How to Write an Email Subject Line That Doesn’t Completely Suck
A quick question. Why are you reading this?
Don’t over-think it.
The truth is that you’re reading this right now because you were engaged by the subject line. You saw “How to Write an Email Subject Line that Doesn’t Completely Suck,” and something about it drew you in.
If you want the same principles to work for your newsletters and marketing emails—generating you more leads—then let’s take a look at the best ways to tackle email subject lines:
Tip #1: Don’t Ever Write Boringly
Notice what I just did there? “Boringly” isn’t really a word, but it’s just different enough to keep your attention.
In the world of email newsletter subject lines, attention is king. And the fastest way to give up your reader’s attention is to bore them.
You need to start thinking about what excites people. What engages them.
Statistics at Hubspot found that even just writing the word “Newsletter” in an email header saw an 18.7% decrease in opening rates.
“Newsletter” is boring.
When someone pictures a newsletter, they picture what is essentially a homework assignment. They picture long words. Long paragraphs. Articles written about a company that doesn’t have much to do with them or their life.
What’s more, people who read email headlines make such lightning-quick decisions that even seeing the word “newsletter” is enough to make them move on to the next one. When they click “delete,” it’s all over.
The very first thing you need to do with your next email headline is simple.
Is it interesting? Is it engaging? Does it offer something that looks like it’s outside the usual email subject headlines? Or are you simply counting on your hope that the email will somehow get noticed?
If you still struggle with this idea, simply put yourself in the shoes of someone on your email list. They’re sitting down to check their email, and they’re happy to get rid of anything they think is non-pertinent. In short, they’re “Inbox cleaners,” not “Inbox readers.”
If you’re going to get through to them, you have to ask yourself: “is my email headline interesting enough to warrant opening?”
Sometimes, it really is that simple.
Tip #2: Make the Focus About Them, Not You
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
-Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”
There’s a reason that newsletter headlines the world over include a method for automatically inserting the reader’s name. Dale Carnegie explained it well when he wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
People want to hear about what’s relevant to them.
One of the most common mistakes in email subject lines is writing about something that only concerns you or your company. Consider the following common headlines:
- “We’ve got big changes going on at our company…”
- “Our New Mortgage Offerings: Read Here”
- “November is ‘Look At A New Mortgage Month’”
On the surface, those email subject lines look just fine. But what are they missing?
They’re not even hinting that something might be relevant to you, the potential reader.
Even an email subject line as ordinary as “You’ve got to hear this” at least suggests some sort of exclusivity. And by including the actual word “You,” it invites the reader to be a participant in what comes next.
Everybody wants to be included. No one wants to be left out. That’s what your subject line needs to suggest to people: that they are the ones with an opportunity.
Tell people how generous you are by giving away something for free and they’ll look at you skeptically. Tell them how they can get something for free, and they’re all ears.
If you can remember the simple principle laid out by Dale Carnegie, your email subject lines will improve dramatically. From now on, it’s not just about what’s interesting. It’s about what’s interesting to the very people you’re attempting to turn into customer leads.
Think about what will make them want to open an email subject headline, and you won’t have to ask them any more favors. They’ll do it on their own.
Tip #3: Embrace the brief sentence.
Do you know the origin of the “laconic phrase”?
As legend has it, Phillip of Macedon once sent a warning to the Spartans: if he were to invade Laconia, Sparta would be destroyed. Sparta replied with a single word: “If.”
It was such a cool reply that Phillip of Macedon didn’t invade.
“Laconia” is the home of the laconic phrase because Spartans were about action more than they were about words.
So, too, should your email subject lines be brief. But this time, you’re not battling Phillip of Macedon. You’re fighting the reality of the modern attention span.
According to ContactMonkey, 40% of emails are opened on mobile first. And people on their smart phones aren’t exactly known for taking the time to read every last word you say to them.
The good news here is that long, complicated sentences tend to be an easy fix. Simply cut as many words as you can while leaving the meaning intact.
If you want to see the power of brevity in action, look at how these edits improve each sentence:
- “Now’s the Time to Enter for a Chance to Win Our Special Prize!” “Win $100 Today!”
- “A List of Everything You Need to Know About Mortgages and Mortgage Payments” “What You Need to Know about Mortgages, Now”
See the difference? Not only is there enough mystery in the shortened subject lines to encourage people to click through, but they also have a more direct, concise flow.
Before you send off your next round of newsletters or lead-building emails, do what some authors call a “sweat.” Clip off the few unnecessary words and watch how much more powerful your sentences become.
The more clear and direct you are, the stronger your headlines will be. Every time.
Tip #4: Don’t Over-Do-It on the Mystery
“Open up this email and find out how you can….”
The person on the other end is rolling their eyes. Guaranteed.
When generating leads, don’t forget that people have seen some of these tricks before. They know that you’re trying to get them to open the email. And they’re suspicious that you won’t reward them for their efforts.
That’s why you shouldn’t try to be too “coy” with your headlines. Tell them about the benefits now. Make it obvious that opening your email will be for their benefit.
If you play too coy, they’ll start to believe that you don’t really have enough to offer them. And that’s the same as writing an email subject line that, well, sucks.
Today’s email receivers are inundated with spam, tricks, and marketing gags until they’re blue in the face. You’re far more likely to cut through the noise if you aren’t too mysterious. Instead, act like a professional company with something real to offer them.
Think “Your Free Mortgage Calculator: Link Inside” rather than “We Know How to Calculate Your Next Mortgage…”
One is actionable, the other is not.
If you want to start incorporating the tips above into your regular email headlines, it’s time to take action.
Try a free trial of leadPops and see how easy it is to employ these email subject strategies into a profitable web campaign that boosts your leads and results in more people opening your messages.