Emailioration Monday, 4-9-12: Use the Unexpected in Subject Lines

The challenge of email therefore is not finding the right people for your message (you already have them on your list) but making sure your message gets through. The subject line is not just the first chance you have for arresting attention; in many cases it is the only chance. To stand out, use subject lines that are unexpected, and that invite a little further discover. Here are a couple examples:

Example 1: Conference registration opens

- Standard headline: “Registration opens today for the Annual Conference”
- Unexpected headline: “3 Reasons not to Register for the Annual Conference Today”

Obviously, you do not want your email to discourage people from registering for the Annual Conference, but your subject line has their attention, which is the bigger part of the battle. In this case, the three reasons you list might be 1) Find 3 colleagues first to take advantage of group rates, 2) Choose to exhibit instead – you will receive a free full conference pass, 3) You still have 2 weeks until early bird registration ends and prices increase by $100.

Example 2: Lead Story from a Newsletter

- Standard Headline: April 2012 News – Research Shows 67% of Industry CMOs to Increase Spending in 2012
- Unexpected Headline: April 2012 News – 2 out of 3 CMOs Say They May Want to be Your Customer in 2012

Here, what is unexpected is the possible reference to the subscriber’s company within the message. By taking a piece of industry news and recasting it in the way that is particularly relevant to your audience (which is why you are including the news in the first place), you are connecting the first two dots for your subscribers and giving them some initial momentum to keep reading the story.

Using an unexpected subject lines does not give you license to be disingenuous, however. Make sure that the content within the email is an accurate reflection of the subject line, so that your audience will not be disappointed if the subject line successfully lures them in. Remember, your objective is not merely to compel readership – it is the action following readership that drives your business forward.

Each week on “Emailioration Monday”  we spotlight a single tactic you can implement this week in order to improve your email marketing. Share tips of your own on Twitter at #Emailioration, and see the full collection of Emailioration tips here.

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