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Writing Your Email Subject Line

Write EmailThe Purpose of Your Subject Line

You get a lot of email yourself, don’t you?

What is the first thing that you look at when you receive and mail in your own inbox? The first information that you want is to know who the email is from, right? That’s what most people look at first. The second bit of information that you look at is the subject line. The subject line is the determining factor of whether an email is opened and read or whether it is simply deleted unopened and unread. You must always consider the importance of your subject line when you send marketing emails to the members of your list.

Everyday thousands of affiliate marketers send marketing email to the members of their opt-in lists that are simply deleted without ever being opened, read or acted upon. Those emails are completely useless. The purpose of the subject line is to entice the recipient into actually opening, reading and acting on the information in the email so you should never discount the importance of those few words. Some magic subject line words are ‘free gift’ ‘take the quiz’ and ‘test your knowledge’.

You’ve probably been told that the word ‘free’ is ineffective, but it isn’t. People like ‘free’. Often times the subject line of a marketing email is just thrown in at the last minute without much thought being given to it but that is a big mistake. Much thought should be put into those 50 words. Those 50 words are the ones that will determine whether the other 3 or 4 hundred are read or not. Testing the effectiveness of variations of a subject line on small segments of your opt-in list is a wise thing to do. You can determine which variation is the most effective one and actually produces the desired results.

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! Unfortunatly 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 marketing emails.

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 suject 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 quesion, ‘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 enviornmentaly 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 pure genius. 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 buisness 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 fouth reason it is to good is because it is short.

Short is a very good thing.

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 to.
  4. Have a tease quality. Remember ‘curiosity’ is a common human trait.
  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 requirements.

All The Best!
Zai Adi

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2 Responses to Writing Your Email Subject Line

  1. Kevin January 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I sometimes ask myself how I would sort all my emails if I weren’t an internet marketer myself. I mean, I just don’t remember what I considered to be spam and what didn’t before starting in this business. With that said, I think the average person might comb through their emails a little more than I do, since I already know most of the emails in my inbox are nothing more than some cheap sales pitch. I just think it’s important to understand the mindset of an average person before I can come up with an effective email subject line.

    • Zai Adi January 17, 2013 at 12:18 am #

      Hi Kevin,

      Yes that is so true. Even as marketers who like to promote all sorts of things to their lists, they must always remember that they are emailing to REAL people, not robots. Real people have feelings and they don’t like to be taken advantage of.

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