When reading about email marketing, you often come across tips and tricks for creating catchy subject lines. Although I understand the importance of attracting readers…I also feel a bit odd using these so called “tricks.” Seems a bit too car saleman-like…and goes back to the issue of how creatives doing their own marketing feel a bit too shy. I’ve found that at times, I must remove myself from my normal role and think like a marketer would think – it’s their job to get folks to open the emails. We are all bombarded by messages daily and although we usually read those sent by people we love and businesses we have opted in for…there are still times when I just delete because I can’t take it all in.

So take a look at the email newsletters that you like to read and try to identify why. Besides wanting to get the information, is there something about the format? Is there something about the text size or organization? Do the subject lines capture you? I think there is a nice medium to creating catching subject lines and being authentic at the same time. The whole point of subject lines is to tell the reader a bit about what they are going to get inside. So I think it’s important to be truthful. However, you can also use some copywriting tips to make it sound nicer, to pique curiosity and grab people’s attention to take the action – click and read!

If you’ve already been doing some newsletters, definitely check your statistics to see what has worked in the past – or not worked. This is valuable information. And although the content and time of year have a lot to do with open rates, I think you can also get a lot of information by looking at past subject lines you have used. If you want to do some testing, certain service providers also let you split campaigns and try different subjects lines. That would give you even more information abotu your readers based on the same email blast.

I use MailChimp for my email newsletters and they even offer a research subject lines tool, to help you craft a better subject line. Although there is no sure-fire formula to creating a successful subject line, there are some rules to guard against looking like spam…or just being plain rude. I would definitely avoid:

  • ALL CAPS
  • !!!!!!????!?! Lots of exclamation points and punctuation
  • spammy words like amazing, free, sexual terms or bad language
  • too long of a subject line just looks a bit crazy and unnecessary and beside the point of summing up your email content

Instead, try to sum up your email content or pick the one thing you want to really highlight. Making some kind of offer, offering a benefit or pertinent information or use your authentic clever voice (you know your fans). Sometimes you can make it a question, so people want to know the answer within. It’s also okay to just write [Company Name] Newsletter. I know it seems boring, but if you have a relationship with your customers and send out emails regularly, it just makes sense.

My hope is to find a happy medium between overworked “businessy” marketing phrases and plain boring flat ones. Since everyone has a different audience, it also has a lot to do with what relationship you have with them. What reflects you authentically, communicates the point and gets attention? What subject lines do you like to use? Let me know what you think or if you have any tips in the comments below. Thanks for following along with this creative business 101 series…as I explore topics on my mind, through my own journey in starting a business.

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