email-subject-linesEmail subject lines… sounds like it’s going to be a super ‘sexy’ blog, huh?  Joking aside email subject lines are like the holy grail of high open rates. 

Your audience, even though they willfully subscribed, are very busy… and very hard to please.  The subject line is like the ‘inbox gatekeeper’… if it’s good, you’re in… if it sucks, no dice.  Think of them like one of those stout, Buckingham Palace guards holding down the fort.  Bad subject line means ‘no entry’ amigo. 🙂

I’m certain we’ve all received an email with a bad subject line or one of those emails that you IMMEDIATELY delete because it looks super boring, spammy or just dumb, right?  

So what’s an entrepreneur to do, you ask?  How do we get past these ‘inbox gatekeepers’, connect with our audience and ensure the hard work we put into that email pays off?  Well get to that in just one second, I promise.  But first I just want to highlight the top 3 words/phrases that will ensure your email gets hit with that big black X (delete :)).

Email Subject Line Killer #1

The first ‘bad email subject line word’ on our list is an oldie but a real open rate killer; Newsletter.  Yup, you read it right.  Just like asking people to opt-in for your ‘newsletter’ is a surefire way to get ZERO subscribers…  The word ‘newsletter’ is the absolute worst word to use in your email subject line… For the same reason.

Your subscribers see that and immediately think, ‘wow, who cares about your ‘news’… just more crap to waste my time.  Mean?  Maybe.  True?  Absolutely!!  People are busy and as they scroll through an inbox with 600 messages the ones that make promise of a ‘newsletter’ are sure to get deleted.

Email Subject Line Killer #2

The second worst word/phrase on our list is; Help.  Sounds kind of funny, right?  I mean that is a pretty simple word and actually one that seem to stir at least an open.  But here’s why it makes our list.  As mentioned above people are busy, real busy and so they are constantly tuned in to “WIIFM Radio”… “What’s in it for me”.  So when your email is asking for “help” this just translates into work for them and yes, you guessed it the big black X comes to the rescue (delete :)).

Email Subject Line Killer #3

And last, but definitely not least on our list here (we’re only naming three here.  There are actually tons more that should be here but we’re keeping it pithy) is the phrase; “open me”.  Ohhhhh… this is one is bad for so many reasons but the first has to do with the above mentioned radio station, remember it?  “WIIFM”!

“Open me” just screams at me from the inbox, “Don’t waste your time.  I’m only in this FOR me. I’m desperate for your attention, and I’m not bringing anything to the table for YOU.  I want you to want me.”  So this one is just another that will ensure your email hits the trash before they can even finish the subject line.

The above examples of bad “email subject line” words and phrases all carry one common thread.  Maybe you noticed that thread by now, maybe you didn’t.  But the thread is that each of these carries the connotation that only ONE person benefits from this email; the sender.  And that is exactly why they are our top open rate killers.

What To Do About It…

So now let’s look at the top two things you can do to spruce up your email subject lines and increase your open rates.

The number one thing you can do is to personalize your subject line.  Ohhhh… did you just think to yourself, “Cool I already do that”?  Well sorry to break it to you but just using a first name is getting pretty common and played out so we have to get a little more creative with this one.  So when personalizing your email subject line, here are a few things you can test:

  • Use first AND last name: it might be a little common but it’s definitely worth trying.
  • Change the details in the subject line based on the recipient’s location: seasons (fall vs. summer) as well as holidays in different regions or countries.
  • Use details of the actions the customer has taken: what has the customer been doing on your website? What did they opt-in for?  What are their favorite products or what features are they yet to use?

The second thing you can and really MUST be doing is testing.  Robin and I are huge believers of testing & measuring (we drill it into our clients heads from day one, always measure… everything).  Continued testing, measuring & tweaking in your email subject lines, as well as all of your marketing is the only real way to guarantee success and continued results.  Test the wording, test the phraseology and let the numbers rule.  Always let the numbers rule!! 

Writing email subject lines can be rough, trust me we know.  So Robin and I put together this awesome FREE resource, “Hot Words That Work It – Create High Converting Headlines, Taglines & Copy in Just Minutes”.  Just enter your name and email below for instant access to this free resource.

Hot Words That Work It

Sizzling Words & Phrases
For Hot Selling Copy



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