21 awesome email subject lines that work

Email marketing is not dead!

BUT, given the amount of email that the average person receives each day, it’s hard to make a positive impression on that inbox that gets results.

Email marketing is about one thing: engagement.

It’s hard enough to get people to read your email when it’s in their inbox, but what if it doesn’t even make it past the spam folder? Some email service providers such as Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, use an ‘engagement score’ to decide whether your email will get beyond the gate keeper or not.

The metrics used for the engagement score are:

  • open rates (obviously the more opens the better)
  • lateral scroll rates (the further people scroll, the better it is for your score because the assumption is they’re reading it!)
  • hard and soft bounce rates (the fewer hard bounces, where the email address doesn’t exist and soft bounces where the email inbox is full, the higher your engagement score.
  • complaints and unsubscribes (you need to reduce these babies as much as possible!)

One of the best ways to get a good engagement score is to write fabulous, enticing headlines that peak the interest of your people. You can kiss the other metrics goodbye if your email doesn’t even get opened!

So that leads me to subject lines.

In my experience, all successful email subject lines fall into one of these four categories:

  1. Urgency, necessity, scarcity – the need is communicated immediately for fear of missing out
  2. Curiosity, mystery, teasing – no direct benefit stated, but mystery often increases open rates
  3. Benefit driven – the benefit of opening the email is clearly stated
  4. Proof or Credibility – results are leveraged to build credibility

Trial and error is often the only true way to test what works with your particular audience and database. And of course what works one time may not always work, for whatever reason. What I do know however, is that there are some really good generic subject lines that can be used either verbatim, or tweaked just slightly to suit your crowd.

Once you get your emails opened, more than half the battle is won! Then you just have to wow them with ridiculously good copy and amazing offers! (But that’s another blog post or two…)

For now, here are some fantastic, PROVEN, subject lines that will increase the chance of your emails being opened.

  1. OOPS… I forgot to tell you….
  2. You’re going to miss this…?
  3. Not long now…
  4. Ok, you’re all set to go
  5. Only 12 hours left…
  6. Here’s the details you wanted…
  7. Have you read it yet?
  8. Now open for business
  9. Don’t do this unless you’re really ready
  10. I’ve decided to quit.
  11. Important announcement
  12. Hey [insert name]
  13. Use my top 5 tips for your own benefit
  14. Important – date change
  15. Need my help?
  16. Can you help me please?
  17. You’ve been selected to…
  18. Urgent: This is not a test
  19. Last chance to be a VIP
  20. This week’s top 10 [insert things you offer]
  21. Today only: 30% off [X]

There are lots of ‘tricks’ to email marketing and plenty of proven methods. The honest truth is that the game keeps changing, and everyone’s audience is different, so you will just have to keep at it and try out different things to see what resonates.

Your database list is a powerful tool, one that shouldn’t be forgotten in the era of social likes, fans, and followers. If Facebook closed down tomorrow, would you have any way of contacting those fans? Would you be able to gather those names in an instant? Would you actually have a business left? It’s always good to keep your own database humming along, nice and warm with valuable offers and guidance on a regular basis. They’re yours, they’ve opted in and you can communicate with them regardless of Zuckerberg.

Happy writing and enjoy the headline testing!

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