More Tips on Great Email Subject Lines

Not to beat a dead horse, but there’s no more important content in your organization’s email and e-newsletters than the subject line.

I’ve thought and written a lot about this topic, but was struck by these imaginative suggestions from Gail Goodman, CEO of e-newsletter service provider Constant Contact:

  • Ask a question
    • Obviously, the question has to be relevant to your audiences
  • Be a tease
    • You’re not going to believe this…
  • Tell it like it is
    • The just the facts approach works best when you have a specific audience and know their interests
  • Get up close and personal
    • Use "you" in the subject line — Your gift can change this family’s life.

Lots of great ideas here for you to put to use. I urge you to experiment, but wait to complete the body of the email before you write the subject line. Review the email to identify the most compelling element; then feature that in the subject line.

Do you have other email subject line strategies to share? Please comment below.

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Nancy Schwartz on March 6, 2007 in Copywriting, Email and E-Newsletters, Nonprofit Communications | 4 comments

  • Chris Anderson

    I’ve been wrestling with this one for a while. There seem to be benefits to using this kind of subject line, but there are also benefits to using the same subject line every month.
    A consistent subject line is less likely to be seen as spam. Your readers come to expect it.
    What do you think?

  • Nancy E. Schwartz

    Thanks for your comment, Chris. Yes, consistency is critical but that can be addressed by including the name (or an abbreviated version) of your e-news in brackets, followed by the attention grabbing headline. Best of both worlds.
    Here’s a recent example from the Getting Attention e-news that motivated thousands of readers to open the email:
    [Getting Attention] How to Do Grand Plan Marketing 90 Days at a Time

  • Nancy, the best advice is your own at the end … write the subject line last. I find that 9 out of 10 times the writing process sharpens & crystallizes the core point I want to convey … sometimes changing from my original intent. Revisiting the “placeholder” blog title or subject line almost always yields something punchier.

  • Alex

    thank you, very useful

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