In this episode, Nicki and Kate talk about the most important part of writing email copy: the subject line. The rest of the email does not matter if the email recipient doesn’t open it. They discuss what to include (and what not to include) in the subject line to get potential customers to interact.
Along with some actionable advice about how to use your own inbox to learn, Nicki and Kate outline the most important things to consider when writing a subject line. Whether it piques curiosity, explains potential benefits, creates a sense of urgency, or uses another tactic, a good subject line has the potential to exponentially boost a client’s business.
Looking for closed captioning or a transcript? Check out the episode on YouTube!
A Sneak Peek at the Episode
[1:20] What’s the number one, most important part of an email? Spoiler: It’s not the call to action or anything on the inside of the email. It’s the subject line! If the email isn’t opened, the rest of the content doesn’t even matter.
[2:30] Nicki and Kate discuss some major things to watch out for when writing subject lines. Too many dollar signs ($), exclamation points (!), or all-caps words, will increase the likelihood the email ends up in a spam or junk folder before the user even gets to see it.
[3:30] So, what makes a good subject line? Nicki and Kate dive into this question by bringing up examples they have seen themselves that either made them click or delete. The first tip Kate gives is to ask if the client is willing to share data on what has (or hasn’t) worked in the past to help you guide your recommendations. If you don’t have access to the data, there are other ways you can tell if subject lines are good.
[5:00] Kate talks about some subject lines that worked on her recently such as, “You’re invited!…” and “Spend fall on the farm.” Nicki explains that these are great lines because they have a curiosity factor and they indicate an obvious benefit.
[8:30] Another few factors that will make a subject lines great is if it can create a sense of urgency and if it is personalized. You want people to get at least part of the answer to “What am I going to get out of this?” while piquing their interest enough to get them to read on.
[10:00] Nicki and Kate discuss some overused subject line tactics that used to be good but are now cliché. Be careful about using email gimmicks like “Oops –” or “Don’t open this email!” as they are no longer as powerful as they once were due to excessive use.
[14:00] Another thing to be careful of is explaining benefit and squashing curiosity all before the reader opens it. A good subject line gets the intended recipient to open the email so if the entire email purpose is explained in the subject line, they don’t need to open!
[16:30] Nicki and Kate talk about vagueness. With the example “Finding purpose with Jerry” there is a lack of information about why they should care about who Jerry is (apparently a three-legged dog). There is also a vagueness around the idea of “finding purpose.”
[19:00] Kate explains that the pre-header is that little line of text that sometimes shows up after the subject line. While it is not necessarily the place that requires the most attention to the copy, it is always good to put something there instead of leaving it to be email content.
[21:45] Nicki and Kate warn against using yes or no questions as subject lines. If the question can be answered without the recipient opening the email, they won’t open it.
[23:15] A great tip from Nicki and Kate is to read the emails you get in your own inbox. See what emails you are drawn to and which ones you delete. Maybe even work on amending some of the deletable ones to see what you could do to make it better (hello potential pitch opportunities!). Writing is only half writing. The other half is editing, reworking, tweaking, and polishing the final product.
[25:30] Blank page panic? Start a doc with all of the subject lines you rework from your own email and use them as ideas to jump off of!
[26:45] Send. Multiple. Subject. Lines. To. Your. Clients.
[29:00] There are a few “rules” that people follow when writing subject lines such as using less than a certain amount of characters or words. These rules really mean nothing because you could easily have a terrible five word subject line and a great seven word subject line, it’s all about the copy!
[30:30] The most important words should be at the beginning of the subject line. For example, if the email is about a 40% discount, that 40% off should be at the beginning of the line where the reader is most likely to see it and be intrigued.
Mentioned on this episode
- Writing Subject Lines for Solopreneurs
- Email Snippet Tactics
- How to Maximize Email Subscriptions
- Top 3 Biggest Email Mistakes—Part 3
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About the Build Your Business Podcast
Ready to turn your love of writing into a successful copywriting career?
Join professional copywriters Nicki Krawczyk and Kate Sitarz to get the tips, tools, and training to help you become a copywriter and build a thriving business of your own. Nicki and Kate have 20+ and 10+ years of experience, respectively, writing copy for multi-billion-dollar companies, solopreneurs, and every size business in between.
Whether you want to land an on-staff job, freelance full-time and work from wherever you want, or make extra money with a side hustle, the best place to start learning is right here.
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Last Updated on September 10, 2023