Like a lot of copywriters, I keep a swipe file for inspiration.
However, instead of keeping it to myself, I thought I’d share the subject lines I’ve been swiping lately.
Basically, if a subject line stands out amongst the 100 emails I wake up to, and makes me actually click, I save it in a Google doc. (Especially if it can be adapted for the health and wellness market, since I work with so many health practitioners.)
Now, open rate isn’t the most important metric, of course. Sales is most important.
However, people DO have to open your emails before they can click through and buy. So subject lines matter.
11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger (No. 5 is Insane)
The “list” subject line is well known. 5 Silent Killers… 3 Flat Belly Myths…
However, there are two things that struck me about this particular “list” subject line, which comes from a site called Authority Nutrition.
First, it takes the typical list subject line we’re used to seeing and it breaks the pattern. The part in parentheses makes it different.
Second, it piqued my curiosity. If it had just said 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger, I wouldn’t have even noticed this email. And, as a health nut, I’d assume it’s nothing I don’t already know. However, by calling out one of the items in the list, and calling it “insane,” now I’m curious. Do I know about this “insane” benefit already? Maybe I don’t! So I clicked.
Is an Ultra Low-Fat Diet Healthy? The Surprising Truth
This subject line questions the status quo.
Lots of people think that low fat diets are healthy. That’s what we’re told by the media and by nonfat diet food marketing and even what we’ve been told by our government (at least here in the U.S.).
So questioning something so widely believed to be true, even by medical professionals, makes it pretty clickable.
In other words, slaughter sacred cows in your subject lines. Speaking of cows, next up we have…
How to Win an Argument With a Vegan
Authority Nutrition is very much in favor of eating meat, basing that recommendation on a slew of studies.
So since the audience is going to be primarily meat-eaters, this subject line creates an us versus them dynamic. There’s you and your tribe, then there’s “those other guys.”
Plus, it’s kind of funny, because vegans tend to have strong feelings about their diet and lifestyle choice. (Not hating–I was a vegetarian for a long time, and I had very strong feelings about it, too!)
Also, a vegan site could easily flip this subject line around: How to Win an Argument with a Meat-Eater.
Point is, draw a line in the sand and rally your troops. People love to click on stuff that’s going to reinforce the beliefs they already have.
Back By Popular Demand
This one didn’t come from the health and wellness market, it came from a shoe company called Sole Society. However, it’s adaptable. It would work any time you reopen a course or get a product back in stock.
The reason I clicked? FOMO. Fear of missing out.
“What was so popular that they ran out, and THEN brought it back?”
(It was a nude and black heel with gold studs, btw.)
Another one in this same vein is In Case You Blinked, from a clothing company called Everlane. It implies that I missed something, and so makes me curious enough to click.
I also love Everlane, and they run out of stuff a lot, so the built-in scarcity is definitely a factor. You could even add scarcity into the subject line:
In Case You Blinked (Expires Today)
My Wife Went to My Competitor
Okay, full disclosure. I wrote this subject line, I didn’t swipe it.
However, I’m including it because the engagement it got during a launch last week was crazy.
The email was mainly about how this guy’s business failed because he never talked to potential customers before his launch.
So the subject line could’ve easily been Why My Business Failed. Except that it’s not going to leap out at the audience of startup founders.
Instead, I played up the part of the story with the most shock value: My Wife Went to My Competitor.
I mean it’s bad enough as an entrepreneur to have a failed business. But to have your own WIFE use your competitor’s product? Ouch. You gotta hear that story. Why would she do that? Did she know what she was doing? WHO GOT CUSTODY OF THE DOG?
The open rate on this one was so high that I added this note to my swipe file: Find the juiciest bit of the story, the most painful and gut-wrenching part, the “nail in the coffin,” the unbelievable shocking surprise, the insult to injury, the thing no one saw coming…and turn it into a subject line.
What are some subject lines that have been making you click lately?