4 Keys to Engaging Subject Lines

Last Updated September 6th, 2010

The last two newsletters have had the best content along with heart-grabbing videos, yet no one is opening them.  Why are they passing by your best stuff?  Like any news article or web page story, people read headlines to decide if it is worth their time to read some or all of the story that follows.  For emails, the subject line is your headline.  Here are 4 keys to writing headlines that engage your audience to read further.

1. Lead with what is hot
Email should always be expected, timely and relevent.  Is there a topic in your newsletter that is on everyone’s mind?  There is old saying in the newspaper business – don’t bury the lead.  Incorporate the hottest item right into the subject line.  Is your newsletter filled with the same old stuff?  Maybe you are out of touch with your reader community and what is important in their eyes.

2. Use numbers
Headlines with numbers are specific, easy to read and direct.  Placing a number in your headline quantifies what you’re saying.  Your readers will appreciate specific statements instead of the usual generalities.  For example:

  • Only 4 slots left for Thursday’s seminar
  • 5 steps to super-charge your capital campaign
  • 452 attendees last night raised $3,450

3. Include a call to action
A call to action tells the audience what you would like them to do.  The best subject lines will inspire your audience to take action.  You might try to include a deadline or an offer, such as: “Sign-up by Friday for early bird discount”

4. Find inspiration from the pros
When you see a headline that really works, jot it down.  Of course you shouldn’t copy verbatim, but use the idea and adapt it to your newsletter or video email.  Magazine editors are really good at writing headlines; so are the top blogger.  You might want to look at the blogs of people writing to an audience like yours.  Their headlines may light your creative spark

Ethan Beute

Ethan Beute | About The Author

Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, co-author of Rehumanize Your Business, and host of The Customer Experience Podcast, Ethan collects and tells stories of clearer communication, human connection, and higher conversion with simple, personal videos. BA: University of Michigan. MBA: University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Fresh air & clean water.