All Posts by Jackie St Pierre

Best Email Subject Lines of the Week

#fastlain feature: “Flop or Fly.”

I get a lot of email. (100+ a day!)

I delete most of it, but a few grab me. Every week I will be announcing 5 winning and losing email subject lines, and why they worked or flopped. Stay tuned to soon start to seeing a pattern — and to review your own subject lines with a more critical eye.


#1: “Writers hate this part”

From: Jeff Goins

Why it works: Jeff knows his audience comprises writers and wannabe writers, so this works on two levels. First, writers immediately perk up their ears. And second, those who are wannabe writers want to know what the real writers are up to. Jeff calls out something we care about (the part “we” hate) and also incites curiosity by not telling us what “this part” is. Well done!

How you can use this: Make your readers feel like part of the in crowd by identifying them as something they aspire to be.


#2: “Own the Room at Your Next Networking Event – RSVP to Learn How”

From: CreativeLive

Why it works: Total value-driven headline. We know what they’re offering, they personalized it (“YOUR” next event), and they give a clear CTA (RSVP).

How you can use this: Be super-clear on what you offer, who it’s for, and what your reader can do to claim it.


#3: “Don’t panic if you’re not one of the “cool kids” (yet)”

From: Tara Gentile

Why it works: Like Jeff, Tara also appeals to those who want to be part of the “in crowd.” She hits some emotional buttons (both “panic” and “cool kids” touch on that high school angst!) and she promises transformation as well.

How you can use this: This headline is deceptively simple. There’s a lot going on, and I’m pretty sure it took a while to create. Spend extra time refining your subject lines to see if you can increase emotion, add extra triggers, and make it more compelling.


#4: “Hard Work + Loyalty ≠ Career Advancement (Here’s Why)”

From: Career Attraction

Why it works: This subject line plays off common wisdom that loyalty and hard work lead to a desired result. It also promises to explain why that isn’t true.

How can you use this: Offer a pattern interrupt by showing why something people believed is not true — then tell them why.


#5: “You have 16 hours only. No sleeps

From: RueLaLa

Why it works: I love RLL’s tongue-in-cheek subject lines. They’re sassy and current without making old fogies (like me!) feel left out. The feel of urgency was clear with this subject line, yet it was still playful.

How you can use this: Think of a fun way to convey your message. Play with it. Don’t take it so seriously!


Now, the flops:

#1: “SDCC Revel Preview: The Devil of Hell’s Office”

From: Lootcrate

Why it flops: Ummm… what?

How you can avoid this: Be clear. Please?!

My rewrite: I don’t know. I googled “SDCC Revel” and couldn’t even find anything to explain what this was. Typo? Not sure! I did find out that SDCC is “San Diego ComiCon.” As for Devil of Hell’s Office? No clue. 


#2: “Concord & 9th Masterclass is ON!”

From: Crafting Site

Why it flops: Because I used to be in the crafting industry, I knew that the Concord & 9th referred to a rubber stamp manufacturer. But if I were new to this list or to the community, I wouldn’t have the first clue what this was about. Nothing about it makes me interested or curious.

How you can avoid this: Don’t use insider language. Take a “beginner’s mind” approach to writing; if a newbie wouldn’t understand it, use something else. And don’t forget to convey VALUE.

My rewrite: “Learn 5 new stamping techniques in one hour – TODAY.”


#3: “The Process: Step #4”

From: an Online Marketer

Why it flops: I didn’t read (or see) steps 1-3 so this just made me go, “Hunh?!” The funny thing: “The Process” is all about effective email communication! Der.

How you can avoid this: Give context. Don’t assume people read (or even get) your first emails in a series.

My rewrite: “Give Subscribers EXACTLY What They Want (Step 4 in the ASK Method) ” 


#4: “Abundance NOW LIVE Is in Less Than A Week!”

From: An Online Marketer

Why it flops: This is the epitome of a lazy headline. A little rewriting would make it crystal clear. Instead it sends my mind in about five directions at once. Is the event Abundance “now live?” (as opposed to previously being not-live?). Or is the event called “Abundance Now Live?” Or is it “live” as in “liiiiiivvvvv” and not “lyyyyyyv?” I had to think to much!

How you can avoid this: Don’t make readers think. Remove ANYTHING that can cause confusion. Your subject lines, in general, should be scannable.

My rewrite: “Less than 7 days to “Abundance Now” LIVE!”


#5: “20 Tweetable Quotes to Inspire Creative Genius [SlideShare]”

From: Anonymous

Why it flops: Ayiyiyi. Another hot mess. Do I care that these quotes are “tweetable?” Why is the suffix [SlideShare] even included? And will reading the quotes, or sharing them, make me a genius?

How you can avoid this: Get your value statement down before you write a single word.

My rewrite: “20 Creative Quotes You Can’t Help But Share”


The upshot: Don’t be lazy. Clear, simple writing takes work!

Got your own submissions? List them in the comments below!

Best Email Subject Lines of the Week

#fastlain feature: “Flop or Fly.”

I get a lot of email. (100+ a day!)

I delete most of it, but a few grab me. Every week I will be announcing 5 winning and losing email subject lines, and why they worked or flopped. Stay tuned to soon start to seeing a pattern — and to review your own subject lines with a more critical eye.


#1: “Learn How to Drive Conversions Using Sniply”

From: Snip.ly

Why it works: Simple. Direct. Value-driven. What’s not to love?

How you can use this: Start with a clear value statement. Sometimes that’s all you need for a great subject line.


#2: “This is why I got sent to the principal’s office every week”

From: Nagina at MasalaBody.com

Why it works: Why WOULDN’T you open this? Personal story + intrigue = CLICK.

How you can use this: Got a great story to share? Give a hint and then DELIVER. (Remember, though, that it should tie into your overall message and provide value to your reader.)


#3: “Fail Your Way To The Top!”

From: Buck Books

Why it works: I love the counter-intuitive value provided here.

How you can use this: Turn common advice on its head.


#4: “Your audience is not your ATM”

From: Melanie Duncan

Why it works: Melanie’s bold statement also ties into a common annoyance — treating your email list or your market as your “money tree.” So I was glad to see her address this!

How can you use this: Take a position! Be bold! And protect your people. 🙂


#5: “This 26-Year Old Spends Her Days Inventing New Candy Flavors”

From: Fast Company

Why it works: So many good things going on. “This 26-year-old is compelling;” we want to know WHICH one. This works so much better than simply using her name. And inventing candy flavors? Fun, entertaining, and unusual.

How you can use this: Think about leaving out key pieces of info to up the curiosity quotient.


Now, the flops:

#1: “Baratunde Thurston published in Noteworthy by Medium Staff”

From: Medium.com

Why it flops: It has no interest and makes no sense to me.

How you can avoid this: Give people a reason to care.

My rewrite: “He’s got something to say — and you should listen”


#2: “Announcement: You’re eligible for a chance to earn ink rewards”

From: Staples.com

Why it flops: Duh, of course it’s an announcement. And making a big deal about a program I’ve participated in for years is just silly. It’s not news.

How you can avoid this: Don’t email unless you have something interesting, new, or different to share. Otherwise, why bother?

My rewrite: “Earn 2x Points on Ink This Week ONLY”


#3: “5 Things No One Tells You About IVF”

From: a parenting site

Why it flops: This is like a negative-10 on the relevance scale.

How you can avoid this: Again, make me care! Give a hint as to what the “secret” is so even someone who’s not in the IVF market would be interested.

My rewrite: “IVF made me a blonde” 


#4: “Do you use [insert specific software program]?”

From: online marketer

Why it flops: I don’t use that specific software, so I deleted.

How you can avoid this: Don’t ask a question people can answer with a “no.”

My rewrite: “[Software Program] Can Save You 10 Hours a Week — Why Aren’t You Using It?”


#5: “The Millionaire Mindset”

From: an Internet Marketer

Why it flops: Trite. Vague. Could come from ANYONE.

How you can avoid this: Write a subject line only YOU can write.

My rewrite: “How One Simple Change in Thinking Generated Seven Figures in One Year”


The upshot: If you don’t have something interesting to say, don’t email!

Got your own submissions? List them in the comments below!

Best Email Subject Lines of the Week

#fastlain feature: “Flop or Fly.”

I get a lot of email. (100+ a day!)

I delete most of it, but a few grab me. Every week I will be announcing 5 winning and losing email subject lines, and why they worked or flopped. Stay tuned to soon start to seeing a pattern — and to review your own subject lines with a more critical eye.


#1: “Tasty Keto Breakfast Alternatives”

From: WickedStuffed

Why it works: This one hits right at the value it provides. I love that it’s upfront and clear. You don’t have to guess at what you’re going to get when you open.

How you can use this: Remember: “Clarity over Clever.” Share your value clearly and your readers can’t help but be attracted to your offerings.


#2: “How she dealt with bullying (now 25 million fans)”

From: Lewis Howes

Why it works: Lewis hit a couple of hot buttons here: The idea of bullying, which is a hot topic right now. Then there’s the social proof of “25 million fans.” And finally, intrigue by not naming names. We all want to know who “she” is!

How you can use this: We’ve talked about “layering” before. This is a great example of pulling in several triggers to make an okay subject line into a real winner. Once you have a clear, value-driven subject line, ask how you can add a few more elements to make it even more compelling.


#3: “This one trick can increase your conversions…”

Fromhttp://systems.ly/

Why it works: I’m a huge fan of ellipses (…). It provides the “open loop” without being too gross about it. Plus, it’s value-driven and simple (ONE trick… not 45!).

How you can use this: Use punctuation to your benefit, and remember: One trick people can use NOW is better than 24 they have to sort through.


#4: “The #1 Content Platform? (Cheat Sheet Enclosed)”

From:Pay Flynn of SmartPassiveincome.net

Why it works: Pat did a great job of combining several elements. We’ve got value (he’s going to answer a question we’d all like to know the answer to), plus a content upgrade (cheat sheet — hurray!). Finally, by asking a question he gets our brains involved. I’m immediately wondering, “Podcasting? Blogging? Videos?” And then I want the answer!

How can you use this: Ask a question that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Your readers’ minds will go into high gear trying to answer the question.


#5:“Is it too early for peaches?”

From: an online neighborhood message board

Why it works: This was so out of the ordinary I couldn’t help but read the email!

How you can use this: Sometimes, coming out of left field can be a huge pattern interrupt. If you can tie the non-sequitur to your message, go for it. But don’t be strange just for the attention. It’s got to work with your brand and message.


Now, the flops:

#1: “SaaS Website Mistakes: 6 Dire You’re Still Making”

From: an Internet Marketer

Why it flops: First, it doesn’t make sense. “6 Dire You’re Still Making?” Waat? Plus, I don’t have an SaaS website. And “dire” is a loaded word implying life and death. I have trouble believing any of the mistakes I’m making are really THAT bad.

How you can avoid this: Be relevant. Be comprehensible. And don’t overstate your point.

My rewrite: “6 Website Mistakes That Are Killing Your SaaS Business”


#2: “3 Steps to Success”

From: From a Udemy.Com Instructor

Why it flops: Zzzzzz…. Boring. Not specific.

How you can avoid this: Don’t be generic. Write an email that other businesses can’t write.

My rewrite: “You’re only 3 steps away from financial independence.”


#3: “PTO Starts now”

From: an Online Retailer

Why it flops: What the heck does it mean? I thought “PTO” was “paid time off.” but why is an online retailer sending me that? Particularly when I’m not an employee?

How you can avoid this: Make sense! Always.

My rewrite: “Vacation Starts Now. Let’s Celebrate!”


#4: “Become Atlassian product pros with training at Summit”

From: Altlassianevents.com

Why it flops: First, I never subscribed to this email list. Second. What is Atlassian? Third, this is grammatically incorrect. Fourth, who cares?

How you can avoid this: Be relevant. Don’t spam people. And give value, always.

My rewrite: “Join us in August and all your wildest dreams will come true.” I have no idea who these people are or what they do, so I figured I’d have some fun. 🙂 


#5: “My New Book….FREE!”

From: an Internet Marketer

Why it flops: I don’t care about your book until you MAKE me care about it.

How you can avoid this: People care about how your product or service can help them, not how they can help YOU.

My rewrite: “506 tips for improving your business — FREE!” 


The upshot: Remember the hierarchy of Clarity + Value FIRST. If you do that, you’re golden.

Got your own submissions? List them in the comments below!