What makes a subject line good?
So what makes for a great subject line? A hook. 🎣
Effective subject lines are hooks that make your recipient want to immediately open.
Next time you craft a subject line, ask yourself, would I be hooked? If the answer is no, keep brainstorming.
Achieving the Hook
Listed below are our top 7 methods for achieving the hook with your subject lines.
1. Pique the Curiosity
Make your reader curious as to what’s inside. Here are a couple of ways you can do this.
- Ask a question that makes them respond with “yes,” or, “I want to know the answer.”
For example, let’s say a supplements company is promoting a new product in an email campaign. A subject line that would pique curiosity could be: “Ready to level up your health and fitness?”
Of course, the response from their audience would be a resounding yes!
- Start telling a story.
Let’s say the supplements company mentioned above had a big product launch event. They’re sending out an email recapping the event. Imagine receiving an email the following day with the subject line: “Last night was insane…” Did that pique your curiosity? How could it not!
It’s the hook to the beginning of a great story– the story of last night.
2. Keep it Real
Email marketing is about building a personal relationship with your audience. It’s the most direct, intimate form of marketing today, which is why it’s survived the test of time.
For this reason, it’s crucial that you keep it real.
Subject lines that sound too spammy or overdone can be an immediate turnoff. One way we can avoid this pitfall is by limiting our use of ALL CAPS and excessive punctuation….!!!!
“FLASH SALE STARTS NOW!”
“BOGO buy one get 2 FREE!?? OMG!”
“Please Read! EXCLUSIVE offer inside!!”
Would you be inclined to open any of these? I wouldn’t… in fact, I would instantly flag them as spam. They sound totally desperate and fake. Yikes!
Remember– the more personal, human, and authentic the subject line, the better.
3. Make an Offer
You make an offer when you tell your recipient what they’ll get if they open your email.
- If your email content is promotional, the subject line is your chance to make an offer. Pitch the promotion!
- If your email contains something for the recipient, like a free course, ebook, or coupon, tell them as much in the subject line!
“Claim Your Signed Copy of J. K. Rowling’s New Book”
“Hullabalooza Recap! *With Pictures*”
“Get 50% - Discount Code Inside”
4. Get Detailed
While you certainly don’t want to give everything away with a wordy subject line, you do want to offer enough detail to capture your recipient’s attention. Don’t be too vague!
For example, which of the following subject lines are you more likely to open?
“50% Off All Jeans Starting NOW!”
5. Create a Sense of Urgency
How often have you scrolled back through your inbox to open old messages you previously disregarded? If you’re like most people, hardly ever. If you pass over an email initially, you’ll likely not be back.
This is where creating a sense of urgency can be a tremendous tool for getting your audience hooked.
Some ways we create urgency are through:
- Time constraints or deadlines. Is that sale you’re promoting year-round? No? Then it’s urgent!
- Limited quantity. Do you have infinite copies of your new book? If not, urge your audience to buy it before it sells out.
- Being honest. Let’s say you’re fundraising for the victims of a natural disaster. The situation is, indeed, urgent. Reflect that in the subject line.
“This can’t wait”
“Grab your copy before it sells out!”
“Urgent: they need clean water this week”
6. Mix it up
Don’t send the same subject line on repeat. Doing this leaves a very impersonal, robotic impression– just the opposite of the human connection we want to create!
Additionally, seeing the same subject line appear in your inbox on repeat creates the antithesis of a hook. It repels. Would you open what appears to be the same email over and over again?
Even if the content inside is similar, coming up with creative new ways to introduce it in the subject line will deliver higher open rates every time.
7. Personalize it
Which subject line would you want to open more?
"Friend, we miss you.”
"%%First Name%%, we miss you.”
The first seems all too stiff, robotic, and inauthentic.
So if you’re going for a personal tone, truly make it personal. Use personalization tokens to autofill things like the recipient’s name whenever possible.
Another example of a personalization token is location. For example, let’s say a traveling Fun Run was advertising to people in their tour destinations. They might write: “Hey %%City%%, are you ready to race?”
8. Offer Exclusivity
A funny thing about us humans… we love to be on the inside. We like to be treated like VIPs, and successful marketers know this all too well.
Even your local grocery store knows it, and makes a point to offer “member-only” sales, coupons, and rewards. It’s silly, but it works!
Examples of hooks that offer exclusivity include:
“Your special members-only gift awaits”
“For our most valued patrons”
“YOU Can Achieve Elite Fitness”
Now that you have a wide range of tools in your toolbox for achieving the hook, it’s time to discuss a few key best practices in part 3 of this tutorial.