Here are 5 surefire ways to write subject lines that will get your subscribers to actually
OPEN your emails!
Hi guys, it’s Alex and in this video, I’ll be sharing my 5 tips for copywriting
compelling email subject lines.
Now, I’ve spoken about the importance of your headlines before.
Headlines are strategically written, attention-grabbing statements with the sole purpose of getting
your reader to engage with you – to either click an ad, continue reading your sales message...
or yes, even watch your YouTube video.
They are the VERY first thing your prospect reads.
So, yes, you guessed it, subject lines are essentially the HEADLINES of your email marketing...
But to nail a compelling email subject line that stands out among a sea of other emails...
and gets your subscribers to open and actually READ your message?
Now, that’s a tall mission.
A great subject line needs to communicate the promise of value.
It needs to tell your subscribers that what’s inside will benefit them...
And it needs to build trust.
And it needs to do it all in just a few short words.
Which is why your subject line is the single most important element of your email, and should
never be an afterthought.
It is the pickup line, if you will.
The page turner.
That split-second first impression you give the crowd as you make your entrance at a party
that determines how the rest of your night will go.
You get the idea.
And if you’re a copywriter like me, I’m sure
you have noticed some pretty impressive subject lines in your inbox that really made you go
and click open.
There are dozens of creative tactics floating around out there for writing a compelling
subject line, but in this email marketing tutorial I’m showing you my fave five – the
go-to subject-line writing rules that I’ve seen work time and time again for boosting
open rates and building long-term trust with your subscribers.
Now, before I dive in, be sure to hit the subscribe button below this video so you don’t
miss any more marketing and copywriting tips from me.
Every single week, I release a new video where I share the secrets I’ve learned from working
with some of the most amazing brands across the world since starting my copywriting business
8 years ago.
Which brings me to a couple of important disclaimers: when writing subject lines, make sure they
align with the brand voice you’re writing for.
Different audiences will respond to different styles and languages, so it’s critical that
you take that into account in your email marketing.
I once used “WTF” in an email subject line
for a client and, lets just say it didn’t go over well.
And I gave the poor customer support team quite the headache to deal with.
Also, keep yourself up to date with the latest keywords and phrases that may trigger
the spam police.
Spam accounts for a shocking 48% of email worldwide, and spam filters are getting tighter
and tighter, especially in Gmail. The last thing you want is to have an email that
you spent hours working on end up in the junk folder!
Because it doesn’t matter how good your email is if no one is reading it!
Keeping deliverability rates high is one of the greatest challenges email marketers and
copywriters are facing today.
So stay tuned, because in the very near future, I’ll be releasing another video on how to
increase your chances of your emails actually being seen.
Ok, now that we got that out of the way, lets dive into my 5 tips for writing compelling
email subject lines.
Ah yes, probably the oldest trick in the sales book...
And that’s because creating urgency is an undeniable way to compel
customers to take action.
It works for the very simple psychological reason that people HATE missing out.
Urgency implies that there is a short-window of time for someone to act – increasing
the likelihood that they will.
We are inherent procrastinators and, if given the choice, we’ll always choose to put
things off until later.
That is, unless it’s urgent and FOMO is at play.
Now listen, I’m not here to encourage you to replicate some salesy infomercial
from the past.
The idea here is to apply urgency in a creative and authentic way, that truly provides value
to your subscribers.
For example, you can be specific about an upcoming deadline and the benefits they’ll
receive by acting now and not later.
Communicating scarcity and urgency is an easy way to boost those open rates, but be careful
not to rely on these tactics too often.
Only use them when the occasion genuinely calls for immediate action, or else you’re
gonna look like the brand who cried wolf!
Ok so now on to our second tip.
Can you guess what it is? You open your inbox and see the subject line….
Who doesn’t love a bit of mystery?
You want it in your new relationships, at the end of your Netflix season finales, and yes — even
in your inbox.
Using mystery in your subject line creates an open loop, which triggers a strong urge
in your subscribers' minds to fill that gap of missing information.
A great way to do this is to use a cliffhanger.
Another creative way to pique curiosity is to ask your subscribers a question or promise
them something interesting inside, and don’t be afraid to sound a little bit strange or unusual.
For example this subject line from Refinery29...
Or this one from Kate Spade…
Or this one I wrote for Numerologist.com…
One thing to keep in mind is to not be too mysterious to the point of obscurity!
And of course make sure that your email does provide information and closure, or else your
subscribers will feel betrayed and you’ll lose their trust.
So, I’m curious to know, what are some of the best subject lines you’ve seen
hit your inbox lately?
Comment below and let me know!
Alright, moving on to tip #3.
This is a little more “risque” than the
rest... but if your brand has a personality that isn’t afraid to push the envelope,
or question the norm — by all means, be bold!
Today’s audiences are expecting more authenticity and personality from brands they subscribe
So sometimes it actually helps to use controversy to polarize your audience… as I like to
Here’s a powerful subject line used by LinkedIn over Thanksgiving:
My first reaction?
Whoa — that’s a strong statement.
I better click to make sure I’m not one of those people!
Sure, LinkedIn may have seemed a little judgy with that subject line, but here’s why
it totally worked:
First, while it was polarizing, they weren’t actually selling anything on Black Friday,
so they weren’t at the risk of calling THEIR customers the worst in that moment.
Second, it was a highly relevant subject line given the time of year and it likely resonated
with a wide majority of their audience when it came to the madness of holiday shopping.
And lastly, the email led to a well-researched article with the same title, which meant the
controversy also had some consistency and credibility backing it up.
It wasn’t just a play to get more clicks.
So, while controversy is indeed a powerful weapon, this is all depends on the audience
you’re speaking to.
So don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers, but do be mindful and make sure you’re still
honoring the brand voice.
If you think a subject line doesn’t give you enough time and space to pack an emotional
punch — think again.
One of the best ways to engage email subscribers is to connect with them emotionally.
You don’t necessarily have to leave them tearing up or jumping for joy, but eliciting
emotional resonance in your language, even in the simplest of ways, is incredibly powerful.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through personalization, such as adding the reader’s
first name to a subject line.
Ironically, even though we all know it's nothing but an automated input in marketing
emails, it still works.
According to Optin Monster, addressing subscribers by their first names in the subject line can
boost open rates by 10-14%...
I know I’m more likely to click on a email that says...
Compared to just "You forgot these items in your cart."
And keep in mind that personalization is becoming more and more expected in marketing, and this
extends far past the subject lines.
Marketing is no longer about spraying ONE marketing message all over the internet to
The future of effective email marketing will be sending behaviour-based emails in REAL
TIME to your subscribers, based on their specific actions, interests and engagement habits.
So for example, if you know that the majority of your subscribers open your emails on mobile,
use a subject line that creates a link between your email content and the activity or situation
that your subscribers is most likely in and can identify with immediately.
Like this subject line from UNICEF...
Now that is one powerful subject line.
Smart segmentation of your email list is imperative and increasing personalization in your messaging
across all channels can lead to a massive 500% increase in consumer spending.
Another great way to create emotional resonance in your subject lines is to speak to your
reader’s hopes, fantasies, and dreams through future pacing.
Or, in other words, helping your audience visualize what could be possible for them
in the very near future in just a few words. For example...
I love both of those subject lines.
And now we're down to number 5 on the list...
Sometimes, simple and straightforward does the job best.
There’s a good chance that you’re sending emails to a ton of subscribers who have
inboxes filled to the brim with countless other messages from colleagues, companies and
family members vying for their attention.
So, how do you increase your chances of YOUR email getting read first, instead of the others?
The answer? Cut to the chase!
Give them the what, who, how, and where right off the bat!
This is even more important if you’re sending them a product or information that’s essential
to their customer experience.
There's no strategy involved, it just gets the job done and these sort of emails create trust
with your audience.
They’re not fancy, they’re practical.
Ok there you have it, five of my favorite ways to write a compelling subject line.
Now, of course I'm not suggesting you cram all of these tips into ONE subject line.
The goal is to first determine the type of email you’re sending and choose the method that works best.
Then use a mix of these different tactics throughout your marketing campaigns and newsletters.
And please remember the #1 rule is to always focus on adding value first.
Clickbaity subject lines might boost open rates in the short term but will only hurt your conversions long term.
Give me a thumbs up below if you found this video helpful..
And next up, be sure to catch my videos on how to write HOT headlines and the 4 Types of Scarcity
you should be using in your marketing.
You can watch those here and here.
And, be sure to subscribe to catch my video next week.
Till then, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!