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Simple Email Marketing for Makers

Lesson 18 of 25

Writing Email Subject Lines (That Get Opened!)

Megan Auman

Simple Email Marketing for Makers

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

18. Writing Email Subject Lines (That Get Opened!)

Lesson Info

Writing Email Subject Lines (That Get Opened!)

Let's talk about subject lines. So, for all of the things that I love about email marketing, the one thing that is a challenge is that you have to get people to open up based solely on what's happening in the subject line. That said, I do not want you to stress the subject line. It's important, but it's not so important that you should spend an hour thinking about it. Just pick something and move on. Now, don't worry. There's more to this segment than that. I'm not just gonna say, "Pick something and move on." I've got some suggestions for you. But at the end of the day, sending an email with pretty much any subject line is better than not sending the email, except for, like, "News from Megan." Please do not send that. Please do not send generic, like, "Megan's Newsletter," "News from Megan," "Here's What's Up." No. But other than that, pretty much any subject line is fair game. So, what makes a great subject line? The best subject lines incite curiosity. That's what makes someone open...

the email. They're curious about what's inside. But if you can't incite curiosity, if it's not working for you, then go for specificity. Let them know what's going to be in the email. Tell them why they should open it. Don't tell them literally. Please don't be like, "Open up for blah, blah, blah." Instead, you should just get to the point and tell them what's gonna happen in here, right? "The sample sale has started." It's pretty obvious. You can also apply any of the principles of stickiness to writing your subject lines. So, you can be concrete. You can think about unexpectedness. You want to keep your subject lines short. So here's the thing to remember: Most people now are going to view your email on their phone. I cannot tell you how many emails I get with these long subject lines, and I check all my email on my phone. I have, like, eight different email accounts. I don't want them on my computer, so it's like everything goes onto my phone so that I can basically answer or move everything off of there in, like, two seconds, and then I just deal with the longer ones on my computer. And I get all these emails where I can't read, like, three-quarters of the subject line. So the shorter your subject line can be, the better. Another thing is to use language that emphasizes that something is new. If it's new, tell them. Obviously, if it's not new, don't lie. But people want to see what's new. We like new. So if you can, emphasize that in your subject line. I'm gonna show you guys a couple of examples 'cause it doesn't always have to be the word new. I use the word introducing in a lot of emails because it works. They're like my best open rates. So I just use it all the time, like, "Introducing the blah, blah, blah." I don't use that, like, two weeks in a row, but I use it frequently. The other thing is give people a reason to look. Imagine that you are trying to get someone to look at something in real life. "Hey, look at that bird." None of you looked because you were all writing. (audience laughing) It's not fair. But, like, imagine you were doing that, right? You wouldn't say, "Hey, look at the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah specific." You would say, "Look at that bird," and then people want to know what that bird is, right? So give people a reason to actually look. Imagine what you would say if you were trying to show them the thing in real life. So, I want to give you guys some examples of subject lines that I've used that have had the highest open rates. So I literally just went through my email and pulled out a ton of subject lines, and we're gonna stay, I know this is tiny, so we're gonna stay on this slide for a minute and talk about them. So this first one, "Like a badass pearl necklace," that's a quote that someone said about my thing, but it's such an example of unexpectedness, right? Like, what does a badass pearl necklace look like? This one, again, seems to work for some reason, this, like, "One necklace, eight ways," shows a little bit of use that tells them what's happening in there. This one is so cryptic, but people wanted to see, "Look what I found!" "Well, what did you find, Megan?" Like, of course you're gonna open that. And then anything that kind of conveys newness, so literally, "New earrings have arrived." I don't know why I use language "arrived" because I make them, but for some reason that works in my brain, so I use it a lot. This one again, "Earrings are big for spring," but I think it was this idea that big was, like, the only capital word that kinda called people's attention. Here it is, "introducing." I use introducing all the time. I think I only put in a fraction of the introducing emails that got the most open rates, like they really work. So, "introducing mixed metal stacking rings." This one, "Oops, I totally forgot "to put this necklace in the sample sale," but again, it's this idea of this necklace, right? So what is this necklace? If I had said, "Oops, I totally forgot to put the Alice necklace in," it may have gotten opens 'cause you may not know what the Alice necklace is, but this idea of this necklace is much more powerful. These next two, like, "The sweetest 'little' stone," and then, "Introducing 'tiny,'" the idea of, like, well, A, Megan doesn't make small things, and B, why is she putting that in quotes, that's enough to incite some curiosity. And then again, "Introducing," really works, I gotta say, at least on my people it works. And then this one here, "This stone is stunning!" Right, again, "This stone," so what is this stone? They want to go look at that. This is an outlier and might be an example to me that I need to make my subject lines shorter because this "Oval obsession" got really good open rates, and I think it says the idea, like, well, what does that mean? I want to see what the oval obsession is, right? So it's kind of this, like, you're alluding to something, but it's not super there. Again, "Arriving soon," so something new to look at. Oh, "Arriving tomorrow," you guys see a trend here, right? "Introducing new jewelry for May." So you guys start to see kind of what's working here, right? There are some themes happening. So, a good suggestion, but you don't always have to follow it, is if you're not good at coming up with subject lines, start with the body of the email first, or at least come up with your general theme, then write the subject line. That said, you can work backwards. I'm not gonna lie. I write a lot of my subject lines first because I've been doing this long enough that that's just how my brain thinks. Like I heard my friend say, "Like a badass pearl necklace," and I was like, "Well, of course that's the subject line. "Now what would that email look like?" And then, again, I like to do this in Evernote or a doc or something because MailChimp is actually gonna ask you for your subject line before it asks for the body of the email. So I like to write the body of my email first, write my subject line if I haven't, and then go back and copy it all in there. You might also want to brainstorm two or three different subject line ideas for each email 'cause you can always use them later. You can use them on a second email. We're gonna talk about not split testing, but this other secret strategy I have in a minute. So you can always use them later, so maybe come up with a couple different ideas. Play with the language a little bit. But then start to pay attention to subject lines that work on you. Borrow from your email role models. What made you open that Matt & Nat example that I showed? I forget what the subject line was, like "Double trouble" or something with "Double," and I was like, "Oh, that's interesting. "What's in there?" So pay attention to what works on you, but more importantly, as you start sending more emails, pay attention to what works on your customers. Because your customers and my customers are different. So I can show you the subject lines that work best on my customers, but your customers, they may not respond to that. So, for example, my customers do not respond well to words like trend or trendy in the subject line, like it just falls flat. They do not care. So I stopped using it. Even if I know that something is on trend, right, when I go to promote these earrings, even though I know that statement earrings are, like, a huge trend for this year, I'm not gonna put that in my subject line because they do not respond well to that kind of language. So start to pay attention to what works for your audience. Now, when we're talking about subject line, something that comes up is this idea of split testing. So if you're unfamiliar with this term, split testing is simply sending two different versions of an email to small portions of your list to see which email performs better and then sending the winner to your entire list, right? So you have two subject line ideas, you split test, you send them out, the winner goes out to everybody. Here's the problem. Split testing is not designed for small lists, right? You can't split test when your list is little because there's not enough people. So instead, I like to do a second sneaky strategy. So, what do you do if a subject line doesn't land well? Right, you've sent it out, and it just does not, people don't open. And does not do well is relative, right? So as you email your list, you're gonna start to see what the range of open rates is for your list. And everyone's list is different. And I will say that, generally, as your list gets bigger, your open rates are probably gonna go down a little. That's a good time, as Michelle asked before, to, like, get rid of some of that dead weight on your list, right? But so you are kinda gonna start to see approximately where your list is in terms of average open rates. And if you have a subject line that doesn't do well, doesn't get a lot of opens, it doesn't mean that you missed an opportunity. So what I like to do is this sneaky little trick where you send the same email with a different subject line to everyone who did not open the previous email. So I recommend waiting about 18 to 24 hours to do this. Usually if I send an email, and I don't like the open rates, I'll wait 'til the next day, and I'll send it again with a different subject line. And MailChimp makes this super easy to do. So when you're in MailChimp and you go to send out a campaign, we're actually gonna look at, we're gonna create a campaign in a little bit, you can send to your entire list, but you can also go here and create a group or new segment. So what I'll do then is I'll create this group or new segment, and then what I'm gonna do is Contacts match any of the following conditions: Campaign Activity, did not open, and then whatever my previous email was. So if this "Bronze is back" email did not perform very well, I'll send it out again to that segment with a different subject line. Really sneaky easy way to get more mileage out. That second email is gonna have a low open rate just because that's the part of your list that is less engaged in general, but it might mean that another 100 or so people see that email, and it also might mean that some of those dead-weight people are, like, "Why is she emailing me again? "Unsubscribe," and it gets rid of them too. So that's why I really like that strategy. I don't use it every week, but I use it when I feel like a subject line underperformed or if I'm doing a sale or a big launch or a big event where I want to make sure people see it. Those are the two times that I use that, so not all the time. I would say I use it on maybe 30 to 40% of my emails. Alright, so any questions about that? You guys are, like, all good? (audience laughing) Do you guys feel like you're good with, like, now you have ideas, you're starting to feel like, you're like, "Stop talking, Megan. "I want to go email my list." (audience laughing) Alright. Do we have any from online? I think we're good. I have one interesting one that came up, and we had a few people vote on this one, so not applicable to what we were just talking about, but I'm curious to get your take. We have somebody who is building their list, but they have two different kind of customers, and some of their customers speak Spanish, and some of them speak English. And they're trying to figure out a way to combine them into one email list, or should they totally separate them and have their Spanish list and their English list? Ah, so that is a fascinating question, and I think in this case, that is the one case for setting up groups within a list, Right. where people check an option when they sign up, so it's like, "Would you like these emails "in English or Spanish?" And then, now you can just send emails to each of those segments. And you could even do that with your existing list. You could say like, "Hey, guys, "can you please, like, tell me," and I think there's a way to add people to groups manually in MailChimp. Google that one. I'm not 100% sure how to do it. But like, "Hey, guys, let me know. "Would you like to get these emails in English or Spanish," and then just start to divide your list out that way. So it's a great question, and I think that's the easiest way to answer that.

Class Description

Email can be one of the most powerful tools to market your business, connect with your customers and—most importantly—make sales!
You have your email list, but what do you do now?
Simple Email Marketing for Makers will give you the confidence to write, design and build an effective email that will drive people to your online store to purchase products.

Megan will take you step-by-step through her process of creating compelling and product-focused emails that will get more click-throughs and steer interested customers to your website.

In this class you will learn to do the following:

  • Get your email marketing set up the right way, using the right software
  • Turn social media followers into email subscribers
  • Develop the ideal email frequency for your specific business
  • Use email to cultivate customer loyalty

If you feel stressed about how to reach your customers via email, or it’s taking you too long to write and create an email, then Simple Email Marketing for Makers will solve all your email marketing woes.

Don’t Fear the Send!



What a great class. It's easy to watch thanks to the bite-size classes (in some of your other courses, segments are too long) and Megan's almost every sentence is packed with easily actionable, immediately implementable tips. She knows what she's talking about and delivers it with super likeable confidence. And I learnt SO MUCH invaluable stuff. Super recommend this class to all creative makers that desire to connect with their audience and sell sell sell


This class is amazing! Megan is fantastic! She really relates information in such a way to give you a real understanding of the subject and breaks down each step. I took pages of notes to implement right away. She really motivates and gets you excited about growing and building your business! Thanks so much Megan!

a Creativelive Student

I've been emailing my list weekly consistently for more than a year, and I still took away a ton of great information! I learned so much that will help me plan more quickly, get the emails written faster, and - best of all - make them more effective at converting into sales. Thanks so much, Megan!