#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: “Learn How to Drive Conversions Using Sniply”

From: Snip.ly

Why it works: Simple. Direct. Value-driven. What’s not to love?

How you can use this: Start with a clear value statement. Sometimes that’s all you need for a great subject line.

#2: “This is why I got sent to the principal’s office every week”

From: Nagina at MasalaBody.com

Why it works: Why WOULDN’T you open this? Personal story + intrigue = CLICK.

How you can use this: Got a great story to share? Give a hint and then DELIVER. (Remember, though, that it should tie into your overall message and provide value to your reader.)

#3: “Fail Your Way To The Top!”

From: Buck Books

Why it works: I love the counter-intuitive value provided here.

How you can use this: Turn common advice on its head.

#4: “Your audience is not your ATM”

From: Melanie Duncan

Why it works: Melanie’s bold statement also ties into a common annoyance — treating your email list or your market as your “money tree.” So I was glad to see her address this!

How can you use this: Take a position! Be bold! And protect your people. 🙂

#5: “This 26-Year Old Spends Her Days Inventing New Candy Flavors”

From: Fast Company

Why it works: So many good things going on. “This 26-year-old is compelling;” we want to know WHICH one. This works so much better than simply using her name. And inventing candy flavors? Fun, entertaining, and unusual.

How you can use this: Think about leaving out key pieces of info to up the curiosity quotient.

Now, the flops:

#1: “Baratunde Thurston published in Noteworthy by Medium Staff”

From: Medium.com

Why it flops: It has no interest and makes no sense to me.

How you can avoid this: Give people a reason to care.

My rewrite: “He’s got something to say — and you should listen”

#2: “Announcement: You’re eligible for a chance to earn ink rewards”

From: Staples.com

Why it flops: Duh, of course it’s an announcement. And making a big deal about a program I’ve participated in for years is just silly. It’s not news.

How you can avoid this: Don’t email unless you have something interesting, new, or different to share. Otherwise, why bother?

My rewrite: “Earn 2x Points on Ink This Week ONLY”

#3: “5 Things No One Tells You About IVF”

From: a parenting site

Why it flops: This is like a negative-10 on the relevance scale.

How you can avoid this: Again, make me care! Give a hint as to what the “secret” is so even someone who’s not in the IVF market would be interested.

My rewrite: “IVF made me a blonde” 

#4: “Do you use [insert specific software program]?”

From: online marketer

Why it flops: I don’t use that specific software, so I deleted.

How you can avoid this: Don’t ask a question people can answer with a “no.”

My rewrite: “[Software Program] Can Save You 10 Hours a Week — Why Aren’t You Using It?”

#5: “The Millionaire Mindset”

From: an Internet Marketer

Why it flops: Trite. Vague. Could come from ANYONE.

How you can avoid this: Write a subject line only YOU can write.

My rewrite: “How One Simple Change in Thinking Generated Seven Figures in One Year”

The upshot: If you don’t have something interesting to say, don’t email!

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

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