest running a series of low-budget campaigns to see which ads and messages work best. Only increase the budget once you find one with a low acquisition cost.” 

    What messages make these kinds of people respond? Learning from your Lookalike Audience helps you hone your Ideal customer avatar template.

    If you already have a working Sales Funnel, then you can advertise a Lead Magnet to these folks, and start filling your pipeline. If not, you can still use a Lookalike Audience for customer research, through surveys.

    By asking similar people a series of survey questions, you gain valuable marketing intelligence. You can use this to sell to them in the future.

    Survey Your Customers

    Ryan Levesque is a master of customer research. He has worked with a Deep Dive Survey for years, and his book “Ask” is a wealth of information. He describes how (and why) asking good questions on surveys will lead you to copy that makes high-converting headlines.

    Whenever he is entering a new market, Ryan will offer an incentive for people to take a detailed survey. The first question, all by itself – before he asks for their name, or email address, or any contact info – he asks, “What’s the #1 challenge you’re dealing with in relation to _____?”

    He puts this question first because – it’s the most important question. If the user leaves the survey before completing all the questions, at the very least, he gets the answer here.

    The responses to these questions are framed in the customers’ language, using the terms they use, and the way they think about their problem.

    These specific phrases can become marketing copy, so when similar Customer Avatars see a headline with that specific phrase, they think, “This was made for me! I’ve got to get this.”

    Remember, the ultimate goal of any piece of marketing is to make someone say: “Shut up and take my money!” If you can create that reaction, your marketing is a success.

    Ryan uses many sophisticated techniques to gather customer intelligence. If you are planning to do a survey campaign, I highly recommend reading his book, Ask.

    Setting up complicated surveys does take a lot of work. While it can reward you with qualitative data, the technical complexity to gather it might not be worth it.

    That’s why many businesses prefer the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method. Gather customer research by interviewing customers one-on-one. I’ll talk about that in an upcoming article – subscribe to my newsletter to get notified when it’s ready.

    About The Author

    Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on

    The Easiest Email Autoresponder Sequence for Bloggers

    The Easiest Email Autoresponder Sequence for Bloggers

    If you have been blogging, then you already have an easy email autoresponder sequence that is 85% done. Writing email newsletter autoresponders doesn’t have to take a long time; you can repurpose your best blog posts, using the 10-step system in this article. Before I describe the step-by-step process for converting your best blog posts into email autoresponders, let’s take a second and remind ourselves why email autoresponders are so effective.

    Email autoresponders convert strangers into customers, automatically.

    You’re facing a problem, and you’ve met someone who is solving that problem. They offer you a solution: it’s an intriguing lead magnet, giving a step-by-step solution to your problem, and you only have to subscribe to their newsletter to get access. Shyly, you hand over your first name and email address, and your relationship begins.

    Over the next few weeks, this person courts you. They send you interesting and useful emails, that seem like they were written just for you. Over time, you begin to know this person. Then you like them, because they are funny, and engaging, and real. Finally, you trust them, and when they ask you to buy something, you agree.

    This is what an email autoresponder sequence is supposed to do.

    “Autoresponders allow you to build ‘know, like and trust’ before you ask for the sale. That way, you can convert more customers, and you can do it without being overly ‘salesy’ or pushy.”
    – Mary Fernandez

    Research tells us that it can take up to 7 touches to close a sale. So don’t try to sell your services right away in your confirmation message – treat this new relationship like a courtship.

    Butter them up. Demonstrate your expertise. Tell some stories. Share some photos of you and your life. Give them time to get to know you for a few weeks, and then, when they are interested, ask them to buy something.

    What is an email autoresponder, and how does it work?

    “Autoresponders are the hardest-working, unsung heroes of content marketing. They’re a series of emails you write once and set up to send out at pre-set intervals to anyone who asks for them.”

    Beth Hayden

    Simply put, an email autoresponder is a series of pre-written email messages. They are sent at specific intervals after someone subscribes.

    You can think of email autoresponders as evergreen newsletters – rather than sending them out once a month, or every Friday, email autoresponders are sent in a predetermined sequence after subscription.


    The Secrets of Great Autoresponder Messages

    • The best autoresponder emails are repurposed from your best content.
    • They can be short, or long, but they typically only ask the reader to take 1 action.
    • Use a testimonial or a PS at the end.

    “The very first email you send to a new subscriber sets the tone for how they see you for the rest of their time with you – so you want to get this one right. It’s also the single best email for getting them to look at specific pages of your site, like popular posts or product pages.”
    Naomi Dunford

    How do you write the best email autoresponder, without creating tons of new content? Simple. Don’t start from scratch. Use your blog.

    Your blog is a pre-written autoresponder series waiting to happen

    Every time you write a blog post, you have a free email autoresponder message.

    This is a piece of content that your future email subscribers would be happy to read, if it’s on-topic and relevant. Chances are, they are not going to subscribe to your newsletter, and THEN go read every blog post you’ve ever written. The likelihood of doubling up here is very low, and the likelihood of presenting useful and interesting information is very high.

    “An email autoresponder easily makes use of the blog content you’ve already created. Most readers haven’t read everything you’ve written, nor have they read it in sequential order. Your email autoresponder groups related topics together and packages it neatly for the convenience of your readers, delivering it right to them.

    You don’t have to create new content in order to make this happen. You can use what you’ve already written for your blog.”

    Julie Neidlinger

    You can pick your own favorite blog posts, and decide manually; or, you can follow the data. The blog posts that are most successful on your blog are typically the ones that will make the best autoresponder emails.

    10-Step Blog-To-Autoresponder Email Series Writing System

    1. Go to Google Analytics, and find your most popular posts.
    2. Create a card for the title of each post in Trello, and link to the article on the card.
    3. Drag and drop the subjects until they make a sensible progression.
    4. Scrape a couple paragraphs from each post, and paste the content onto the card.
    5. Create a copy of the Stellar Email Template in Google Docs (linked below)
    6. Paste the content from the Trello cards into the template.
    7. Edit the copy in Google Docs. Add connectors, like ‘I’ll tell you all about X next week,’ and ‘Remember last week, when I talked about X?”
    8. Add a CTA (Call-to-Action) to each message. Sometimes, this is just a link to read the full blog post, but it may be ‘book a call with me’ or ‘reply’ or ‘buy this product.’ Make sure there is only 1 CTA.
    9. Migrate the content from Google Docs to the email autoresponder delivery platform.
    10. Subscribe with a testing email, to review the results.

    This final step is critical. There are so many moving pieces in any autoresponder email series, it is inevitable you will find things to tweak and edit only by being on the receiving end.

    Setup an email address [email protected]. Subscribe to your own newsletter. Make note of what you find, what needs to change, and what can be better.

    About The Author

    Caelan Huntress helps people sell their stuff online. As a website designer, sales strategist, copywriter, and digital marketer, he works with entrepreneurs, coaches, authors and public speakers to bring them more calls, more clients, and more customers.

    Get the Stellar Email Template

    (Fill-in-the-blank email autoresponder series)

    Social Media Marketing

    Social Media Marketing

    Social media marketing can be done well, or done badly. No matter how good you’re doing, it could be really easy for you, or really hard. The easiest way to make sure your social media marketing is both easy and good is to follow the advice of people who have mastered the mediums.

    6 Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

    #1 – Say something valuable.

    Seth Godin talks about ‘the trap of social media noise.’ Just because we can say things in so many places, to so many people, it doesn’t mean we should.

    “Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.”

    – Seth Godin

    #2 – Don’t spread too thin.

    Every account you set up will cost you, in time, energy, and mental overhead. Ask yourself which accounts are really necessary, and if you should skip one, then do it.

    Ashley Kemper wrote a comprehensive overview at Marketing Land comparing each social media platform, with specific guidelines on when these different platforms make sense. Her recommendations are very detailed, so read her article if you have any questions about a specific platform. Her guidelines were:

    • Use Facebook if you want to reach a massive audience with a diverse array of content types.
    • Use Twitter if you have frequent updates or content with a “timeliness” factor.
    • Use YouTube if your business could benefit from product demos, testimonials, or putting a human face to your brand.
    • Use Google+ if you have a physical location and want to appear in local search results.
    • Use LinkedIn if you are in a B2B space, or you want to speak to a more professionally-oriented audience.
    • Use Pinterest if you want to target a female audience and have great visual content.
    • Use Instagram if you can create interesting visual content on a regular basis.
    • Use Foursquare if you have a brick-and-mortar location.

    Read her article for more depth on each platform, if you’re not sure whether or not one of them is a good match for you.

    #3 – Variety is the spice of social media.

    Posting the same thing, all the time, isn’t giong to keep your audience engaged or interested. On the 8Days blog, Jimdo recommends a 70-20-10 formula.

    “Don’t be overly promotional: Nobody likes someone who just talks about themselves all the time. 70% of your content should add value for your followers (such as sharing blog posts, coupons, etc.), 20% should be sharing other people’s content (posts from other businesses or highlighting customers), and only 10% should be directly promoting your business (such as “come by our store we have a new shipment of handbags!”).”

    Social Media Marketing Formula:

    • 70% adding value
    • 20% sharing other people’s content
    • 10% direct promotion

    For every promotional tweet you write, prepare to publish 10x that much content that is for connection and relationship-building.

    #4 – Show Them The Wizard Behind the Curtain

    Social media marketing is your opportunity to be seen by your audience, really seen. They don’t want to see your products; they want to see you, working at your craft. Share the stories of what it’s like to do what you do.

    Ramsay at Blog Tyrant recommends being open on social media to create customer loyalty:

    “Social media is a fantastic way to break down the barriers of facelessness. By showing your potential customers the people behind the business you are giving yourself a chance to be different from all the other competition. They will become loyal to you.”

    – Ramsay

    #5 – Get Popular To Get Seen

    Popularity snowballs. The more that people like you, the more they like you, and it’s not just momentum; it’s math.

    On the Buffer blog, Alfred Lua gives 10 social media tips, and describes the importance of popularity:

    “Social media platform algorithms, such as those on Facebook and Instagram, are prioritizing posts with higher engagement on their feeds due to the belief that users will be more interested in seeing highly engaging content.”

    – Alfred Lua

    Collect likes, retweets, and shares, and you will rank higher ion the algorithm of social media platforms, and get seen more often.

    #6 – Stay Authentic

    Most people can sniff a sell-out, and it stinks. A genuine, long-term relationship can be completely derailed by staying in sales mode all the time.

    Everybody needs to sell. It is, most often, why we get on a soapbox in the first place. But the only way to keep authenticity is by staying authentic, regularly.

    As Timothy Skyes says in 8 Tips On How To Grow Your Social Media on

    “You need to find that balance between popularity and business. You need to have a little bit of both and mix the more fun side that wants popularity with the serious and informative side that boosts the reputation of your business.”

    – Timothy Sykes


    Social Media Setup – Done For You, or DIY

    If you need to get your new brand up and running on social media, you can hire Stellar Platforms to do it for you, or you can buy our DIY kit for a tenth of the price, and do it yourself.