Zen and the Art of Writing Subject Lines

Wouldn’t it be nice if every email you sent was read by your recipients? Or even better, if they click on your “call to action” and purchase something from your site? What if you knew some wonderful secret to make this happen each and every time?

The truth is, there is no trick to make readers open your email. The trick is (drumroll,please)…not to be tricky.

Try to imagine, if you will, the ideal email recipient.

Is he the guy who gets excited about the sales pitch in your subject line?
Is he the guy who loves exclamation points and capital letters?
Is he the guy who believes that opening emails will bring him riches?

That guy may live in a fantasy world, but not in the real world.

In reality, email recipients’ inboxes are jam-packed with newsletters, offers, and – lets face it – spam. They’ve become very discerning about what looks like spam and what doesn’t. They’ve become super efficient at deciding if the email in their inbox is going to be of value by scanning the subject line in 1/2 second. They are downright adamant about not having their time wasted.

According to our studies, the best way to get your email opened is to follow these simple guidelines: 1) Conform to your recipients’ expectations 2) Describe the contents of the email

Yep, it’s just that simple.

Emails that get opened:
[Your Company Name] October Newsletter
Happy Holidays From [Your Company Name]
Website News from [Your Company Name]
October Newsletter

Emails that don’t get opened:
Halloween – Shop and save 10%
Last Minutes Gifts
Halloween Sales Event

Get the picture? The recipient will open what he or she expects to see in the inbox. So, if they signed up for a company newsletter, then they will open your newsletter if they expect to get it. They will not open your hard sales pitches, promises of savings, last minute deals, etc because to their mind it instantly looks like spam. However, if the reader signed up for special deals, then they will open them, if that’s what they are expecting.

Another key besides expectation is persistence and consistency. If you consistently describe the body of your email using a subject that is simple and honest, the reader will grow to know, trust, and love you and keep you on their “OK” list. Once you’ve gained that trust, you can focus on the soft sales.  Persistence and honesty are what pay. Hard sales pitches may have a temporary short term gain, but, you’ll lose your subscribers and repeat buyers in the long run.