The subject line of an email is essentially a headline. It gets scanned in a micro-second as the reader decides what in her inbox is worth a closer look.
Considering the ever growing deluge of emails we all receive, hastily scanning our inbox is the only way to maintain a thread of sanity. Naturally, anything that whiffs of hyperbole or a bot is instantly sent to spam folder hell.
In this post, I’ll focus on how to write email subject lines that work for internet marketing in general and internet marketing product launches in particular.
The Only Job of the Subject Line:
When writing an email, it helps to remember that the subject line’s only purpose is to get the recipient to open the email. That’s it. It is NOT the job of the subject line to sell a product, an opt-in, a call-to-action or anything else.
In Internet Marketing, an email, especially a product launch email, may lead a prospect into a sales funnel and ultimately to a sale, but again, the subject line is only the beginning. The process starts with the recipient opening the email for a closer look. That’s the only job of the email subject line…to get the prospect to open the email.
How Long Should a Subject Line Be?
Keep subject lines short, no more than ten words. Anything longer will probably just get cut off anyway. A butchered subject line will almost certainly be ignored. An ideal length is about six words.
Blind and Direct Subject Lines:
There are essentially two types of subject lines: Blind and Direct.
A blind subject line is based on curiosity and usually has a relatively high open rate but fewer sales. This is because a subject line based solely on curiosity does not qualify the prospect. A direct subject line, on the other hand, does qualify the prospect. It may result in fewer opens, but will ultimately generate more sales.
Here’s an example of a blind subject line: “Get Your Money Making Mojo On.” It rouses curiosity but it doesn’t give any specifics about what’s in the email. Although the reader might guess it’s about some sort of money making product.
Compare this with a direct subject line example: “How to Succeed with CPA Marketing.” This pre-qualifies the prospective reader. If he isn’t interested in CPA marketing, he probably won’t open the email. However, if he is interested in CPA marketing, he will probably open it and ultimately follow the links in it to the sales page.
Which is better, the blind subject line or the direct subject line? It depends. Every situation is different. A/B testing is required to know what works best for a specific marketing campaign.
Keep in mind that the blind subject line, while based on curiosity, must still relate to the contents of the email. Otherwise, the reader will feel tricked. Being tricked never feels good. You don’t want that. So, while writing blind, curiosity driven, subject lines can be fun, keep it honest and relevant.
Writing Blind Subject Lines:
Below are links to two free headline generating websites that are a lot of fun. Don’t just churn out something and slap it in the subject line of your email. That’s cheating. Instead, use the results of these headline generators to get your creative juices flowing.
Headline Generator: http://imhv.com/headlinegenerator.php
Another good source of blind subject lines is the emails you receive. If you’re a marketer, or aspire to be one, take a trip through your spam folder and steal the subject lines that catch your attention. Keep these in a swipe file for when you need inspiration. Don’t use these stolen subject lines just as they are. Use them to prime your pump of creativity and dream up even better, juicier and more relevant subject lines for your projects.
“Amateurs borrow, professionals steal.” – John Lennon
Writing Direct Subject Lines:
Direct subject lines follow classic headline theory. While something in the subject line tells the prospective reader what the email is about, such as, make money online, dating, finance, supplements etc. there are well established ways to do this effectively.
One of the most powerful things you can to do to increase the open rate of your emails is to instill your subject line with a bit of personality. Think about it. The two most precious things on the internet are trust and the human touch.
If you’re sending emails as part of a marketing campaign the process will be far more enjoyable and successful when you express your personality and do so with integrity.
With that in mind, a simple, yet highly effective subject line is one that directly states the problem, pain or frustration that is solved or alleviated by the product. For example, if the product is a solution for bad credit, the headline might simply state “How to Have Good Credit in 30 Days.”
Subject Line Power Words:
There are also several powerful words that will increase the effectiveness of a subject line. These are:
Subject Line Spam Flags:
Just as there are powerful words that can increase the success of your email campaign, there are words that will sink it as well. These words are “Spam Flags” that will send your email directly to the spam folder never to bee seen. Unfortunately, as power words are over-used, they may become spam flags. The power word of today might be the spam flag of tomorrow. Ultimately, it’s a good idea test your emails by sending them to different email accounts that have spam filters, just to be sure your baby doesn’t get flagged.
At the time of this writing, here are some known spam flags. DO NOT use these words in your subject line:
- Buy now
- As seen on
- Buy direct
- Meet Singles
- Additional income
- Earn per week
- While you sleep
- Home employment
- Work at home
- Earn extra cash
- Why pay more?
- Pennies a day
Things to Remember When Writing Email Subject Lines:
The subject line of an email is essentially a headline. It gets quickly scanned and has only a split second to catch a prospect’s attention. Keep it short. Six to ten words is perfect.
The job of an email subject line is to get the reader to open the email. That’s all it has to do. Your subject line will succeed if it piques the reader’s curiosity or promises to solve a problem for them.
One of the most powerful things you can to do to increase the open rate of your emails is to instill your subject line with a touch of personality, because the two most precious things on the internet are integrity and the human touch. Your reader wants to know you’re human.