But sometimes our stats look sad and we worry we aren't reaching our mighty peeps on our carefully crafted lists. Look, there are a lot of reasons open rates may be down/off (and are a poor measure of overall success), but there ARE also ways we can work on getting more attention in crowded inboxes. I'm not talking about anything spammy! More like using some consumer psychology and knowledge of how human brains work – regardless of niche or industry or business size.
Now, I don't have hundreds of thousands of emails I can use as data to test everything about email writing or email subjects. At least not YET I don’t! But as I keep building my business through email marketing, I’ll keep sharing what I've learned on email writing. But in the meantime, you need to dive in and get writing! 😁
Good email subjects are like good blog post headlines, attention-getting social media posts, headlines on sales pages – something that grabs your reader and makes them keep going. If a subject isn’t interesting, relevant and on-topic – it gets skipped or deleted right out of the inbox. We HAVE to get that first open so we can have a relationship with our email community.
How do we do that without acting spammy or feeling icky?
That’s where that consumer psychology research and years of copy-writing ‘hacks’ come in – that we can learn and borrow from. Using data says is proven to work isn't icky – it's actually pretty smart and saves you tons of time!
There are lots of places that talk about email marketing tips and in particular, how to write attention-getting, open-and-read email subjects.
There are some common points across the various sources, pointing to tried-n-true copywriting techniques on what gets people to open and read your marketing emails. Use these core types of email subjects to your advantage!
I'm a researcher and a teacher, so I'm trained to the core to share resources I've used. It's about time I shared some of my ‘secret' tools with you too!
This mega guide to email subjects that get attention is broken down by type or category of subject line – you should be aware of all 10 human-behavior types of emails.
They read like a primer on the human psyche or even the 7 deadly sins! Check out a few, see what might work in your industry or niche – not all will be a clear fit for every type pf business, but don't write them off! Then mix, match, and test variations out for yourself!
1) FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – also known as ‘scarcity' or ‘urgency'
e.g. ” your 6-figure content plan goes bye-bye at midnight”
2) Curiosity – humans don't like gaps or open loops in their brains
e.g. “9 disgusting facts about Thanksgiving”
3) Funny/Humor– a fine line and requires creativity but can pay off (could also be a spot where you use pop culture references
e.g. ” As You Wish” (a reference to the Princess Bride)
4) Vanity/Ego – we all want to be liked and accepted
e.g. “Your butt will look great in these workout pants”
5) Greed – it's tough to pass up a really good deal
e.g. “Flash. Sale. Alert”
6) Sloth – we humans are a lazy lot! talk shortcuts or time-savers
e.g. “steal these email templates”
7) Pain Points – where are your customers on their customer journey? note the problems you solve
e.g. “stop wasting money on ink”
8) Retargeting subject lines (works if you have data about a subscriber – such as they failed to finish a purchase online, clicked your FB ad, didn't purchase after a trial, etc)
e.g. “hey, forget something? Here's 20% off”
9) Personal – personalization in subject lines (using a contact's name)
e.g. “happy birthday Mary – surprise inside!”
10) Straightforward – when in doubt, keep it simple and clear
e.g.” Happy Holidays from [Company Name]”
e.g. “The 2021 state of social media report”
Neil Patel agrees on many of these core, psychology-drive email subject types in his mega round-up of clickable email subjects.
NOTE: Neil shares research here that says we should NOT fear using the word “free” in our email subjects – data that says you won’t immediately end up in spam. So test it out!
Other types of emails, that you can mix in or use with the psych and copy-writing tips are those shown to be effective in research on subject lines from Instapage:
Check out this roundup of 180+ proven email subjects – sortable by category!- from Sleeknote.
The categories Sleeknote has are echoed by the earlier lists -using a mix of consumer psychology and copy-writing 101.
E.g. Funny, Curiosity, Social Proof, Last Chance (aka scarcity)
Plus use-case or event types of emails like: cart abandonment, follow-ups, promotions.
Some of the examples I liked include:
Of course the content marketing experts at HubSpot have their own round-up of email subjects. See their 150+ best email subjects. How many follow the Psych 101 tips or categories mentioned above? 😉
Note: You have to scroll a bit to find out the brand, product, or industry of some of the emails. But many of the subjects are general enough to tweak and use in any business I suspect.
Some of my favorites from the HubSpot list:
I’ve talked about these email writing tips in several of my live video chats – so if you don’t want to keep clicking and reading – you can watch the videos below. Then go write some mighty email subjects to test.
Email Marketing – Improving Your Subjects – Better Subjects for More Opens
Is anyone listening? How to make an impact with the ONE thing you truly control in open rates – your email subject. I share some of my split test results on email subjects plus a favorite tool for writing better headlines (and email subjects).
Don't over think things, don't try to use ALL of these all of the time, do pick 2 or 3 types of subject to try out with your list and see what the data shows is working. Keep testing and learning. When in doubt, always be clear and give value to your people – align the subject with what's inside your email – no ‘bait-n-switch'!
To avoid landing in the spam folder, the dreaded ‘promotions' tab, or just being deleted – take a little time to use natural human tendencies to craft a subject line that gets attention, gets opened, and gets read.
I want all of my solopreneur pals to feel confident and mighty in their marketing - sharing what makes their work special and so vital to their clients. No B.S. or fluff here. I do the digging and research for you, translate "marketing-ese" into simpler terms, and help you avoid marketing headaches.
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