Mutiara van der Linden

Use emotions in your subject line this Valentine's Day.

Written by Mutiara van der Linden on
Valentines Post

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I know you hope this year your inbox will finally fleet with those dozens of letters from all of your secret admirers. The reality is, however, that most of the letters you will receive around this time are actually emails. Not from your secret admirers, but from companies trying to sell you something.

As a company sending out these emails around Valentine’s Day, you might have noticed that it can be a bit of an extra challenge to get your emails opened around seasonal events. This is because of the many emails that circulate around this time. Since 47% of the recipients look at the subject line to decide whether or not to open an email, having a decent subject line is quite important, especially now. However, what exactly makes a good subject line? Evoke certain emotions with it!


It is not that crazy that many marketing efforts deliberately try to play with our emotions in order to get us to do something. This is because it works quite well; the human decision making process includes a complicated mix of emotions. These emotions are prevalent during all stages of the decision making process and can provoke actions amongst us.

Think for example of these situations; you decide to buy some sunscreen after running across an information poster of the effects from sun on your skin, or you decide to donate to a charity after seeing an advertisement of a lonely elderly. These are some situations which show how our emotions can influence our actions.

Since Valentine's Day is an event fueled by excessive emotions, let’s take a look at how you can use these three emotions in your Valentine’s email subject line.

1. Curiosity

Us humans are curious species. The use of mystery as a tactic to attract attention has frequently been used. Intentionally withholding information, motivates us to seek such information. Why does this works so well? Withholding information elicits a knowledge gap. From this knowledge gap curiosity arises accompanied by a level of uncertainty. People are motivated to reduce this uncertainty by taking a certain action, so this is why it deems so effective.

Some examples of curiosity-inducing subject lines:

  • The secret to your best Valentine’s day ever.
  • Can you believe that she got THIS gift from her Valentine?
  • Is this the best Valentines gift ever?
  • 2. Fear

    Fear is not necessarily a pleasant emotion, but it is a strong one. You can induce fear by adding urgency like we discussed in our previous post . In urgent situations, the body releases chemicals that put our brain on alert, prepare our reflexes and enable us to act quickly.

  • Only 7 hours left to claim your offer- Don’t keep Cupid waiting.
  • Our Valentines gift to you: Free shipping until 14/02.
  • However, you can also induce fear by tapping into the “Fear of missing out”. This can be defined as the unpleasant feeling that you are missing out, or that others are doing or knowing something better than you. People care about what others think and do and you can use this fact in your subject line.

  • Chocolate again this year? Not a good idea.
  • Put a bit more effort in your Valentine’s gift this year with these items.
  • 3. Love

    A different way how emotions can influence our decision making process is by modifying our ideas of ourselves compared to our ideas of others. Love can increase the level of care towards others and increase the level of connection that we feel. Since Valentine’s day is, in the end, all about love why not use this in your subject line. Some examples:

  • Those who share together, stay together
  • You deserve some love this Valentine
  • The best gift this valentines is the gift of giving.
  • Testing is the best thing

    Do be careful as not to overuse these techniques, or you’ll have a chance that you won’t be standing out. This is what you don’t want to have:


    Playing in on the emotions of the readers has time after time been proven to work well, however the best thing is always to test your subject lines. So start testing with these emotions in your subject line straight away and see what they will do for you!