Turn Your Email Subject Lines into Catnip for Clients!

Back in the mid-1990s, it was cool to get email. We couldn’t wait for that AOL mailbox alert – “You’ve Got Mail!”

Heck, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan even made a movie about it!

Today, email (or even LinkedIn Messages, for that matter) is a hassle, a nuisance on par with traffic jams and screaming kids.

The New Reality

You might spend an hour meticulously crafting the perfect sales email or LinkedIn Message, slaving over the keyboard to strike just the right tone, to demonstrate beyond all doubt why your company is the perfect fit, and even end with an irresistible call to action that leaves prospects salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

But if your email’s subject line is anything less than irresistible, it’s all for naught, because your electronic blood, sweat and tears are headed straight into that user’s Trash or Spam folder!

So how do you avoid becoming an email afterthought and get your messages opened?

Take a Cue From Cats!

We all know Curiosity killed the cat – but it’s solid gold when it comes to email subject lines. The same is true when it comes to Utility.

From Daniel Pink’s wonderful book, To Sell is Human, we learn this: Three Carnegie-Mellon scientists found that effective email subject lines fall into one of two categories: Utility and Curiosity. They either demonstrate their usefulness to the recipient or make the recipient curious about what’s inside.

Stop and think about it. Better yet, go back over the last 5 sales emails you sent out to prospects.

  • Do your email subject lines make readers curious? Do they offer any kind of intrigue?
  • Do your email subject lines make readers HAVE to open the document in order to discover the relevant and invaluable knowledge you’re about to part with?

If they don’t, you’re going to continue seeing miserable open rates on your email sales campaigns.

Get Sticky + Bonus Reading!

So before you write another email, put the words CURIOSITY and UTILITY on a post-it note and stick it on the corner of your computer monitor. Don’t forget this lesson!

As a BONUS for reading this far, here’s the most helpful tool I’ve found when it comes to writing killer email subject lines: Copyblogger’s Magnetic Headline series. It’s filled with great tips and templates you can use for awesome subject lines.

Finally, in a nod back to 1998, here’s the trailer for You’ve Got Mail:

Your Turn

Have you had success with certain types of subject lines? If so, share them in the comments!