How to craft the All-Important Subject Line for your next e-mail

by Socialnomics with Suzanne Downing

So, you have a database of e-mails and you are ready to write your e-communication (e-blast). E-mail is similar in context to your website. On your website, the most important element is the first screen. In your e-mail, the subject line is your most important element.

Direct magazine reports that an American leatherware firm sent a marketing e-mail to a mailing list and accidentally left out the body copy. Their e-mail went to their entire list with nothing but the All-Important subject line. Surprise! That specific email generated the largest response rate they ever had. Use these tips to craft your All-Important subject line for your next e-mail. Then test, test, test.

  1. Use the word this in the subject line. Why? Because it is proven to get e-mail recipients to open their e-mail. Example: This is what I was talking about… or This is so powerful because… However, don’t use it in a spam way like This is the best moneymaker in the world. (That is a good way to go directly to a spam folder.)
  2. Use the ellipsis points a.k.a. the three-dot method to create a sense of urgency and incompleteness.
  3. Present an incomplete thought. Use a thought tailored to your audience about a topic of interest. There is a part in all of our brains that dislikes incomplete information and won’t rest until is finds the info it needs to close a topic. Use it wisely, so they reader is engaged, not just clicking in to get the info and then bouncing.

And finally, what not to do…

Although some words are rock for advertising, putting some attention-grabbing words that you would use on your website are some of the very words you should avoid in your email subject line.

Words to avoid in your subject line: Buy, Discount, Free, Maximize, Money Opportunity, New, Power, Powerful Investment, Profit, Sale, Special. These are too commercial. With email, you want to appear friendly and personal.

Yes, these are the magic words advertisers and direct marketers swear by and use in their copy, but not so effective with e-mail. Save those words for print where no spam filter will rip up your page.

So get some killer e-mail headlines written and increase your response rate!

Happy e-mail subject line writing.

Paraphrased from Writing for the Web by Mario Veloso (Excellent book for any writer!)

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.