Search Email Moxie Posts

Discount Codes in the Email Subject Line

The Retail Email blog did a great job with its Subject Line Hall of Fame 2009.

It found that the most significant subject line trend of 2009 was the use of discount codes. Rather than forcing subscribers to open an email to take advantage of a discount code, retailers decided to experiment with putting the full call-to-action in the subject line. This tactic puts business metrics ahead of email metrics.

  • RitzCamera, 8/22 — Super Student Special, 10% OFF (Use Coupon Code 1828)
  • JCPenney, 9/9 — Use Code 32GIFT to Get Free Shipping!‏
  • JCPenney, 11/8 — Want Free Shipping? Use Promo Code 49SANTA At!
  • JCPenney, 11/26 — Use Code 25MERRY & Get Free Shipping!‏
  • Bluefly, 12/1 — Today Only! EXTRA 15% OFF Handbags & Shoes with Code HOLIDAY15‏
  • Ann Taylor, 12/8 — 30% Off All Full-Priced Items with Code WINTER + Free Shipping!
  • Sears, 12/15 — Hurry, savings end soon! Enter coupon code EXCLUSIVE‏
  • Linens ’n Things, 12/18 — Jingle your way to Savings! HOHOHO Coupon Enclosed!
  • Linens ’n Things, 12/19 — 4 Days Left to Buy More Save More! HOHOHO Details Inside.
  • Linens ’n Things, 12/21 — Hurry, Only 24 Hours Left to Save up to $24 with HOHOHO!‏
This is a great suggestion and well worth a test.


  1. Sure puts into perspective the importance (or lack thereof) of all those best practices for HTML creatives. Perhaps the email transaction process should be looked at more like the sales funnels of web analytics - not necessarily a bad thing if you get no clicks deeper down the funnel as long as you get quality conversions.

    I'd be interested to know the long-term impact on brand awareness and engagement at the cost of greater sales. If you get the promo code in the SL why open?

  2. Hi Maayan - Thanks for your comments. It would be interesting to see the long-term impact. Clicks, Opens and revenue from email would not be as relevant as they are today. I think using codes that are in the SL only and tracking these codes in the actual sales numbers would be the best way to determine if this works and how much it works. We shall see how popular this idea becomes...stay tuned ;) Jordan