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:“An email a day for 16 YEARS?!

From: Jaime Masters/Eventual Millionaire

Why it works: This is a perfect example of using intrigue/curiosity with surprise, while still hinting at the value to come.

How you can use this: We’ve talked before about layering – value + curiosity + surprise = WORKS.


#2: “She’s the WORST marketer…EVER!

From: Ryan Lee/Freedym

Why it works: I had to open this — we get so many emails about the BEST of this… the TOP of that. But this turned the common hook on its head and I bit!

How you can use this: Be unexpected. Disrupt people’s expectations by turning the ordinary, the expected, upside-down.


#3: “LAIN, come back to Jiffy Lube (R) and Save!”

From: Jiffy Lube

Why it works: Another great layered subject line: Personalization plus “what’s in it for me?” was a winning combo. I knew exactly why I should open. And I did — even though I don’t use Jiffy Lube!

How you can use this: You don’t have to be cutesy. Be direct. If the offer is good, people will read.


#4: “WSJwine. Watch me sip, watch me rose”

From: RueLaLa

Why it works: RueLaLa does a great job of funny (or “punny”) subject lines that relate to current culture but in a tongue-in-cheek way. A great approach for a retail site.

How can you use this: What’s a quote or song lyric or movie title you can draft off of?


#5:“A Daddy of a Deal”

From: Paper Source

Why it works: Like RueLaLa, Paper Source does “fun” really well. They were able to combine a current event (Father’s Day) with a sale in an unexpected way. Well done!

How you can use this: If it fits your brand, don’t be afraid to play a little bit. It adds personality and interest.


Now, the flops:

#1:“NEW! MCDEM Weekly Preparedness Updates!”

From: Paradise Valley Neighborhood Email List

Why it flops: Explain yourself! If it’s new, obviously I’m not going to know what the acronym stands for. Government agencies are notorious for this – thinking we can read their acronym- and jargon-addled minds. We can’t. BORING. CONFUSING. BAD.

How you can avoid this: Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What information do they need to understand what you’re talking about? Don’t assume they have the same level of knowledge you do — they don’t.

My rewrite: “BE PREPARED with our new emergency updates.”


#2:“Ready to build your podcast website?…”

From: Internet marketer

Why it flops: Don’t ask a question that people can answer with an emphatic NO.

How you can avoid this: Um, don’t ask a question that people can answer with an emphatic NO.

My rewrite: “Time for a podcast website? Here’s how to know…”


#3: “remind me what your paypal email is”

From: Internet marketer

Why it flops: It screams “spam.” In the email itself the person offers to send you $ for making a time to chat with him – but it sent my BS filter so far into overdrive that I don’t believe him.

How you can avoid this: Don’t try to be tricky. Just be upfront about your intentions. It’s okay to be clear and open.

My rewrite: “Would you be open to this…?”


#4: “It;s my birthday…Giving you a cool “gift” :)”

From: Internet marketer

Why it flops: The typo in the subject line kills it for me. Looks like spam. Plus, the “gift” in quotes makes me think it’s not REALLY a gift but a sales pitch.

How you can avoid this: Focus on WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM. Not on the fact that it’s YOUR birthday (no one cares). Proof for typos — ALWAYS.

My rewrite: Not sure what to do with this one! I’d lead with the value you’re providing — not with a pseudo-gift.


#5: “compare leads to despair”

From: Internet marketer

Why it flops: I can’t decipher what this means. Am I being asked to compare leads? Or does comparison lead to despair? Or something else?

How you can avoid this: BE CLEAR.

My rewrite: “The sure-fire path to misery.”


The upshot: Internet marketers apparently need to up their games. I’m available for consults. 😉

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

Are you worried your message is too “fluffy?”

Are a coach, inspirational speaker, or other topic expert?

If so, you’ve got a bit of a challenge as you try to establish your unique message with your target market.

After all, so many people out there in the expert authority industry are claiming to offer “hope,” “motivation,” and “support.”

So how are you different?

One HUGE way you can separate yourself from the pack is by becoming ultra-crystal-clear on the applied VALUE you provide to your audience.

And by “applied,” I don’t mean pie-in-the-sky, watercolor-sunset-inspirational-quotes. I mean down and dirty helpful guidance on how people can use your unique perspective on the world to improve their lives.

Let’s face it: Pithy memes are a dime a dozen (literally — you can buy pre-made quotes on dreamy backgrounds for a few bucks!).

What most coaches and influencers NEVER consider, though, is how to take your perspective and convert it to a manner that people can actually use, TODAY, to make their lives better. And that needs to go way beyond “changing your mindset,” “thinking positive,” or any other feel good/power of positive advice.

It’s the difference between posting a meme that says, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right” and publishing a blog post about, “3 Things to Do When It Feels Like the World’s Against You.”

It’s like getting in shape: We all know that the common wisdom is to eat less junk and exercise more. But if it were that easy, we’d all be at our fighting weights, right? So telling us, “Eat better, exercise more” is pretty much useless. What we need instead is, “3 Ways to Outsmart Your Mind When You Don’t Want to Exercise,” or “Five Sneaky Ways Sugar Gets Into Your Diet.”

One is superficial, and one is concrete advice people can use, today.

So what do you do when you fear you are too “fluffy” and you don’t provide enough concrete value for your audience?

The answer is two parts:

1. It’s okay sometimes to be “fluffy.”
2. Not all content you create should be “fluffy.”

When working with clients, I like to think about their “body of work.”

I have goals for any individual piece of content I’m working on (to inspire, to “seed” the idea for an upcoming product or course, to teach, etc.). No one piece of content can do EVERYTHING. Which is why people shouldn’t just post one blog post and call it a day.

So each piece must be valuable in and of itself… but it should also accomplish something within the larger body of work, and the body of work as a whole should provide a 360 degree picture of your value.

For instance, one blog post may be very specific about a case study or success story of one of your clients. It motivates and inspires and also demonstrates your authority — but it doesn’t necessarily show ALL of who you are or what you do.

Another piece of content — say, a Facebook Live video — shares a bit about your backstory and where you’re coming from and why you’re so passionate about your mission. It’s awesome, but it’s more about the “WHY” than the “HOW.” And that’s okay.

And a third piece of content might be very “how to, 1-2-3.” It’s not rah-rah “You can do it!” Instead, it helps people accomplish one very specific thing.

I get concerned is when the overall content is TOO skewed one way or another. Like if everything you create is a “You rock! You can do it!” cheerleader/mindset piece with no concrete info on HOW to do it.

The exact balance or recipe depends on your audience and your message.

You may be very much a high-level inspiration type rather than a tactical, “here’s how you do it” type.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t provide specifics to your audience. (And this is where I see a lot of coaches/motivational professionals fall down… It’s the biggest complaint I hear about the personal development/motivation industry, that there’s a lot of rah-rah but very little direction.)

For instance, in a “fluffier” inspiration/mindset piece, you can put in calls to action, or next steps, or something that hints at the “how.” (I think you did a good job of this in the “vision” post — asking people to answer specific questions about their vision).

As long as you continually ask yourself, “What’s next? What do I want them to do? How can they go further?” and then you convey that to your audience, you’re in good shape.

Let me know how else I can support you-

PS This blog post might help you too.

How to Create Subject Lines That SHINE

You can’t get people to buy if they don’t read your offer.

You can’t get people to read your offer if they don’t open your emails.

So… if you’re a marketer, you’ve got to have great subject lines or your audience won’t open up.

I have 10 tips for making your emails much more clickable and it’s all about your email subject line.

1. Remember you’re entering a day in progress. As I go through my inbox, I see emails from my dad sending me a photo, my kid’s school, client work updates, and marketing emails. Everyone’s email is like that. You can’t assume that your audience is waiting for an email from you. You are disrupting them in what you want to be a good way.

2. Focus on your recipient. How do you disrupt your audience’s schedule in a good way? Make your emails about them. You have to focus on the recipient. What’s in it for them? It’s not about what you want to say. Think about the value you’re providing for them. Are you educating, entertaining, or informing them?

3. Incite curiosity, not confusion. There is a difference between inciting curiosity and being confusing. Inciting curiosity means hinting at some sort of value whether it’s letting them in on the latest gossip or sharing information. Email subjects like, “The #1 Tip to …” are better than subject lines that consist of random words that don’t make sense coming out of nowhere. If you aren’t careful, your email can end up looking like spam, so focus on creating curiosity.

4. Don’t rely on tricks. You can trick people only once. If you’re in the marketing or business space, you might have seen emails that say “I’ve Got Money For You” or “I Tried to Send Money to Your Account”. Then you open it and see that it’s spam. You can trick people into opening your email once, but once you’ve done that you’ve blown your credibility. Let’s not rely on tricks, let’s rely on old-fashioned value. Be upfront and have a lot of integrity when you’re communicating.

5. Always provide value. If you have a compelling offer and you convey that in a clear manner focused on your reader, people are going to want to open your email. Don’t focus on tricks, hacks, and persuasion techniques. Just provide value and focus so much on that.

6. Respect your reader. Don’t play tricks on them, don’t talk down to them, just straight up talk value and people will like it. It’s a conversation. You don’t want to be the one who’s always selling. You don’t want to be the person who is constantly talking in a conversation and stops anyone from getting a word in and you don’t want to do that with email either. Make sure to respect your reader.

7. Don’t write to a mass. Don’t treat every recipient of your email equally. Because they all joined at different times, they might have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention an event from one month ago. You aren’t talking to a mass of people, you’re talking to individuals. Your audience joined at different times for different reasons and they’re all coming from different places, so treat them as individuals.

8. Opt for clarity over cleverness. I love cleverness and wordplay, but if it just confuses people, it’s not worth it. I’d much rather see a direct email offering 50% off or a new schedule than some tricky thing that doesn’t make sense. Be careful when you’re trying to get your audience’s attention so that you don’t lose them with cleverness.

9. Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume your email list opened your last email, knows who you are, or purchased your product. I get emails all the time that I don’t remember signing up for. It can look like spam, especially if you’re treating your email list like they should know who you are. Assume nothing and educate them.

10. Catch Attention Authentically. Don’t go out of your way with 47 emojis or crazy language in your subject line. Just be authentic. Your audience wants to engage with people who are real, so be yourself in a clear and compelling way.

P.S. Get this list in a handy PDF format here!