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The best subject lines are ones drawing attention without turning people off. Let me qualify what you will read below by saying that I've been using email marketing for recruitment purposes over the last 6 years. I have been successful at it while working for many different clients in various industries and recruiting for all levels. If you want more credentials simply pick up the phone and give me a call and I would love to share some stories with you. Traditional direct email marketing schools will preach that a response rate from 5% to 10% is successful. Some of the best email marketers out there can get as much as 55%. Keep in mind those emails are what you and I call junk mail, SPAM or mass marketing. In contrast, my targeted recruitment emails are responded to 80% of the time. That has quite a bit to do with your target, the email content, your timing and the source of the email as much as the subject line, but the subject line is the one which most often entices people to read the message. You have just a few seconds to catch their eye. The amazing thing is negative headlines work the best. I won't get into all the other aspects of getting an 80% hit rate, but lets look at some easy guidelines to follow when writing emails that at least get opened:

1.) Create curiosity

Subject: Stop being an Internet Recruitment Failure - Discover 10 Ways to Get Your Email Read!

Most people are programmed to respond to negative information. Just look at the news headlines. People react to negative stimulus since childhood. "NO! STOP THAT!" always got their attention when they were growing up. Most people have more negative memories than positive ones. For that reason people will react more predictably to a negative statement first, and be drawn in by the positive one after that.

"Stop Being an Internet Recruitment Failure" would make you stop and read the email. Then "Discover 10 Ways to Get Your Email Read" would get your email read. Its important you are clear about your subject. Don't write a subject that misleads or is unrelated to your email. If anyone feels like they are being tricked when they start reading your message and it doesn't match the subject they will instantly delete it and may even add you to their "SPAMMER list".

Subjects that are vague and ask a question are very effective. Look at the subject of this email "Subject Line Hooks Don't Work - Frank, Have you seen this?" This works because people are curious by nature. They can't help themselves but open the email when you ask a question that is vague. The above subject has a negative intro "Subject Line Hooks Don't Work" that is very related to the content of the message, as well as a vague question.

In brief, when creating your subject ask yourself these ABC's of writing a catchy line:

•1.      Action Can I be more interactive? What am I eliciting them to do? Can I make it more compelling?

•2.      Benefit Why should they bother to open it? What's in it for them?

•3.      Clarity & Conviction Can I be more clear or concise? Can I say the same in fewer words? Am I convincing? How am I removing skepticism?

2.) Don't tip your hat

You don't want a subject to give away the whole content of the message because then it won't be opened. If you tip people off to what you have before you explain it they are much less likely to open it. The subject doesn't sell your requirements, its sole purpose is to get people to open your message. They have to open your 'sales' letter so you can have an opportunity to sell. You are selling all the way. You sell people to open your mail, then you sell your idea in the message in such a way that they will respond and take action. It doesn't matter if they buy your idea, go to your website, call you, forward the email to someone else, or reply. Any one of those means you were successful.

3.) Style

    * Don't use ALLCAPS - this turns people off all the time.
    * Use "you" or "your" - sometimes you can't use their name but this makes it more personal.
    * Be free of spelling and grammar errors - any errors will turn people off instantly.
    * Read it out loud - does it ring well? If not, they will not think so either. Have five friends read it. They can tell you if it rings. Einstein once said something like ........"No problem can be solved from the perspective which created it." I know that was not the exact quote but the point is you are too close to the subject to be impartial. A few impartial eyes will make a big difference. Be open to what your friends say. Once you have a few catchy subject lines you can use them over and over, even adapt them to other subjects and so on.

4.) Establish a control

Trying all this advice is not going to help you unless you can tell what worked. Use email filtering software or the wizards in your email client to track what happens to your responses. You an insert a code into the body of your message at the end, or even into the subject message itself. For this example you are reading a message with the subject: "Subject Line Hooks Don't Work - Frank, Have you seen this?" so you could create a filter or wizard that took all the replies with that in the subject line and places them in a separate folder. This way you can tell how many responses you get. Of course, that only works if you know how many you sent out, so it would be wise to copy the ones you sent into that folder as well. Another idea is to also have a code way at the end of your message. For example the date and version of your email like this:


This way when people reply with the original body in their email you can have a wizard or filter sort for "012802v:1" and place all those in a separate folder. Then you can change your subject line and that new one would be "012802v:2" or something like that. Of course every once in a while you will get someone who replied with a different subject and doesn't include the original text. That happens. The only way to track those is to keep a spreadsheet of the addresses for people to whom you sent email and then compare those odd ones with your spreadsheet so you can track them.