Testing subject lines is one of the fundamentals of email marketing.
And today I want to give you a peek into some of my most successful subject lines of all time based on hundreds of split tests (and why they work so well). . .
Along with 3 tips for testing subject lines:
3 Tips for Testing Subject Lines:
1. Keep an archive of your best performing subject lines: Yes, we do this, and no, I won’t be sharing the full list – we keep this in a vault. I may be sharing some of it in the Next Level Mastermind in the future.
2. Pay attention and mine those subject lines for trends: Common words, structure, formatting, length, punctuation, trends that point you in the right direction for what to focus on.
3. Test the hypothesis: Test a subject line against something radically different.
Email is one of the fastest ways to get response. . .
Once you TEST subject lines and can confirm certain trends, now you can take that data and apply it to your ads, your sales page, landing pages, and more, making it a very efficient way to test different ideas.
Top 20 Subject Lines: Deconstructed
Now, let’s go through 20 of our best performing subject lines from the past year. These are the split test winners, along with my hypothesis of why they worked so well.
1. The Insanity of NOT Using this Technique
3. That’s IT! We’re Going Down to the Basement. . .
4. This almost had me in tears (NEW interview)
Our hypothesis was that highly emotionally charged words (“insanity”, “eureka”), and exclamations (“That’s IT!”) would get more opens.
And in fact. . . our hypothesis was correct.
5. Deep Dive Survey: No list? Do this. . .
6. Do this ==> Make money. Seriously.
7. 3 easy ways to use ASK in emails
8. How to use ASK based on your type
9. The #1 list building strategy I use (works in every market)
These subject lines fall into the category of “how to/do this.” People want specific tips in an email, they want to learn something. Teasing them with what they’re about to learn is a great way to get them to open an email.
10. THIS is a Test
11. Life happens. . .
These fall into the category of “painfully brief” leaving a huge amount to the reader’s imagination and sparking curiosity. They have no idea what’s in the email, and many will be curious enough to open.
12. My Secret Buzzfeed Experiment
13. Ryan’s Secret to Success? These 2 Words. . .
14. The “secret ingredient” in all my survey funnels is. . .
15. What I Left OUT of ASK
What do these subject lines have in common?
They promise to reveal a “secret” or missing information. There’s a reason that the word “secret” is used (and overused) in copy. . . it works. The human brain can’t resist the lure of something secret and unknown.
16. Does my profanity bother you?
17. Do you hate Donald Trump?
18. Why I Hate Black Friday
19. Hey, Look at Me, I’m Throwing a Tantrum! (Part 2 of 3)
These subject lines play on controversy, current events, or both. There’s also the element of HATE that plays on those strong emotional reactions. For better or worse, the word HATE tends to get a response from people.
Which brings me to my favorite controversial subject line of all time:
20. Do You HATE Me?
While this subject line might be a little shocking, I’ve found that’s why it works so well.
This is an email that’s part of my Ask Method.
Specifically, it’s an email asking your audience why they didn’t buy your product (or take you up on a special offer).
Here’s what a sample text for this email might look like:
Subject Line: Do You Hate Me? :-)
I need your help real quick, but first I need to ask you a question.
Do you hate me? :-)
(Note: The :-) is important to let your reader know what you’re saying is “tongue-in-cheek”)
I’m asking because the other day I gave you a chance to get OFFER XYZ, but for some reason you passed.
Did I not do a good job of explaining something?
Did I not do a good job of touching on a specific hot point that matters to you?
Maybe it was because of me. . .
Something I said, something I didn’t say.
In other words, do you hate me?
If you could just do me a favor and click on the link below to let me know. . .
What was the biggest reason you decided not to try XYZ product/service?
It would mean the world to me.
Here’s the link:
===>Click here to let us know
This leads to an open-ended survey form, or you can just ask them to *HIT REPLY* to the email.
And even though the “hate” part is tongue in cheek, the combination of using the word “hate” and implying that someone might hate you gives people the urge to respond.
Because even the suggestion that they might hate you often prompts your audience to leave you long and detailed answers in an attempt to show you that no, they don’t really hate you at all.
The ‘Do You Hate Me’ email might be a little scary to send at first, and you do have to know your audience (I like to use the winky emoticon to lighten it up for certain markets), but the feedback that you get will be worth it.
How to Come Up With Killer Subject Lines
There are many different places that I look for subject line inspiration.
The first place is to create a “swipe file” email account, subscribing to the top marketers and copywriters in your niche and others. Then, when you need ideas, you can flip through this account and get inspired.
Magazine headlines are another great resource. A good headline grabs people’s attention right away and even better, sells magazines.
When in Doubt, Test
You’d be surprised how many marketers I know that DON’T split test on a regular basis.
Doing constant A/B testing will help you get to know what your audience responds to the most, and build a stash of your highest performing subject lines for you to whip out when you really need them, like during a launch.
And, as I mentioned before, it gives you a great starting point for testing ads, landing page headlines, and more.
What is YOUR favorite or top performing subject line?
Which subject line are you most eager to test?
Have you sent out a Do You Hate Me email yet?
Sound off in the comments below!