Subject Lines Archives

Headlines from the headlines

One of my favorite ways to get inspiration for copywriting headlines and email subject lines is to look at the daily news headlines.

Whenever you come across a news headline that interests you, especially if it’s about a topic in a market you sometimes write copy for, make a note of it (if you don’t already have a headlines document in your Google Docs or on your computer, start one).

Each day take a glance at the headlines in Google News, New York Times (especially their most popular articles), Huffington Post (check out this article about their headlines and how they test them) and a news site in your local area.

Obviously you won’t be able to swipe these headlines word for word to use as a copywriting headline. The purpose is to give you inspiration and raw material to work with to tweak into a headline you can use.

It’s common for copywriters to study and swipe successful copywriting headlines but I find it adds freshness to your copywriting to also study the news headlines. Because news headlines tend to be pithy they also can provide inspiration as email subject lines.

I’ll share a few I came across this past week:

“What’s the biggest money mistake you can make?”

This is a curiosity headline from a news site in my local area. With a little tweaking you could turn this into a copywriting headline for copy in the financial/debt management niches. You could use it word for word in an email subject line.

A headline like this also meets the “3 a.m. test”  that Gary Bencivenga talks about: if you woke up a person in your market at 3 a.m. and read them your headline, would it create such a sense of urgency that they would want to hear more or would they roll over and go back to sleep?

“If you had more money than you knew what to do with, would you want more?

A good example of a question headline from the New York Times. If you write copy for financial services or products this would also make for a good email subject line and topic.

“Raising pigs and this baseball thing really go together.”

Another example from the New York Times. I like the use of contrast here. One doesn’t normally associate pig farming with baseball. Making note of a headline like this will remind you to use contrast in your copywriting headlines whenever possible because it’s one of the best ways to provoke curiosity.

“$5 debit card fee got you mad? Time for deposit-only banks.”

This is from Google News and an example of an emotion headline that targets a very specific frustration of the people in your market. It would be very easy to adapt this to a copywriting headline.

Another benefit to this daily exercise is it will help you stay informed as to what’s going on in the world. There have been countless times I’ve come across a factoid or statistic in a news story and used it in email and sales page copy.

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An email copywriting lesson from Netflix

Copywriters put a lot of effort into subject lines, but there’s a field that’s even more important… the from field.

Get that wrong and your subject line and email won’t get read at all.

Let’s take this email I got from the Netflix CEO today as an example:

Like most people, I quickly glance at the from column in my inbox first.

I noticed “Reed Hastings, Co-Founder” and didn’t know who the heck that was. I almost trashed it but gave it a second chance because of the subject line.

It turns out Reed Hastings is the CEO of Netflix. Who knew? I didn’t, even though I’ve been a customer for several years. I probably don’t know the names of the CEOs of any of the companies I pay bills to every month.

The from field should have read, “Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO & Co-Founder.” Then “Reed Hastings, Netflix” would have appeared in the from field of my inbox and I would have opened it without almost accidentally deleting it.

If you’re a copywriter, always ask a client what they intend to put in the from field and advise them accordingly. It might seem like a trivial detail but it’s not.

By the way, I like the rest of the Netflix email. I always admire it when someone has the courage to open an email with “I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation.” Plus, I’m a happy instant streaming customer, and hate messing with DVDs, so I’m not in a snit over their new biz model.

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Yesterday Mike Geary of Truth About Abs sent an email with the subject line “How to burn a pound of pure fat in a day.”

I opened the email right away.

Not because I’m in a hurry to burn a pound of fat, but because it’s an intriguing concept and I knew if I opened the email I would actually find out the answer.

You see, many marketers use subject lines like this but it’s a bait and switch.

Instead of giving you an answer to the question raised in the tantalizing subject line, they promote some product instead.

It’s a trust thing. If your subject lines constantly tease and the email content is always a lame pitch, then the trust is blown.

For some reason, many marketers in the fitness niche consistently send out quality emails and are good at building trust. As much as I like stories, I don’t mind reading an email that’s all content, like the “How to burn a pound of pure fat in a day” email.

If you send out emails regularly, a mix of how-to and stories works well.

And speaking of Mike Geary, I’ve written a series of pre-written emails to promote his Truth About Abs as an affiliate.

You can get these AND a series of pre-written emails I wrote for Fat Burning Furnace for only $7 if you click here.

Yep, that’s 14 pre-written emails for only $7.

Even if you don’t promote any fitness or weight loss products (these emails will work for any products in those niches, by the way), just get them to read the tips and stories.

I think you’ll learn a thing or two about weight loss you didn’t know before (especially my weird tip about a grocery store item that you would NEVER associate with weight loss).

In other words, these emails will help you burn fat and make you some money if you use them to promote fitness or weight loss products.

So go check them out.

P. S.  If you’re wondering about how to burn a pound of pure fat in a day, I don’t want to leave you hanging. There isn’t a link to his email so I’ll just quickly summarize and say it’s about cheat days and strategic fast days.

If you have the occasional cheat day and eat what you want and follow it with a day where you eat very little, your metabolism on that fast day will be primed to burn more fat.

If tips like these interest you, check out my fat burning emails.

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Subject Line Saturday: Mother’s Day subject lines

I see I’ve been getting hits to this website for the search phrase “Mother’s Day subject lines.”

Whoa, it’s almost that time of year already.

Anyone in any niche can send out an email that ties in with Mother’s Day.

You don’t have to sell greeting cards, flowers or chick-knacks to acknowledge Mother’s Day in your marketing.

Even if you’re in the internet marketing niche, surely you can think of a lesson you learned from your mom you can tell as a story and then promote a product at the end.

Barbara Corcoran wrote an entire business book based on the lessons she learned from her mom that she has used in building her billion dollar real estate business in New York.

Each chapter title is a lesson she learned from her mother and they make for good email subject line inspiration. Here are a few:

“If you don’t have big breasts, put ribbons on your pigtails.”

“It’s your game, make your own rules.”

“Go play outside.”

“Moms can’t quit.”

“Jumping out the window will either make you an ass or a hero.”

If you’re a retailer who sells products that would be of interest to women on Mother’s Day, you can’t ever go wrong with subject lines that announce a discount and encourage women to buy something for themselves for Mother’s Day. As a mother I’ve fallen for a subject line like that a time or two. :-)

As they come in, I’ll post Mother’s Day subject lines that arrive in my inbox (the ones I think are acceptable, that is. Too many of them are of the “Mother’s Day Deals” variety). If you have any you’d like to share, feel free to post them in the comments:

Love Mom and Love to Save? Get 50% Off the Perfect Mother’s Day Gift! That one is from Barnes & Noble.

Send mom some love with these gifts from Bas Bleu

As expected, J. Peterman didn’t disappoint with their Mother’s Day subject line: Free 2nd Day Shipping – Grand (Dame) Finale. Click here to see the email.

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Subject Line Saturday: The best email of the week

Instead of analyzing several different subject lines, I’m going to keep it simple today because it’s a holiday weekend.

Also, the email J. Peterman sent on April Fool’s day is worthy of a post of its own. It was by far the most engaging email I received all week. Click here to see it.

The subject line was: MACRONEAUX’S J. PETERMAN MAKES OFFER FOR FRANCE

Using humor in email copy can be tricky, but J. Peterman manages to pull it off well.

You should sign up for their list. The emails they send out are always worth reading and studying.

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Subject Line Saturday: On Darth Vader and Birdies

It’s Subject Line Saturday again and I’ve plucked three email subject lines from my inbox to discuss here:

Podcast – Fly fishing with Darth Vader –   This is from the Books & Culture publication.

Darth Vader and fly-fishing aren’t things I normally think of at the same time.

And Books & Culture is an egg head type publication so that’s another reason I think this is a catchy subject line. It’s unexpected.

The Silent Epidemic that’s Becoming a National Security Disaster – Dr. Mercola emails arrive 3-4 times per week and sometimes it exasperates me how he uses fear in many of his subject lines, but at least that’s not his only approach. And obviously it must work for him.

In about half his emails he uses a question in his subject lines, such as: “This Common Food Ingredient is as Addictive as Cocaine?”

In other emails he uses a teasing approach, such as: The Spice That Ignites Your Body’s Astonishing Immune System.

It’s interesting to me that many of his subject lines are so long they can’t be read in their entirety from the inbox. I’m an advocated of shorter subject lines but, again, it must work for him.

4 Birdies, Zero Hooks – From Just 2 Buckets – I signed up for Don Trahan’s Peak Performance Golf Swing list a few weeks ago because I like the copy on his website and also because I plan to visit the driving range once a week this summer.

This subject line hit the spot (no pun intended). It gets to the point and commands attention.

As always, if you find email subject lines that catch your attention, feel free to email them to me or leave a comment. I’ll see you next Saturday with more subject lines.

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Subject Line Saturday: Prevention subject lines

Since last week’s Subject Line Saturday post I see that I’ve received four emails from Prevention magazine. Because Prevention is a successful health magazine I’d like to take a look at those four subject lines in today’s post because undoubtedly we will learn a thing or two.

Prices Cut! Just 88 cents an issue! Although I’m not a big fan of exclamation points in subject lines, this subject line is straight-forward and mentions the offer right in the subject line. Often times the simple and direct approach is best.

Program Your Blood Sugar For Weight Loss! This email promotes a glycemic index cookbook. The email is a HTML email, of course, and reads like a mini sales letter.

The mini sales letter approach is something I avoid when writing emails for clients and my own list because it doesn’t help with relationship-building. But if your niche is health and weight loss and you run a huge magazine then apparently this is the way to go.

Eat To Beat Diabetes! Another mini sales letter/email for a cookbook, another exclamation point.

At this point I’m starting to wish that Chris Cunningham (the person whose name is at the bottom of these emails) would, oh, tell a story or something instead of trotting out the expected mini sales letter.

Dance your trouble spots away in minutes a day! Unlike the other subject lines, this one only has a capital letter at the beginning, which is my preferred method. Kelly Jennings is the author of this email (and the exercise program that’s for sale) so it looks like they mix it up and send out their emails in a variety of names.

All these emails are catchy and do a good job of grabbing attention, so if you’re in the health or weight loss niche you might want to subscribe to their list so that you can study their subject lines.

My opinion on their actual emails is that the mini sales letter approach won’t work as well for you if you are a solo entrepreneur or run a small business because relationship-building is key to growing your list.  But I encourage you to send out four emails per week like they do.

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Here are my favorite subject lines from the past week’s emails in my inbox:

1. Know a dog that should be in pictures? This was from the Artful Home catalog.  The graphics in this email are delightful and it made me smile even though I don’t own a dog. Click here to see the email. My 6-year-old daughter saw me looking at this email and immediately launched into “Can we buy a dog?” :-)

As much as I like plain text emails I have to admit that the right HTML email is so effective and memorable.

2. The Road Less Yelped – From Yelp-Chicago. Yelp sends out weekly emails with restaurant reviews from your local city.

I live two hours away from Chicago so these reviews weren’t that relevant for me but they were fun to read. The email was nice and pithy.

3. Home Tips Weekend Project – Change Your Clocks & Smoke Detector Batteries.  This one is from Don Vandervort of HomeTips, a site with excellent information about DIY repairs.

This email is a good reminder that you should incorporate seasonal events in your subject lines and emails from time to time.

Here are some current/upcoming ones:

  • Changing the clocks.
  • Migrating birds, early spring flowers and other signs of spring.
  • St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Easter.
  • Mother’s Day.
  • Memorial Day.

It’s easy to take any event like this and think up a story associated with it and transition into a tip or sales pitch. It works for any niche.

A broadcast email like this also shows that your information is timely and relevant.

Thanks for reading! I’ll have more subject lines and subject line tips for you next Saturday.

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Subject Line Saturday: Going Coastal to Deal With Blather Control

For some reason there were slim pickings in my in boxes this week. Hardly any subject lines jumped out at me. I even went through some of the junk in the spam folder but even the spam was boring.

Anyway, here goes:

1. Blather Control: How to Hold it. That one was from Ben Settle. I love the phrase “blather control.” Lots of people have blather control issues, especially in the marketing world.

Also, his email promoted a seminar, but  he opened by describing a memory of what he learned from this person at a previous seminar, so it’s not a typical affiliate pitch, it’s more personal. And he doesn’t even include an affiliate link, just a direct link. How’s that for building goodwill and trust with your list?

2. Come Alive With Color. This came from Cost Cutters. Who doesn’t want to come alive with color after a long, drab winter? In this case the color is hair coloring, which I’m not in the market for, but I read the email anyway. It is targeted to people who have never had their hair colored before and might be apprehensive. In just one paragraph it addresses those concerns.

3. Going Coastal. This is from Daily Candy and I love the wit and pithiness. Plus, going coastal sounds appealing this time of year.

I’ve written before about how you should sign up for the Daily Candy list. The emails are always well-written and they know how to use photos and graphics in an appealing way. It’s must reading for any email copywriter.

4. Too Legit to Knit. Another witty subject line from Daily Candy. This email was about a knitwear company that uses New Zealand wool.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next Saturday with more subject lines.

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Subject Line Saturday: “Cool hues in ocean blues”

I haven’t written about email subject lines in a while but now I want to make it a regular Saturday feature on this blog.

I subscribe to very few email lists in my regular email inboxes because receiving too much email is distracting for me as an email copywriter.

But I have a dormant Yahoo mail account that I don’t use anymore because a lot of crud piles up there.

So I thought I’d go through some if it each Saturday and find the five subject lines that manage to get my attention in all that mess.

Here goes:

1. Cool Hues in Ocean Blues. The Sundance catalog sent this email. The subject line appealed to me because it rhymes and evokes a nice image.

2. Last Chance For Free Shipping, Hurry Ends Tonight. This is another Sundance subject line. It’s a good reminder that a straight-to-the-point subject line always works. Especially if the word “free” is in it.

3. Tips For Getting a Good Flight’s Sleep. This subject line is by Magellan’s travel catalog. I thought it was catchy and stood out from the crowd in my inbox.

4. Why You’re Unique, Special and Great. This subject line is by Mike Litman. Yeah, it’s kind of gimmicky. But it managed to catch my eye in the sea of crud in my inbox. Using the word “you” in a subject line is effective.

5. Capture brilliant ideas with our notebooks and journals. This is by one of my favorite catalogs – Levenger. First, I like that the only use a capital letter at the beginning of the subject line. This looks more natural, less sales-y.

Also, I like that they assume that my ideas are brilliant. And I’ve always had a fondness for notebooks.

See you next Saturday with more subject lines.

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