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Crafting an Irresistible Email Subject Line

By Aug 07, 2012

Subject lines are one of the most overlooked aspects in email marketing. Business owners will spend endless hours reviewing the copy or the graphics of the email body and then rush it out without so much as a glance at the subject line.

The reality is that the subject line is one of the top reasons spam filters block email messages. That pesky little line is what will make a prospect click delete before even opening the message a marketer spent countless hours crafting. While the subject line may be small, challenge yourself to think of it as a killer headline.

A headline on a sales letter or blog post may be rewritten a dozen times before going to production. Take the same consideration for your subject lines each time you send an email and watch the difference in your response rate.

Avoid Overused Spam Words
There's no doubt spam filters have become more advanced. With the average person receiving over 105 emails per day, additional messages that aren't relevant will be blocked, and software will continue to advance to only allow the best emails through.

Even though your emails are legitimate, the content of your messages will be scrutinized before they ever reach your prospect. To ensure you do reach your next customer, consider avoiding common words and phrases that spam filters don't like. Words like "free" or "lowest price" could make it tough for your message to break through.

Be Different…in the Smallest of Details
Just because email makes it easy to communicate doesn't mean it has to be boring. As a quick test, open your email inbox right now and look at the email subject lines.

Which subject lines make you actually want to open the email?

Likely very few of the email subjects will grab your attention.  The overuse of exclamation points and capitalization makes most inboxes a maze where the machete is the delete key. To grab the attention of your prospects, you must be different.

One of the easiest ways to be different in your subject line is to make all of the letters lower case. Look again at your inbox and see how many of them are entirely lower case.  By starting off the first word as lower case you are already starting to stand out from the crowd!

Pique Interest to Make People Want to Find Out More
To pique the interest of your prospects, challenge yourself to think differently about what you are communicating. Think of the subject line as a headline or even the beginning of a conversation.

Most people would write subject lines like:
"The End of Season Savings Event is Happening Now"
 "Top 10 Reasons to Attend X Event"

These subject lines are just plain boring and unless a prospect really trusts you, they won't get opened. Consider transforming your messages to be so different that people will have to click to find out more.

The above subject lines could certainly be changed to the following:
"an end of season event that will make your friends jealous"
"avoid 12 months of regret, discover more about X event"

The more interest piquing your messages, the more your prospect can't resist opening the email. When the subject is too boring you never get a chance to share more information. Be bold to pique interest and watch your open rates soar.

Look at Your Entire Sequence of Subject Lines
Although each email subject exists on its own you should hopefully be sending more than one email to a prospect. Over a period of year, you might send a prospect anywhere from 30 to even 100 emails (or more) depending on your niche. Not every email can be "greatest sale ever" or "new products in stock now" messages.

Whether you are using a big CRM or a smaller auto responder service, look at all of your emails that you have planned to send a prospect. As you look at all of the email subject lines that you are going to send over the next year, ask yourself the following questions:

•    How many emails add value to my prospects life?
•    How many emails truly pique interest?
•    How many emails are asking them to buy something?
•    How many emails would I delete if I didn't have a passion for my product/service?

Each email subject line has a chance to add value, pique interest, and yes, sell product. Having the right mix of messages that add value (therefore making it very easy for a prospect to open your message) and ones that sell ensure you have the highest open rate possible.

Crafting the right subject line isn't a task that is going to take three minutes. Every time you write an email subject line you are doing far more than just spreading the word about your "brand." The right email subjects give you an opportunity to break through the haze of messages and reach your next customer. Before you send that next message take a moment and see if it really does pique interest, if it would stand out in a crowd of 104 other messages and when you can answer "yes it does" then you are on the right path to success with email.

Todd Bates is president of Todd Bates Systems.