The un-sexy art of writing intriguing subject lines

I help clients send a lot of email and I get a lot of email. Most of it goes unopened – in many cases because the subject line didn’t do it’s job. Subject lines are tedious to write and the best intentions of testing usually fall to the wayside. So we end up throwing together something like “Exclusive Offer”; “25% Savings” or a travel marketer’s favorite — “BOOK NOW” and hoping for the best. Sometimes when I’m in a bind I look to my own inbox for inspiration and this week i made a note of some subject lines that made me open the email.

#1 – “Earth to Angela” – sent by a lead-generation firm that I’ve signed with but have yet to use their product. They know I expressed interest but have yet to follow through. On the downside — I got another email from them on another topic about 15 minutes later. I appreciate a good trigger campaign more than anyone but know when to cut me some slack and please put me only into one funnel.

#2 “10 bra-friendly dresses under $100” — I wear a bra and I wear dresses and the struggle to hide those straps is real – so this one was relevant to me and further proof that Top 10 lists will never die.

#3 – “Yassssssss!” – A bit extreme but it stood out among all of the savings-based subject lines. There was indeed an ‘exclusive offer’ inside but this worked. Telling me I could save 20% on business cards probably would not have worked.

#3 “Cancel your cooking plans” – Sent at the appropriate time of day this proved to be relevant at that exact moment. Done deal!

#4 “We Heard You Have a Thing For Overwater Bungalows” — I’m sure I do but i have not expressed specific interest in overwater bungalows on this web site…but it’s a pretty safe assumption that most travelers wouldn’t mind taking this trip and the conversational tone helps here. Worth noting — this is the ONLY subject line from a travel company to make this list.

#5 “Are we on for this afternoon?” – This was for a webinar I signed up for and the familiar tone made me think it was from a client or friend.