Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, August 3, 2015

By MaryEllen Tribby

In the last couple of weeks not only did I not read hundreds and hundreds of emails that were sent to my inbox, I actually took the time to opt out from the sender.


The subject line!

That’s right the subject lines were so bad, insulting or vague that I simply had enough. My thought, like so many is that if the subject line is so “off base”, the content that the email contains must be equally bad or simply not relevant.

You see a subject line is your customer or prospect’s first impression. It should be exciting, intriguing or interesting. It should match their interests, and let them know either a problem will be solved or they will learn something to help them in business or everyday life. And it needs to do this with relevancy, specificity or urgency.

The “job” of the subject line is to get the reader to think to himself or herself, “I have got to read this NOW”!

This Month’s Five Worst Subject Lines

So not only am I going to give you examples of this month’s five worst subject lines, I am going to explain what made them fall into this category.

1) Dude: Really! There is no urgency, relevancy or specificity. It is just plain insulting. Granted it came from a successful Internet Marketer – a true IM’er. And I am sure he actually got a decent open rate because the people that follow him (and worship him) just what to hear what he has to say. However, please do not try this at home :. It will not work for you even if you have a community full of surfers.

2) 9 Days Left to Enroll In Our Online Course to Change the World Lets make it fair (for you): This came from a wonderful non-profit organization regarding conservation. There a few things wrong with this subject line. First, they are telling us we have 9 days to respond to this offer. This is the Internet – 9 days is like a 100 years in the online world. That kills urgency.

Next it clearly is saying we are selling you a course. Instead they should have given us a subject line that tugged at our heartstrings – got us to open and then sell the course.

3) Cheers: Like the 1st example, there is not urgency, relevancy or specificity. It did not stand out in the massive sea of emails in my inbox. There is nothing here that says “open me”. The subject line is just plain lazy.

4) (Company Name) Weekly Newsletter: So this email is from a marketing agency. Do you see the irony here? They want to teach people how to market including writing newsletters and subject lines, yet theirs is a mess. Again, there is no urgency, relevancy or specificity. There is nothing exciting about this at all – pity!

5) Learn to spot trends, utilize halftime stats, and balance fun & fundamentals.: This is from an amateur sports newsletter. You may be thinking this has plenty of urgency, relevancy and specificity. And you would be right. So what’s the problem? Well it’s confusing. Don’t mistake confusing with intriguing. I can kind of figure out that the halftime stats are about football. But what sport are they talking about with the trends and fundamentals?

Easy as ABC

So let’s summarize some of the lessons from above by using the ABC’s of subject lines:

A) When using a time limited offer (urgency), never use days, use hours. Saying something expires in 1 to 24 hours is much more effective than using days.

B) When using specificity don’t overwhelm the reader with so many choices. Focus on one main point or benefit in the subject line. It doesn’t mean you cannot address it in your email. Just like below, I am going to give you the five best subject lines but notice I did not mention that in the subject line for this issue.

C) WIIFM – yup, you must use the infamous “What’s In It For Me” mentality. This goes to relevancy. Let the reader know they will benefit from your message.

This Month’s Five Best Subject Lines

Now let’s take a peek at some of the best subject lines from the month.

1) 7 Easy Tips For a Flat Stomach!: This is just golden. It is relevant, specific and urgent PLUS there is a clear benefit.

2) Stop Aging To Death: This has so much intrigue as well as relevancy. I know I what to know how to stop aging to death.

3) Early Bird shot down at 12 (Ignore if bored to tears): Notice the time frame. It is clearing stating the offer will be gone at 12 and the fact he is telling them to ignore it only wants to make the reader open it more.

4) [Download] 28-page swipe file: In this example the reader knows exactly what they are getting, not just a swipe file but 28 pages. This is a big benefit. Notice there is nothing cute here – just the facts.

5) The 5 Worst Subject Lines- Revealed: I’ll say it one more time, this is specific and relevant, plus including the word “Revealed” adds the intrigue.

Another big secret to great subject lines is to keep them to one line. Meaning make sure the reader can see the entire subject line while scrolling on their phone or looking at the sea of emails in their computer.

So many people have great messages to share – make sure your subject line accurately reflects that message. Put the thought and the effort into them and you will reap the rewards!