Crafting Killer Email Subject Lines

Image of email envelope and pencil.One thing is for sure: You can’t communicate with your contacts if you can’t get them to open your email.

Just because you wrote a message doesn’t mean your recipient opened it. For many people, the subject line is the “moment of truth.” If it doesnt pass the sniff test, it frequently gets tossed in the trash without a second thought. It doesnt just apply to marketing messages, either. People are inundated with so many different message channels they’re much more likely to miss or even disregard the first message that arrives if it doesn’t immediately draw attention.

Fortunately, there are two questions you can ask about every subject line you write to help increase the odds it will get opened.

1. Does this subject indicate the message is useful?

Make it perfectly clear in your subject line what the recipient will gain through the information contained within. “Incredible offer!,” “Check out these homes!,” and “OPEN HOUSE THIS SUNDAY” are all dead in the water. (They’ll probably even get you flagged for the old “direct to spam” filter!)

Instead, prove the message is useful in the subject line. This might send you immediately scrambling through your message looking for the useful nugget of information contained within… which is a really good idea. Why are you communicating with them in the first place?

The point of the message can often be the subject. “Can you stop by this Sunday?” instead of the typical “OPEN HOUSE 11-4!” is a much, much more direct and friendly way to package a useful subject line. Tips, advice, or article headlines can also be useful. If you’re sharing an article from a website, simply use the headline as the subject. (It even saves you from writing your own.)

2. Does this subject generate curiosity?

Entertain, amuse, and astonish. Three rules to remember when it comes to stoking curiosity. While some subjects can sound unprofessional if they’re too salacious or reek of infomercial pitches, direct mail copywriters have known this trick for ages.

For that same open house, you might use a subject line like: “What does 123 Main St. look like inside, anyway?”

While this particular line may be a bit long, approaches such as, “The Top 5 Investments in 2013,” “How they stopped foreclosure,” and “A home makeover you won’t believe” are all more likely to get opened than “Investment properties inside!,” “I am your short sale expert!,” and “Staging your home…”

And finally: Recognize when the entire message can be the subject line. If you can fit your entire question or message in the subject line, do it. This is especially true if you absolutely need a response fast.

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