We all know that the subject line is critical to getting your message opened, especially when the recipient doesn’t know you. Readers determine if they’ll read first by checking the email address to identify the sender, then they read the subject line to see if that resonates for them. If your email passes so far, they/we read the first lines – a preview – of the email to make sure we aren’t wasting our time with spam or something that may simply be a time-sucker.
Most people have no clue what makes a great subject line and spammers don’t help the matter. As soon as they figure out what entices people to open email messages, they use that strategy in their subject lines ad naseum and we learn not to open emails that use that strategy (remember when using the reader’s name in the subject line was a great way to gain attention? How about using a “thought-provoking” question? Those and more “strategies” have been exploited by spammers and no longer work for business to business messaging.)
So what can you do to write the best subject line ever? Start by reading How to Write a Killer Headline and Make Your Post Shine because just as a blog post needs to catch attention, so does an email.
Numbers 3, 4 and 5 from that post (Shrink it [eliminate unnecessary words],Summarize [ensure the subject line is an authentic summary of the email message] and Make Your Readers Curious [pique their interest] offer particularly excellent advice.
Here are 3 more tips specifically for best ever subject lines:
1. Don’t sell. Tell.
No one likes to be sold to and everyone likes to buy the best product (best doesn’t mean most expensive; it means best for their needs). Start selling in your subject line and you can feel confident that your email will not be read unless you happen to catch the person on the exact day, time and moment that they need to buy what you are selling.
2. I wanna talk about me.
Remember that annoying but true Toby Keith song from a couple years ago:
“…You know talking about you makes me smile
But every once in awhile
I wanna talk about me
Wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see…”
Exactly! Make sure your subject line talks about what matters to them. That means keep your product name out of the subject line unless it will specifically help your buyer. (If they sent an RFP for a meeting at your hotel, your subject line could say: Confirming Availability at ABC Resort – Nov 12 – 14.)
There are few more annoying things than trying to locate a message about a particular topic but the same subject line has been used for 10 emails. Save yourself and your reader time by changing the subject line every time the subject changes. The subject should be an accurate reflection of the subject of the email the person is reading – not one they read about 10 days earlier.
What else do you suggest to write the best subject line ever?