It was late, and I was still finishing up an email sequence for a client. I should have been nodding off, in danger of falling asleep at the keyboard. Instead, I was giggling quietly to myself as I wrote email subject lines. #easilyamused
I love writing email subject lines. It’s my version of saving the best for last.
Not only is it my favorite part of the whole email-writing process, but I like to think of it as a personal challenge. I spend a lot of time mulling over what will be so irresistible the recipient can’t NOT click.
Average email open rates hang out in the 20–30% range. But the more people who open your emails and take action, the better, right?
So how do I do it? How do I create email subject lines that stop the inbox scroll and get people to click?
I have two favorite strategies I use when writing email subject lines. Hang on, because I’m going to tell you what they are and how you can use them for yourself.
But first, let’s talk about what most people do and why it doesn’t work.
The first thing a recipient sees is the email subject line. If that doesn’t catch their attention right away, the reader will just keep scrolling by.
But if no one opens my emails and reads them, how will they know what I want to tell them.
I get it. It’s a scary thought.
The temptation is to spill exactly what the email contains in the subject line. Give them the facts, just the facts, and nothing but the facts.
Yeah … when it comes to email marketing, I hardly ever use summary statements as email subject lines. In fact, there are only two conditions under which I use the “just the facts” approach in email subject lines.
- When there’s a deliverable in the email. If someone has taken some kind of action already and are waiting on something from you, make sure the email subject line is clear and straightforward. “The Link To Your FREE Guide Is Inside” or “Thanks For Joining The Community. Here’s How To Get Started” are great examples of clearly presenting what they’ve already opted in for.
- When the target audience is in a very serious industry. Not every industry can handle super creative email subject lines. There are certain industries where a more direct approach is preferred, like corporate. Research your target audience. If straightforward works best, then by all means, stick with what works.
Let’s just assume for the time being that we’re not talking about emails with deliverables or serious industries. Let’s assume we’re talking about your run-of-the-mill sales nurturing sequences. There are two strategies I use that greatly improve my clients’ email open rates. The Unexpected Truth Bomb and The Open Loop.
The Unexpected Truth Bomb
The client I was writing for last night markets to med spas that offer Botox as a treatment. The objective of the emails I was working on is to encourage people to call and book an appointment for a free consultation.
Botox tends to get a bad rap, and a common misconception about Botox is that if you get Botox, you won’t be able to move your forehead and your face will look frozen.
The reality is, that’s not true, and the email I was working on broke down all the reasons why.
But before the audience will ever read those reasons, we needed to get them to click and open the email. Enter the power of the Unexpected Truth Bomb subject line:
Some things should be immovable. Your face isn’t one of them.
Unexpected Truth Bomb for the WIN!
Let’s go there, right? Let’s just let the elephant in the room speak up. This is a common misconception about Botox, and the subject line calls it out. When the reader sees it, it will resonate. It’s going to strike them as funny — and brave.
The Open Loop
My other favorite strategy for getting recipients to open emails subject line is The Open Loop.
What’s an open loop? Well, first let’s talk about what a closed loop is. A closed loop is where you give the whole farm away in the subject line of the email — question raised and answered all in one fell swoop. In the case of my med spa client’s email, a closed loop subject line might look something like this:
Botox done right looks completely natural.
No mystery there, right? Why even click — I just told the recipient the entire point of the email. Why would they read it if they already know what I’m going to tell them?
If you leave the loop open, however, it creates the desire to know more. What if instead, my subject line was this:
Your face should never look like this.
Immediately the reader gets curious. Look like what? What shouldn’t my face look like? Does my face look like that right now? They’re compelled to click to find out the answer to their questions, which you can give them in the body of the email.
Just remember, if there’s one thing people DON’T like, it’s not being able to close the loop. If you DON’T close the loop in the body of the email, they will lose trust in you. Once trust is lost, you’ll have to work twice as hard to restore it.
But Does It Work?
You tell me. Go to your inbox and read subjects lines. Notice which emails you opened and which you didn’t. I’m willing to guess you opened:
- Emails from people you already know, like, and trust (because they’ve already put the work in to connect with and nurture you).
- Emails with subject lines that made you click.
These two strategies work.
And these two strategies don’t just apply to email subject lines. You can try these strategies to hook readers in the first couple lines of Facebook ad copy, blog articles, social media posts, and more.
So remember if you’re struggling to know what subject lines to use for your emails, don’t fall back on the old standard “tell them what the email says” strategy.
Try using an Unexpected Truth Bomb or Open Loop subject line, then drop value like crazy in the body of the email.
Want to learn how to optimize all your copy? Grab my free worksheet on the 8 Must-Ask Questions For Copy That Converts.