You're walking down the high street and Saturday shoppers flow past and around you. Who catches your eye? Is it the family in the sensible rain coats? The boys in uniform baseball caps? The men in suits? The middle aged women in well-cut clothes? Not particularly.
The people who catch your eye are the ones that stand out……. to you.
Dionne quintuplets first birthday 1935
That might be the women showing lots of flesh.
The men with the shades and expensive shoes
The girl with the orange hair
The man in a gorilla suit
These figures that stand out are the ones that arouse your curiosity. Either they are unusual or they tap into your current desires.
What is the subject line?
As the name suggests, it gives the reader a clue about what's inside. If what's inside appeals to them they are more likely to open it.
If you think of snail mail, envelopes give you clues about the contents.
Brown envelopes = boring stuff like bills
Pink envelopes = exciting stuff like love letters
Envelopes with windows = letters from the insurance companies
Envelopes big writing and exclamation marks across the corner = sales stuff
Heavy white envelopes = legal documents
Embossed envelopes = invitations
Gold embossed envelopes = invitations to really posh dos
If you've done your research and produced content that is useful, relevant or amusing to your reader, then your subject line needs to let your reader know.
Why does it matter what you put in the subject line?
Your email is competing for attention with anywhere between 10 and 200 emails in your reader's inbox. Failing to put something that catches your reader's attention in the subject line could make the difference between 'open' or 'delete'.
Even though your reader has asked to receive your e-newsletter, you need to give them a reason to 'open' this particular e-newsletter.
How do you avoid a boring subject line?
Using just the name of your newsletter e.g. News from Frankie's Ice Cream Parlour No. 24, doesn't give the reader a compelling reason to open your newsletter.
The 'From' field of your e-newsletter should already tell the reader this e-newsletter is from someone they know, so using the name of your business again in the subject line is missing an opportunity to pique your reader's interest and get them to open it.
So don't settle for the name of the publication.
Your subject line wants to arouse the curiosity of your reader, pique their interest, give them a reason to open that email.
If your e-newsletter contains several articles, then choose the most relevant for your readers and create a subject line that will encourage the reader to 'read more' by opening your email.
The more specific your subject line is, the more it can pique your reader's interest. Rather than just 'cooking tips' get specific with '10 minute supper ideas'.
'Ways to save money on your heating bill' could become '5 ways to save money on your heating bill' or 'Save 15% off your heating bill'.
Don't go overboard
Of course some people take this to the other extreme and use screaming subject lines purely to get attention. 'Win a million pounds right now' is fine if you are e-mailing about a game where you can actually win a million pounds right now but if it's just a ruse to get them to read your e-newsletter about conservatories, then you are going to get into trouble.
If there is nothing in your e-newsletter that relates to the subject line you will annoy your reader and ultimately damage the relationship you are trying to build.
When can subject lines make a positive difference?
Every time you send an email you are communicating with someone. It might be a message to a customer, an associate, a member of staff, a friend or family member, an e-zine, an e-newsletter, an invoice or a link.
The subject line should give an indication of your content, pique curiosity or amuse. If you want people to take action when they read your email, give them a reason to open it. If they don't open it, you aren't going to get any action.
We are all bombarded by information every day. When you communicate, set yourself apart by showing consideration for your reader. A well thought out subject line will make your e-mail stand out in the crowd and your regular readers will begin to look forward to your well targeted, useful communications.
Don't put your e-mail communication at a disadvantage by using boring subject lines. Take the time to think up something engaging.
Interested in finding out more about creating e-newsletters?
You should check out my E-Newsletter Strategy Workshop here.