All Posts by Bella Piontek

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:“IPPOLITA for you. Yes, Y-O-U.”

From: Rue La La

Why it works:

Ippolita is a brand I’ve purchased before, so seeing the name come up in the subject line pulls me back in. The unusual Y-O-U makes me look twice.

How you can use this:

Sometimes being eye-catching is as simple as a few h-y-p-h-e-n-s. 🙂 And I totally prefer this brand of personalization versus using my name in the subject line.


#2: “Increase revenue by 7 figures, add publicity as a service”

From: Andrew O’Brien/ The Publicity Guy

Why it works:

Straight shooting here Andrew! This makes it super clear but is also super compelling with the “7 figures.”

How you can use this:

Be straight forward when it comes to topics that don’t need the unnecessary beating around the bush. When we talk about revenue being straight forward with people is your best bet. They will appreciate the honesty and dive right in!


#3: “I can’t believe I got talked into this”

From: Alionka Polanco

Why it works:

So conversational, it looks like a personal email. I don’t want to miss out on any good gossip.

How you can use this:

Everyone wants to be “in the know.” Keep it personal and incite curiosity and you’re good to go. (But you better pay off in the email itself or people will feel duped!)


#4: “How To Procrastinate (Effectively) On Really Hard Projects”

From: Fast Company 

Why it works:

We’ve been bagging on Fast Company for a few weeks. This time, they got it right! I love the obvious value from the how to, the built-in curiosity, and the counterintuitive “procrastinate effectively.”

How can you use this:

Use multiple value points to create the ultimate subject line. Go against the grain and show a unique twist on a common topic.


#5:“What 1,200 Calories Looks Like [Infographic]”

From: My Fitness Pal

Why it works:

A unique value-add from a fitness app. The only thing I’d say is lose the [infographic] suffix. It’s not necessary. 

How you can use this:

Think about how you can add unique value to your audience. Can you help them picture something in a new way? Can you turn words into a photo or image, or vice-versa? Think outside the box.


Now, the flops:

#1:“Ending! Spring Price Strike Sale”

From: Groupon

Why it flops:

They almost had it, but blew it with the “Price Strike” and “Sale.” One or the other is plenty. Put both in and I’m confused.

How you can avoid this: 

Don’t overwhelm people. Keep it simple.

My rewrite: “Ending – Spring Sale!”


#2:“Mastering Project Roadmaps v2.0 is now available”

Why it flops:

This subject line is a mess.

It’s a prime example of assuming your audience is mentally in the same place you are. This came into my inbox between an email from my sister and one from a client with info for a project I’m working on. Right in the middle of that, they pop up with reference to a program (software? app?) I’m not familiar with and don’t (yet) care about. It completely misses.

*IF* this email were sent to me because I’d purchased Mastering Project Roadmaps 1.0, it would be so-so… but even then it says nothing about value to the user. What is new and different in V2.0? Why do I need it?

How you can avoid this:

NEVER assume anything. Remember that you are popping up in their inbox like a jack-in-the-box. Make sure you’re the fun and friendly and welcome clown, not the scary kind that you want to immediately erase.

My rewrite for non-customers: “Ready to streamline your project management?”

My rewrite for customers: “You’re going to LOVE this upgrade – TONS of enhancements!”


#3: “Let’s get started”

Why it flops:

First off, who cares? There is nothing compelling in this email from someone who wants me to invest my time and money in their coaching/course. I don’t want to “get started.” I want to save money/lose weight/change my life…

THEN… the first sentence of this email says, “If you’ve been following my emails from last week…”  

Well, this is just dumb. If the reader HASN’T been following… and over half of your subscribers haven’t even opened your email… you’ve immediately alienated them.

And if the reader HAS been following, it’s repetitive.

How you can avoid this:

Avoid being too general. Avoid making assumptions. Avoid being boring.

My rewrite: “Ready to change your life? The first step is inside…”


#4: “We would love to hear your feedback on Google+!”

From: Elements Message

Why it flops: 

They want something but there’s nothing in it for me (I don’t really care what a nameless, faceless business “would love.”) Also, Google+ is a hassle and most people don’t use it. 

How you can avoid this: 

Have an incentive for people to go out of their way to give you a review! And when you do so, make it on a platform most people are familiar with.

My rewrite: “Share your opinion and save $10 off your next massage.”


#5: “there must be a mistake (did you mean to do that?)”

From: an online fitness membership

Why it flops:

I had checked out an online fitness membership, but logged out before completing registration. This was the THIRD email I received in just a few hours about coming back to complete checkout.

TOO MUCH.

There’s “reminding” and then there’s “harassing.” This felt like harassment!

How you can avoid this: No one likes their inbox to be flooded with harassing emails. One follow up is enough. If you want to send out another, give it time and introduce a new topic.

My rewrite: There isn’t on, because I shouldn’t be getting another email!


The upshot: The subject line is the headline for the email. If you don’t get it right, people aren’t going to read any further.

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.

Just checking in! How is it going with subject lines? Did you use the tips from last week’s post? Comment and let me know the progress you have made!


#1:”Stranger in a Strange Land?”

From: Buck Books

Why it works:

This subject line is a great example of knowing your audience. Since this email list is aimed at book readers, they will probably get the reference to the novel by Robert Heinlein. +1 for piquing curiosity and +1 for literary reference = HOME RUN!

How you can use this:

Make your readers feel like “insiders” by using references only they’ll get. Then they’ll feel more engaged with the topic — and more inclined to open.


#2: “You have some dirty windows…”

From: Alex Charfen

Why it works:

Curiosity at its best. It stands out and makes me want to learn more

How you can use this:

Dream up a subject line that will be one-of-a-kind. Send the email that only YOU can send. That way, you train your readers to expect unique content.


#3: “Latest episode and it’s good. Real good.”

From: Nathan Latka

Why it works:

LOVE the conversational tone. It sounds natural and, as a result, doesn’t sound like bragging. And because it’s “Real good” I’d be a dummy not to read more!

How you can use this:

Keep it friendly and positive, and deliver the goods (Warning: don’t tell people something is “real good” unless you can stand behind that claim!).


#4: “Money, power, influence”

From: Tara Gentile

Why it works:

Talk about appealing to your target audience.. who WOULDN’T open this?! Money, yes. Power, yes. Influence, heck yes!

How can you use this:

Don’t be afraid to go for the bull’s eye and hit every one of your audience’s desires head-on.


#5:“Really Ugly Book Covers”

From: Adazing Books

Why it works:

I laugh just thinking about this subject line. It’s my favorite type – curiosity + a little quirkiness with the promise of humor. It’s unique and fun, and promises some info and education, too.

How you can use this:

Play on counter-intuitive wording to give your subject line an edge. Subscribers will click because it’s something they haven’t seen before. Going against what is expected is a sure pattern interrupt that will draw their attention.


Now, the flops:

#1:“Our Mother’s Day offer has had it up to 15% off”

Why it flops:

A sales should be a “gimme” when it comes to powerful subject lines. But this went off the rails! First, 15% off is not that impressive… I’ve read previously that 25% is the minimum to make a significant increase in sales. (Here is an article from Yoast on discounts — percentage off vs. $ off, etc.). Next, the subject line is confusing. It sounds like I’m in trouble (“My mother has HAD IT UP TO HERE!”).

How you can avoid this: Remember: Clarity FIRST.

My rewrite: “Mom would be proud of you…”


#2:“FINAL REMINDER ????????”

Why it flops:

Can you say “internet marketing scam”? THEY ARE LITERALLY SCREAMING AT ME! I hit delete before I opened.

How you can avoid this:

You better be telling my my house is on fire or that I won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes if you are using ALL CAPS and a boat load of question marks!

My rewrite: “Last chance to save!”


#3:“Get A+ Zzzzz. Renaissance Hotels is on.”

From:  e-commerce site

Why it flops:

Are you as confused as I am? Confusion = no action. No action = no money.

How you can avoid this:

Remember the First Rule of #FastLain Communication: Clarity!

My rewrite: “Renaissance Hotels: The Best Sleep of Your Life.”


#4: “The Evolution Process From A Junior Level Designer To Becoming A Design Lead”
Why it flops: 

Several no-no’s here. Firs,t this is too long. It’s going to be truncated in the inbox and as a result it won’t be clear. Next, it’s not a topic I’m interested in. AND even if I read the whole darn thing, it’s not very compelling.

How you can avoid this: Keep it short. Keep it interesting. Keep it targeted.

My rewrite: “Ready for the Next Step in Your Design Career?”


#5: “Re: Greetings.,s/m”

From: a Nigerian Prince

Why it flops:

Do I need to say anything here?

How you can avoid this: Make sure you don’t look like a scammer. Avoid the “Re:” prefix. And just make sense.

My rewrite: “Give me your money.”


The upshot: The subject line is the headline for the email. If you don’t get it right, people aren’t going to read any further.

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.

Before we jump in, check out these 5 subject line tips:

#1 Character Count

Look at how long your email subject line. In general, shorter is better. Most computer inboxes show about 60 characters, but that’s reduced to 25 to 30 on mobile.

#2 Personalization

There are mixed thoughts on this technique (some feel it’s too “salesy”) but the research does show that putting the recipient’s name, company, or even the location in the subject line can increase clicks. 

#3 Always Include a Subject line

This one seem like a no brainer. Always. ALWAYS. Always! include a subject line! If there isn’t a subject line it looks like spam. 

#4 Use Logical Keywords or Prefixes for Search and Filtering

If I’m sending out course emails, or emails in a series, I like to use a prefix… Something like [COPY] or [Day1]. This is such a huge help for the recipient when they’re looking for the course or series materials. You can also add a keyword to the subject: “Awesome Copy Course Day 1.” Remember, clarity first!

#5 A/B Split Testing

Not sure about what is working and what is not? SPLIT TEST IT! Most email programs will let you shoot out half your emails with one subject line and the other half with another. Keep everything the same in both email except the small changes in the subject line. Stay on top of the responses to see your subscribers liked best and adjust from there.

First, the winners:

#1:*PROOF* the middle class is squeezed

From: Grant Cardone

Why it works:

  • The asterisks catch my eye immediately, as does the use of all-caps.
  • “PROOF” makes me curious. I want to know more about what he’s proving… so I opened!

How you can use this:

Try unusual characters in the subject line to interrupt what people expect to see. *DO IT!*

#2: Video can be awkward at first 😁

Why it works:

I love the word “awkward.” It’s fun to say and read. And the emoji isn’t used much in subject lines, so it was a nice addition. I also like how he’s speaking to a problem many people have, and offering reassurance… in a light-hearted manner.

How you can use this:

Relate to your reader’s fears and worries, and help them relax. Use emojis when appropriate (but don’t overdo it).


#3: 📣 Schedule Posts & Track Fan Engagement — FREE!

From: Snips Media

Why it works:

Another emoji that’s right on the mark – a megaphone fits perfectly with the title. It also is value-driven, as it’s telling me how I can accomplish something of interest to their readers (and that it’s not going to cost me — even better!).

How you can use this:

Lead with value, throw in an emoji, and make it free. I’m in!

#4: “We’re meeting at 2pm ET today, right?”

From: Matt McWilliams

Why it works:

When I read this I was slightly in a panic. Did I forget something in my calendar? Oh no! So, I opened. he  Matt McWilliams, you got me.

He went on to talk about a free webinar he was offering (which honestly, I didn’t attend – but I was tempted!).

How can you use this:

Add a little mind trick — but don’t be a jerk about it. This worked because it was a legitimate offer to meet.


#5:“SICK & TIRED of Being FAT, SICK and TIRED?”

From: Brian Johnson

Why it works:

So much I can relate to here… and maybe you too? Am I right or am I right?! I don’t mind the caps because it’s a problem that many people feel passionate about (and if you know Brian, you know he’s passionate about helping people deal with health issues).

This also works because who’s going to say “No” to that question? (One word of advice – don’t ask a question the reader can answer “No” to!)

How you can use this:

Don’t be afraid to be big and bold. Let people know what you stand for, and get your message out there.


Now, the flops:

#1:“THE final: [3] Nadal vs [4] Thiem – Barcelona Open 2017″

Why it flops:

Wow. A lot going on here. They have capitalized words, numbers in brackets, and a hyphen – and I honestly had no idea what they were talking about. I honestly thought someone’s 2-year-old  had hijacked the keyboard. I did a little research and realized it was soccer… and this was NOT a soccer list.

How you can avoid this: Don’t overwhelm your reader. Use emphasis selectively and get your point across without confusion.

My rewrite: “Barcelona Open: THIEM for the WIN!”


#2:“May Newsletter”

From a local salon

Why it flops:

Boringzzzzz.

How you can avoid this:

I advocate simplicity, but that’s not the same thing as BORING! Give me something – ANYTHING – to hook onto.

My rewrite: “May for Moms! 20% off all services!” or “Your Neck Misses the Sun – Schedule your trim today.”


#3:“We Appreciate Your Feedback”

Why it flops:

Once more, BORING. Nothing in this makes me want to open. DELETE.

How you can avoid this:

Try. Just a little bit… please? You can be simple AND entertaining.

My rewrite: “You Rock! Our Thanks Inside.”


#4: “[New post] Daniel Hansen’s New Science Fiction Fantasy!
Why it flops: 

While I’m in favor prefixes, this one flops. I know it’s new, otherwise you wouldn’t be telling me. This was from a general book announcement list, and it’s going to people who are readers, but not necessarily SciFi/Fantasy fans. So I don’t know who Daniel Hansen is, so his name doesn’t do anything here.

How you can avoid this: I’m more inclined to read the book  (or at least the email) if you give me a reason why.

My rewrite: “A Blend of Harry Potter and ‘Alien’ — Your Next Must-Read”


#5: “Congrats to Leonard Fournette!

From Tapatalk

Why it flops:

I have no idea who this person is or why I should be congratulating him. Next.

How you can avoid this: This is one of those cases where you gotta send people stuff they want to read. Tapatalk is a mobile online community app, and they are randomly pulling posts and sending them out as updates — even to people not in the communities. This is a sure way to get me to unsubscribe (which I’ve done).

My rewrite: “Here’s that picture of Hugh Jackman” (now THAT is something I’d open!)


The upshot: The subject line is the headline for the email. If you don’t get it right, people aren’t going to read any further.

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