Today we continue our journey into the wizardry of writing subject lines that inspire your clients and readers to immediately open whatever you send to them.
Though I did receive one disgusted, thumbs-down, indirect comment from a friend of a friend who thought I was teaching you how to “fool” people into opening your emails. So, let’s clear that up right quick.
The intention behind your subject line is critical. If your intention is to fool people, you can learn to do just that. But they won’t like it. And eventually, they won’t like you either.
But if your intention is to write subject lines that spark your clients’ interest, inspire them to open your email and honestly represent the message you are sending, without resorting to stupid, manipulative tricks, then let’s get cooking!
Urgent! Immediate! Act Now!
I hate being pushed, rushed or told what to do. But I also hate losing out on an opportunity because I was busy doing other things.
This is why it’s a good idea to let your clients know, in an obvious, unmistakable way, when you’re sending a message about a special promotion or opportunity that has a deadline or time limit. Because they are busy and inundated with emails, just like you and me. And they may miss your deadline if your subject line doesn’t let them know that they need to act fast.
Put your urgent reminder right at the start of your subject line. For example:
- Only 24 hours left: $100 discount ends tomorrow.
- Important! Swizzle sticks on sale today only.
- Final Reminder: Raw food class registration ends tomorrow.
- Last Chance: Marketing videos come down in 6 hours.
If you start with an urgent command, you need to tell people what it’s about… like the ones above. Don’t just put “Last Chance!” or “Urgent!” in the subject line without giving the details of why it’s so bloody urgent.
AND… never cry “Urgent!” unless you mean it. If your subject line screams urgency and importance, but the body of your email doesn’t, you’ve just lost the trust of your client.
Oh and there’s no reason to scream. When you use ALL CAPS, it feels as if you’re screaming at people. So, don’t use all caps in your subject lines. In fact, as a general rule, you should avoid all caps entirely… unless you really are yelling as you write.
Ask a Question
Short provocative questions make irresistible subject lines. Especially if it’s a question that your email recipient doesn’t know the answer to.
- He said what?
- Should she do it?
- Did you see this?
Now, you can also ask yes or no questions, but they’re not as spunky or fun… and often not as effective… unless they’re about something your client really, really wants.
- Want to make $5,000 in one day?
- Do you need a tax break this year?
- Would you eat green eggs and ham?
This and It
When I examine some of my favorite subject lines, the ones I feel compelled to open, they often refer to “it” or “this.” Rather then tell me what “it” or “this” is in the subject line itself, I have to open the email to find out.
For example, refer to the two of the question subject lines I posted above:
- Should she do it?
- Did you see this?
You don’t know what “this” or “it” refers to. You have to open it to find out.
Here are some more:
- here’s why it’s not working (from Fabienne Fredrickson, who often has some pretty good subject lines.)
- wasn’t able to touch this — ’til now! (from Marie Forleo, who also writes some pretty great subject lines)
- Wanna know how I did it?
- Without this, you’re dead in the water (one from Rob Schultz)
Now, you may think this strategy is manipulative. And it is. But only if you don’t deliver the goods. No one minds being seduced, as long as the lovemaking is hot and satisfying. But if it’s not, you end up feeling foolish and full of regret.
It’s the same thing with email.
If you’re going to seduce your reader into opening your email, you better make sure it’s worth their while by delivering some pretty hot content. Otherwise, they’ll learn to not trust you or your come-hither subject lines. They’ll just press delete and move on.
Also, these types of subject lines often only work well IF your email recipient already knows and likes you. (Aw, shucks! I just broke my “never use all caps” rule. But then, rules are meant to be broken.) Otherwise, this type of email can feel too familiar and vague… even annoying. But if you’ve established some kind of rapport with your email list, these types of subject lines work really well.
And One Big Fat Pet Peeve
Do not, please, do not use RE: or FWD: in the subject line unless your email actually is a reply or forward. There is one big Internet marketing dude who does this all the time. Every promotional email I get from him has RE: at the front of the subject line, insinuating that we’ve been in some kind of one-on-one email correspondence… which we haven’t.
So, what do you think I do when his emails come? Exactly. Click. Delete. They’re outta here! The only reason I haven’t unsubscribed altogether is he writes good subject lines. Which makes it all the more sad that he feels he needs to resort to such dumb and misleading tactics.
Go Forth and Gather Ye Subject Lines
Here’s your homework. It’s easy and fun. And it will pay off big time.
Create an email folder or mailbox in your mail program. Title it “Delectable Subject Lines” or something like that. Then, every day as you peruse your email inbox, notice which subject lines entice you to open now. Which ones have that certain something that makes them irresistible?
After you read those emails, drop them into your “Super-Duper Subject Line” folder so you can refer back to them when you need inspiration or examples for your own subject lines.
Chances are good that if you find a subject line to be irresistible, your clients will, too.
If you already have some subject lines that you find irresistible, why not share a few here in the comment section below? Just give credit where credit is due. After all, you know how challenging it can be to come up with tasty subject lines, so let’s acknowledge those who’ve met that challenge and then some.
Either way, I’d love to hear your comments, suggestions and questions. Let me have ’em!