What Makes an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line?
Is there a magic formula for creating a subject line that is so
attention-grabbing that it will guarantee that recipients will
open your marketing email every time?
It would be nice! Unfortunately there is not a magic formula.
There are, however, some techniques that you can use that
will help you create attention-getting subject lines for your
Technique #1: Prepare to compete.
The first and most important piece of information that you
need to have permanently implanted in your brain is that
you are not sending email to email addresses. You are
sending email to real, live human beings.
These humans that will receive your email are much like
yourself. They all are busy people who weren’t sitting there
with baited breath waiting for your marketing email
message to arrive in their empty inboxes.
No. Their inboxes overflow at the same rate that yours does.
If you want them to open and read your marketing email,
your subject line is going to have to complete with dozens or
even hundreds of other emails for their attention.
Technique #2: Answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question.
You’ve got 50 words, tops, to answer that question. You must
give the recipients of your marketing emails a very good and
substantial reason for taking their valuable time to see what
it is that you have to say to them in your marketing email.
Think about subject lines that get your attention. All of the
subject lines that grab your attention and entice you to open
an email are the ones that promise to help you in some way.
They answer the question, ‘what’s in it for me’ and they do it
in the 50 subject line words.
Technique #3: Don’t promise more than you can deliver.
Don’t be overly zealous in your subject line. You can’t deliver
world peace, so don’t make a promise that you can’t keep.
Keep it real. Keep it on point.
Technique #4: Study newspaper headlines.
Newspapers have headline writing down to a fine art. Pick
up your local newspaper and note how headlines are written.
Pay attention to the ones that grab your attention.
You will note that all newspaper headlines state the most
important point of the topic and do so in the fewest possible
words. A newspaper headline and the subject line of your
marketing emails are kissing cousins.
The object of your
marketing email is to state the content of your email in the
fewest possible words and hit the most important part of the
information that your email provides.
Technique #5: Don’t practice recycling.
That may not sound very environmentally friendly but we
aren’t talking about plastics or paper; we are talking about
marketing email subject lines.
Just because a subject line that you used last month was
effective, it doesn’t mean that you can simply change a word
or two and recycle it.
Language is a fluid…it is not a solid. The buzz words that
were hot last month are this month’s flat liners. Keep your
subject lines fresh.
Technique #6: Test! Test! Test!
The way to always outdo your competition is to take the time
and put forth the added effort to test your subject lines.
It will serve you well when you begin an email marketing
campaign to add an additional day or so to your time table
that will allow you to test your subject lines for effectiveness.
Send two or three variations of your subject line to selected
members of your opt-in list. Long onto your auto responder
account and see which ones have the best open rate.
Examples of Powerful Subject Lines that Work
Do you remember the virus that went around through email
several years ago? The subject line was, “I love you”. People
simply could not resist.
They opened the email even though they did not recognize
the sender and, presto, their computers were infected. The
sending of the email was deplorable but the subject line was
We all hate those kinds of emails and fortunately today’s
anti-virus programs catch and dispose of most of them
before they ever appear in our inboxes. However, we can
learn a lot from them.
The very best subject lines are the ones that make a recipient
feel that if they don’t open and read the email they will be
missing something vital. They should feel like that if they
don’t open and read an email message from you that they
will be missing out on something really important and may
even be ‘out-of-the-loop’.
Curiosity is a strong and powerful human trait that email
marketers need to use to make their marketing emails pass
the ‘must-open, must-read’ test.
The other very human trait that affiliate marketers need to
understand and use is ‘me’. The recipients of marketing
emails that you send want you to answer one very important
question. That question is the age old, ‘What’s in it for me?”
The key word is ‘me’.
Let’s say that you are marketing tax software. What kind of
subject line would you write?
“Don’t miss out! We are getting down to the business of tax.
Learn how to save money on your taxes today. A special $10
offer is included.”
Yuck! That is a terrible subject line.
The first thing that is wrong with it is that it is vague. The
second thing that is wrong with it is that it doesn’t clearly
state what the email marketing message is. The third thing
that is wrong with it is that it doesn’t tease the recipient. The
fourth thing that is wrong with it is that the word business is
misspelled. The fifth thing that is wrong with it is that it is
far too long even though it is well under the 50 word limit.
Result: That subject line would quickly get the email deleted
rather than opened and read!
So what would be a good subject line, you ask?
“Tax Relief and a $10 special offer!”
I don’t know about you, but I’d open one that promised me
some tax relief and a bonus to boot!
The first reason that this subject line is good is because the
very first word is an attention-getter. Everybody is concerned
about taxes. The second reason that it is so good is that it is
aimed directly at the recipient. The third reason it is so good
is that it makes an offer of something for nothing. The fourth
reason it is to good is because it is short. Short is a very good
You have 50 words you can use in your subject line but the
ones that come after the 25th one are mostly useless.
Examples of good subject lines are ones that are:
1. Brief….and the shorter the better.
2. Direct. Use the most important word first.
3. Ask a question that the reader wants to know the answer
4. Have a tease quality. Remember ‘curiosity’ is a common
5. Tie into current events. In the example above, the email
would tie into tax season.
It is common practice to stick a subject line on a marketing
email almost as an after thought. The best practice is to start
with a subject line that will meet all of the above listed