Put the drama of your entire message in the subject line

As you know, one of our favorite ongoing rant subjects is digital excellence (or lack thereof).

In theatre, the show starts long before an audience member settles into a seat (assuming they ever do).

It starts the very first time someone reads one of your Tweets. Or receives one of your emails. Or looks at your web site. All on their mobile, of course.

The real production is the digital show – because it determines whether anyone will ever come to see the actual live show.

The show is always on. There is never a moment when you are interacting with a potential audience member that the show is not on.

And yet when it comes to possibly the most important channel there is – email – theatres big and small all over the world still do not get how important a good subject line is.

You spent all that time crafting an amazing message. But the truth is a recipient is going to decide whether or not to open the email based on the subject line alone.

In a longer post we went into this and suggested what to do.

So here’s a simple quick refresher, focused on what NOT to do.

Following is a list of words, phrases, and other items that should never, ever appear in one of your subject lines. If you see any of these in your subject lines? It’s probably a good indicator that you need to go back and take a look.

the letter “e” stuck on the front of anything (unless meant as parody)
a note from
a message from
today’s date
the name of your theatre (which should be clearly visible in the FROM)

You with me?

To get people to the real show, you must start with a dazzling digital show. So start the drama of the experience you are offering right there in the subject line. You have 4-7 words to convey the entire experience on offer.

You might be preparing to put on the greatest play in the world. but if your subject line reads, “We hope you will join us at our play”, you may have just killed your potential audience dead from boredom.

Get creative. Your mission with a good subject line is to stop the recipient in their tracks, penetrate the digital haze like a bunker buster bomb, and make them want to read your message right then and there – because they can’t bear to not know what happens next.

And remember – the subject line is a proxy for the quality of the show. To the audience, what does a horrendously dull subject line infer?