Hey Bad Ass Copywriters, What Is a Good Subject Line?

27 replies
Hey copywriting warriors,

I love this section on warrior... and am so stoked to see some of the sheer talent on here for copywriting...

....anyway enough ass kissing....I had a question....

What do you think is a good subject line for emails?


I know this is pretty broad....and many of you might not even mail out to a list or track or know any of that stuff....but that's ok.

I wanted to get some feedback... from bad ass copywriters ....that know how to grab attention...and how to get a higher direct response open rate.

..I have a few subject lines that I've used.... that get a much higher open rate than others....and I'm always amazed at which words get a better response from people...

....and I'm curious.... as to what headlines....subject lines....etc....
....you guys have had a good response with...

thoughts?

Thanks in advance
#bad #copywriters #good #hey #line #subject
  • Profile picture of the author Thomas Michal
    One that's relavent to the readers interest.

    I know that's "general" but it's really all you need.
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    • "Hey" works pretty well.

      Stole that one from good ole cousin Frank Kern.

      Either way..

      I think the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in getting your emails opened is WHO it is from..

      Food for thought.
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      • Profile picture of the author tylerjaysen
        Originally Posted by KingDavidOfAbundance View Post

        "Hey" works pretty well.

        Stole that one from good ole cousin Frank Kern.

        Either way..

        I think the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in getting your emails opened is WHO it is from..

        Food for thought.

        yeah that one got a really good open rate from me too....
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      • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
        Originally Posted by KingDavidOfAbundance View Post

        "Hey" works pretty well.

        I think the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in getting your emails opened is WHO it is from..

        Food for thought.
        Dude, that's spot on. Reputation is the most valuable thing in business. Of course, writing great copy helps, but if you're not credible it just pisses people off. They know you're out to sell something and if you ain't got a name people trust, they ain't buyin'.

        That said, I'd suggest avoiding specific words or phrases that "work," mainly because other marketers will copy you, and eventually the words will become generally regarded as "spammy." Focus instead on "types" of openings and topics...here are four that work well for me and my clients:

        (This is only as they relate to the niches I write for, so keep that in mind)

        1) Consistently deliver the hottest new stories in your niche. If they know they can hear it from you first or you ONLY, they'll read your emails. This works best in financial niches, marketing and "how to make money" niches. SEOmoz does a bangup job of this and so does NIA.
        2) Say something controversial, make sure it's relevant to your niche. This works great in the dating niche and sometimes in the personal growth niche. You have to be badass to pull it off in the marketing niche. David Wygant is a master of this, check out his newsletter. In the marketing niche, check out Dan Kennedy.
        3) Use "How to..." and talk about something they really need to know how to do. This works really well in technical niches, web design, programming, anything involving technology. It bombs out pretty bad in the personal growth niche, average results in the marketing niche.
        4) List type headlines. 7 Ways to____, 5 Most Popular____. This can work in any niche, but is most effective when combined with one of the above three.

        Couple other things. I've noticed that using their first name in the subject line has been bombing lately. Makes sense because the moment I see "Seth" in an email subject, I know it's a marketing email. If you're in the personal growth niche, avoid negative words not, don't, isn't etc.

        Words like "quick," "fast" "simple" and "easy" still work like crazy in biz opp niches, weight loss, dating and sometimes in personal growth.

        But again, it's all about being somebody. A great reputation is the best sales strategy
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  • Profile picture of the author secretguy
    I got 2 quick ideas.

    1. Use the BIGGEST BENEFIT that they are gonna get from your mail in the less possible words... ie. 10K in 30 Days?

    2. Use an ACTION word
    ie. GET 10k in 30 Days now...

    Those 2 will work pretty good
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  • Profile picture of the author Corey Geer
    Something that causes controversy, something weird, something disturbing, something funny, etc. Take your pick.

    I used to write headlines like "I Quit My Job To Write Articles"
    "Will Write For Food (And Beer Money)"

    I remember a thread from a while ago about a homeless man that had a quick and to the point sign. His sign said,

    "Ninjas Kidnapped My Family, Need Money For Karate Lessons."
    Signature

    Skype: Coreygeer319

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  • Profile picture of the author Don Grace
    grab a bunch of tabloids at the market, some of the best stuff ever... switch em up to reflect your offer... and if an alien abducted your dog even better
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    • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
      Originally Posted by Don Grace View Post

      grab a bunch of tabloids at the market, some of the best stuff ever... switch em up to reflect your offer... and if an alien abducted your dog even better
      This is actually damn good advice. 50% of my headlines are created like this.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrandonLee
    I think worrying too much about your subject line is becoming a waste of time because people are changing they way they consume email.

    People do not look at the subject line nearly as much anymore, they look at the FROM field.

    And so if every time you intrude on someone's life with your email you provide them something of value they are likely to open your emails - if you don't it's a hit or miss thing.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrandonLee
    The above isn't to say you shouldn't try to be interesting - because thats part of providing value and your subject line can amuse someone or inform them or pique a curious person to look more - but overall its about the value they consistently get from you in what you send to them now. People are less and less impressed with you for having an email address, and more and more peeved about all of the utter rubbish they get in email -so give them value when you send them something and you will be trusted and opened.
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  • Profile picture of the author NadiaChaudhry
    There are four interlocking pieces of a great headline (yes, even for a subject line in an email):

    1. It begins to develop a relationship with your prospect.
    2. Delivers a complete message.
    3. Compels your prospect to read more.
    4. It grabs your prospects attention.
    Signature
    Dreamers, Wanderers, Lost Souls

    The common world was never meant for us.
    Time to invent our own rules.
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    • Profile picture of the author GamerDiehard
      Originally Posted by NadiaChaudhry View Post

      There are four interlocking pieces of a great headline (yes, even for a subject line in an email):

      1. It begins to develop a relationship with your prospect.
      2. Delivers a complete message.
      3. Compels your prospect to read more.
      4. It grabs your prospects attention.
      I'm highly impressed what you said and really enjoyed your sense of idea. But I have glitch in my mind related to this term "prospects", but I think it will heal soon...


      Thanks a lot.
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      • Profile picture of the author NadiaChaudhry
        Originally Posted by GamerDiehard View Post

        I'm highly impressed what you said and really enjoyed your sense of idea. But I have glitch in my mind related to this term "prospects", but I think it will heal soon...


        Thanks a lot.
        @GamerDiehard It can be prospects, readers, or whoever your target audience is. Glad you liked the points!
        Signature
        Dreamers, Wanderers, Lost Souls

        The common world was never meant for us.
        Time to invent our own rules.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cormac L
    Hey, I've got something different to share with you...

    or

    Hey, guess what I discovered?
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      I wouldn't get too hung up on open rates
      because I've seen split test results where the lowest open rate
      amounted to more sales.

      Open rates can be likened to revenue.

      Revenue isn't much use to you if your expenses are greater than revenue.

      And they can be likened to big lists but low sales in total
      compared to smaller lists.

      Sure it can be a measuring point to monitor,
      but not at the expense of the end result wanted.

      Best,
      Ewen

      P.S. This subject line came from John Carlton today...

      "John Carlton & I have an new offer for you..."

      Nothing fancy or ninja about it at all.
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      • Profile picture of the author tylerjaysen
        Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

        I wouldn't get too hung up on open rates
        because I've seen split test results where the lowest open rate
        amounted to more sales.

        Open rates can be likened to revenue.

        Revenue isn't much use to you if your expenses are greater than revenue.

        And they can be likened to big lists but low sales in total
        compared to smaller lists.

        Sure it can be a measuring point to monitor,
        but not at the expense of the end result wanted.

        Best,
        Ewen

        P.S. This subject line came from John Carlton today...

        "John Carlton & I have an new offer for you..."

        Nothing fancy or ninja about it at all.

        Yes Carlton is the man....I love his writing style...and also saw this subject in his email sent to me....thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay White
    I've always had good luck with posing a question. Or if a question doesn't work, adding an ellipses. Both tend to nudge people to peek inside.
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  • ...remember the last thing anyone really needs is yet another email (like we don't get more than enough?).

    So, put yourself into your "audiences" shoes and ask - what would they most like to see?

    If that's tough to do - use curiosity but not in a banal way. Do it in a compelling way.

    Unless you're extremely well known to your list - don't talk so much about you - talk about them.


    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author dlkiefer
    I am a sucker for Email Confirmation - "my email address"
    And you are NOT allowed to snicker and poke fun at me, Steve and Ewen! LOL... Or at least try to contain yourselves!! :-)

    I cannot help myself when I see this subject line... because I cannot remember if I signed up for something or not! SO, I HAVE to find out....
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  • Profile picture of the author 1robert
    You can write a compelling subject line pretty easy, but if the email message doesn't deliver on the promise of the headline, then all you are doing is burning your list.

    Instead I would focus on the subscriber needs and wants and make the subject line practical and believable...
    1. What's his biggest challenge?
    2. What's holding him back?
    3. What does he really want?

    For example, say I'm on your list and you're teaching me how to create an eBook.

    You could copy most people and say...How to create an eBook in 1 hour!

    Catchy, but I would be sceptical and think you're full of it.

    However....How to Write Your eBook 5x Faster

    Now that sounds more believable.

    Simply put, you can trick people to get a higher open rate, but once they since b.s. attempts to buy something, then they will never trust you for anything you offer.
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      Ok Tyler,

      Here's 2 types which are proven winners.

      The first is from Jimmy Curly,
      John Carlton trained ad writer, who took over the writing
      where John had free rein.

      His subject lines would read...

      Hey Bob, I hope your aren't screwing this up...

      He would always use the persons name and
      use a problem and question...without naming the problem.

      Next is a split test on these 2 types of subject lines...

      A how to

      Example of a desired outcome.

      The second one always won handsomely.

      There you go, some treasure unearthed for ya.

      Best,
      Ewen
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      • Profile picture of the author MRMagMark
        Two people I pay attention to in my email inbox is Matt Furey and Ben Settle. Both are great at creating email headers that get attention. Furey sells exercise and health info products. Settle sells his "email secrets" in a monthly print-only newsletter.

        Some of Furey's:
        Oh, My Aching...
        No More Shoulder Pain
        You Changed My Life
        (that one is pure gold)
        Doctors Make You Fat
        Settle goes a different route. A waaaay different route. His mission is to entertain while always pitching his product. Here are some of his (often hilarious) email headers:
        You know what they say about guys with big lists...
        Mocking the naysayers with the "F Word"
        Why I'm such a fart about endorsing auto-responders
        Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a fly-by
        What all of those headers have in common is a strong curiosity-arousing statement. Some of them have the reader shaking his head, saying, "Okay. I'll bite. I've got to read this to figure out what he's saying!"

        It's all to grab attention and to do it quickly (and stand out from the mammoth amount of email in one's inbox). You have to be different. None of this, "Who else wants to be a gazillionaire" type of header. Too many people have done it. You have to go a different route and both Furey and Settle have figured out how to do it.

        The one thing I've discovered in sending out a monthly email newsletter - skip saying it's a newsletter. Don't bother. Just use a curiosity-arousing header, simple as can be. I used to send out a newsletter that would say, "January 2010 Zippity Doo Dah Newsletter: 3 Ways to Blah Blah Blah." It was too much. Plus, I think a lot of people are burnt on the word "newsletter."

        My last email campaign, I used a headline like Settle's. I had a 47% open rate and a 15% click-through rate. I agree with those who said open rates can be deceiving. If someone has an email client that has a preview mode, then as soon as their cursor lands on the email itself, the preview counts as an open -- even if the person deletes it immediately.

        I look for those folks who have opened the email several times. That shows engagement. But the real sweet spot is when people start clicking through your links. Then you really know they're engaged.

        Another one of my favorite "email kings" is Drayton Bird. He's an older guy, but brilliant. He worked with David Ogilvy and is still cranking out copy like mad. Like Settle, he also emails every day (Mon.-Fri.) He writes funny, self-depracating stuff like, "Silly old me - an apology" and "A shameful confession."

        My email inbox is really a secret email copywriting school.
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  • Profile picture of the author chrisnos
    The best subject line whatever the result is they're looking for.

    For example, I write in the how to make friends niche, and I don't say, "how to communicate effectively" but instead say, "what to say in any situation to make people feel ADDICTED to being around you".

    Because the person doesn't give a CRAP about being able to "communicate effectively"; they only are looking to you as a means to an end for the result they're looking for.

    For example, they aren't looking for "weight loss" so they can lose weight; they have an END RESULT image in their head of having their ego hyped and feeling good when people admire their bodies, they walk around every day of their life FEELING healthy and muscular, getting attention from the opposite sex, and being able to look in the mirror and just feel good admiring their six-pack abs... that's why all these women's magazine have headlines like "how to get a six-pack in two weeks or less with our effortless diet" (the end result is promised with almost ZERO EFFORT")

    Think about the fantasy they see when they close their eyes as an END RESULT, and write a subject line that promises that the letter will provide the secret inside to the fulfillment of the fantasy in their imagination.
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  • Profile picture of the author onefreekiwinz
    Marketer Eats Own Head! (Weekly World News)
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  • Profile picture of the author ARSuarez
    I've had pretty good results with "What's Next?"
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnRozario
    My formula for subject line is curiosity + big benefit = great opening rates.
    Example: Our single best idea of the year to become millionaire quickly (It works)
    Explanation: "our single best idea of the year" (curiosity) +
    "to become millionaire quickly"(Big benefit )

    Use this formula if you like it.
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