Selling Skills

3 Tips to Create the Perfect Subject Line

After investing way too much money in her new website, a colleague wrote seeking my advice. She plans, she said, to “send out thousands of emails and other communications with one mission – get readers to look at the new site” and she wondered what the subject line should be to capture attention.

Sound like a familiar problem?

She went on to explain that her “response rate on emails is very very low and I think it may have to do with my simple subject lines such as “Hello from Sophie*.” (Of course, Sophie isn’t her name. If you read my blog at all, you already know who Sophie is ;-))

And more, “But everywhere I look to find ways to improve I find slick and spammy answers like “Sophie has a secret for you.” or “Please don’t open this email.” She asks, “Can you point me in the right direction?”

Yes. I can. But first, please consider this: It’s not just the subject line. In fact, eye tracker research shows that readers look at the email address of the sender just before looking at the subject line (which shows how smart we are: we don’t want to trash an email from someone important just because they wrote a meaningless or cheesy subject line.)

Readers read like this:
•Return address
•Subject line
•Preview (first 7 – 17 words)
•”Above the fold” (what they can see without scrolling)
•Entire email

Even if you pass the address/subject line test, your first sentence has to be compelling too or …. delete.

But I digress.

The subject line has to be:
1. Authentic (which immediately eliminates Sophie has a secret for you and Please don’t open this email. Ewwwww! Slimy!)
2. Relevant = meaningful to the reader (which immediately eliminatesHello from Sophie!
3. Purposeful – it must accurately summarize the email

Let’s say you write an email about asking for email advice. Would you use a subject line like:
Hello from Sophie?
Please don’t open this email?
Exciting news from Sophie?

Ridiculous, of course. The email writer (the person asking for my advice) used a perfect subject line:
Your email advice please

TheMarketingHeaven is exactly what she should do with her subject line for her marketing messages. Use something that is truthful, focused and descriptive.

Just like women’s clothing, there is no such thing as “one subject line fits all” and naturally will depend on the email content. Here are suggestions for you to think about:
•New website to use when looking for a speaker (Yes, this is long and all of it won’t show on a mobile device which could be a challenge)
•Speaker details for your consideration
•Website update: Energize your team with Sophie Speaker
•Action request: May I phone you Friday? (because I can’t believe that all she really wants is for her email recipients to simply look at her site; I think she wants to follow-up with them, too)

Here is my truth: The best way to ensure your subject line works is to know something about the person who is receiving it.The more you target your message to his or her needs, the more likely it is that your subject line – and email – will work for you.

Your views?

Which subject line would you select?

What subject lines do you recommend? Please share your wisdom.