What’s in a name, or a subject line?

By Sue Voyles / July 2, 2020 / ,

What was your favorite subject of study in school? English, perhaps or science? Maybe it was math. No matter the subject, we all shared in the excitement of school in one way or another and often found ourselves, especially with college courses, reading the catalog description to try and glean exactly what the course we found intriguing was going to be all about.

Well, it’s pretty close to the same thing when it comes to sending out email communications to people. The use of good email marketing to send newsletters, announcements or survey, is only a great tool to reach clients and prospects if you do things properly.

There are many things that go into the email message you are planning and like so much, it begins at the beginning. We’re talking about the subject line, often the last thing we think about when getting ready to hit the send button, but probably the most critical words you will compose that day.

Getting people to open an email when we are daily bombarded by messages from all angles – from friends and family, to organizations we belong to or what I call e-marketers – begins with the subject line. Frankly, it ends there, too.

So, let’s talk about what truly needs to be a compelling (and succinct) summation of your reason for sending out the email in the first place.

The subject line must be just a few words (6 to 7 words is a good rule of thumb). It can be in the form of a question. In fact, question subject lines often score very well when using subject line testers found on the internet.

Staying focused on the few seconds you have to grab a reader’s attention means you need to find a simple combination of ideas – who, what, why, when and how. These are the four Ws and one H of lead (intro) writing in most newspapers and can help you create a rocking subject line.

Let’s try one really quick. Can you tell if the following is a good subject line? “Try our new bacon burger with jalapeno sauce now.” Does that work? Not really. Yes, you have some info. There’s a bacon burger with a hot sauce, but the call to action to “try” generates no excitement.

What might work better would be something like this: “Why not spice up dinner with our unique jalapeno bacon burger?” This scores a 100 on some subject testers. It includes a question, a statement about what is different with the food and specific info around timing (the when) and even how (spicing up).

Not perfect, but hey you get the idea. Subject lines require a lot of thought, in this case some food for thought.