Let’s Get to the Subject: Provoke People to Open Your Emails

Email Subjects 7.15.11 Crop
This is your attendees’ inbox. Stick out with snazzy subject lines.

Let’s get to the subject for today’s blog post.

Writing email subject lines is tricky. When you’re sending emails during your event planning process – whether it’s to a vendor, potential sponsor, or marketing to attendees – subject lines are the first thing that folks see when your note debuts in their inbox.

We usually write our subject lines at one of two points: it’s the first thing we write, before we’ve crafted our story; or, it’s the last thing we do, quickly putting something in the subject line before hitting the send button.

Both of these are dangerous habits to develop. The subject line can be the most influential part in getting folks to open your note. Let’s make sure we put the time into it.

How to do it:

Leave the subject line empty until you have finished writing your email. Review what you wrote. Ask yourself:

– What is the story here?
– Why do I want people to open this?
– Why would I open it?

From there, start crafting your subject line. Play with verbs. Evaluate your word choice. Is there a call to action? Does the subject reflect your brand’s voice?

Once you’re confident that the answers to these questions is a resounding “yes!”, hit send.

Look at What Others are Doing

I get a ton of email in my personal account each day. I am sure that your emails are just the same. There is no way that we can read all of the communication from the brands we talk to.

Instead, look at the emails you do open. Ask yourself, why did you do so?

Eventbrite’s event evangelists and I recently went through this exercise. Here are some that we came up with:

Is Math Effective (Or Affective)?, from Grammar Girl – Asking a question is a great call to action. Questions give the feeling of conversation, and suggest that there is something urgent we need to know.

Sweet Pants of Liberty from Bonobos – Pun on a well-known saying. Fun and playful. Great little play on words that is consistent with their brand voice.

You’ve Got Something in Your Teeth … from UrbanDaddy Boston – Personal, conversational, and makes us wonder what it all means. Come to find out, it’s for an iPhone app that allows you to discretely notify friends if they have food lodged in their teeth. Hilarious. Delivered in subject and story.

You Probably Look Terrible With Your Shirt Off from Moosejaw – The subject catches us off-guard and makes us laugh. It sticks out, even during a quick scan of our inbox. It also gives us a great idea of the brand’s voice before we’ve even looked at the email.

Top Eight Reasons Men Fall Out of Love from eHarmony – Using numbers suggests that the information in the email is easily digestible. There is also an element of exclusivity and “secret” here; there is info known by some people (men) that is not known by other people (women), adding to the secret-sharing idea and the urgency of “need-to-know”.

Now, It’s Your Turn

Does this feel like English class yet? Good. (Actually, that question would make a great subject line, no?) I’m going to make it even more so, by giving you homework.

Do what our team did and comb through your email. In the comment section, tell us an email subject from a brand and why you were compelled to open it. We’d love to see what you think are strong subjects out there, and what we can learn from them as we market and plan events!

What will our next subject be? Join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date.

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Eventbrite's Community Manager.

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  • […] Letâ The subject line can be the most influential part in getting folks to open your note. Make sure you emails punch into inboxes by following these subject line tips. Read More » […]

  • If your subject line doesn’t pull- you can be offering anything at all, no matter how valuable or on target- it’s all in vain.

    Before you email someone, you might want to read some of their tweets- and get an idea of what they like and how you can use that to make your email relevant and clickable- form the subject line and on in.

  • The funny thing is that until I read this article, I never even paid attention to the subject lines. As I read back through my inbox, I could only think one thing– YAWN! *NONE* of my emails caught my attention, except for the EventBrite newsletter. Well, done, people, and THANKS for the tip!

  • my last mailing went out needed a good subject line. so i wrote, “True Story: I once blew up a keyboard in Germany”.

    well of course once i wrote that, i needed to tell the story first thing in my email. it worked great.

    so sometimes you really have to cater your email to the subject line (i wouldn’t recommend making a habit of it though).

  • I scan my inbox for emails from friends, then I look at subject lines. This one intrigued me…

    “Why Am I Getting Rejected? Learn What You’re Doing Wrong and How To Fix It” from Writer’s Digest.

    I’m making note of your suggestions so I can be sure my email is opened in the future.

  • @Carolyn Great example! Asking a question is always a good tactic, and this one taps into any writer’s need. Thanks!

  • @Elliot Too funny! It’s true – there are always exceptions to the rule. Also, sorry to hear about your keyboard.

  • @Tracy Awesome! So glad that you enjoyed the Eventbrite emails and content. Hope that these tips help and that you continue to swing by the blog!

  • @alikoh We hear you, loud and clear! We’re looking into our opportunities for this and hope to update soon! Thanks for checking it out.

  • This article got me thinking: I realize now that I opened emails and Facebook inboxes by first looking at the company name or friend’s name and if I am interested in what this company or friend has to say then my eyes moves to the subject line.

    However, by the time my eyes get to the subject line I have already decided subcontiously to opened the email or message.

    Now when I create my event pages on Facebook I will write in the what are you planning input as such: MY COMPANY NAME: MY EVENT NAME.
    This will help my customers to identify my brand in their Inbox. Before they could not because my messages showed up as just the event name and the event page’s picture as the thumb.

    This will make a big difference for me.

  • Good idea. I think it’s smart to never get comfortable – keep trying new things to gather learnings and see what works. Above all, don’t be afraid to be creative and have some fun.