Become an email subject line master in 15 minutes [Part 4 of 5]

Yesterday I introduced you to the Salience Network and the 6 different types of stimuli that capture the attention of our brains and get people to open emails.

I said I was going to share nothing but subject line examples and formulas so let’s get to it.

Remember that our brains give attention to 6 different stimuli:

  1. Things that are novel.
  2. Things that are unexpected.
  3. Things that are pleasurable
  4. Things that are rewarding.
  5. Things that are personally relevant.
  6. Things that are emotionally engaging.

Now, like I said before: The 6 stimuli are not mutually exclusive. You should include at least 1, but combining 2 or more is the absolute best-practice.

I’m going to share all examples from golf niche because you probably don’t need any more subject lines from make money marketers or copywriters to study. This is what real-life email subject line "mastery" looks like.

Things that are novel

Example 1

This works because the word "new" is novel. Golfers who are struggling have heard nearly every swing trick in the book, but "throwing the club at the ball" might be weird. And if it’s not, it’s still something they’d want to read about. After that, GOATS means "Greatest of all time". Every golfer is interested in what the best players in golf are doing.

The Details Why It’s Novel:**- The use of the word "new".

  • Throwing the club might be a new term.

Elements of other stimuli:– Unexpected: "How to Throw the Clubhead"

Power words & phrases:– "How to"

  • "New"

Formula:– "[New]: How To [Unexpected X] Like [The Best People In Field] Do"

Example 2

This works for golfers because sports celebrities are "news" and D’Angelo Russell recently stirred up some controversy. Plus, we have an unexpected connection with a basketball star playing golf.

The Details Why It’s Novel:– News about a sports celebrity.

Elements of other stimuli:– Unexpected: Basketball player & golf

Power words & phrases:– "Private"

Formula:– "[Niche Celebrity’s] Private [Lesson/Session/Call/Coach/Information]"

Things that are unexpected

Example 1

When I was growing up, my baseball coaches always told me to never play golf because it’d ruin my swing. This is unexpected because golfers would generally associate anything baseball related with being bad for their golf swing.

The Details Why It’s Unexpected:– Baseball vs golf.

Elements of other stimuli:– Rewarding: It’s not spelled out, but fixing your drives would be beneficial.

  • Personally relevant: If someone is struggling with their drives this speaks to them. And the use of the word "your".

    Power words & phrases:– "Fix"

  • "Your"

    Formula:– "[Unexpected X] can fix your [Niche Problem]"

Things that are pleasurable

Example 1

This Salience Network stimuli is used the least. But this is a good example of how it could work. Golf is a leisure sport and thus pleasurable on it’s own. Vacations are pleasurable. Dreaming is pleasurable. This subject line has it all.

The Details Why It’s Pleasurable:– Golf, dreaming, vacation.

Elements of other stimuli:– Rewarding: Vacations are always viewed as beneficial.

  • Personally relevant: Use of the word "your".
  • Emotionally engaging: Vacations can equal happiness

    Power words & phrases:– "Dreaming"

  • "Your"
  • "Vacation"

    Formula:– "Start Dreaming of Your Next [Niche] Vacation"

Things that are rewarding

Example 1

Most of the best subject lines will promise a benefit, either outright stated or inferred. This particular subject line works because it has a current benefit people want: swing speed. "Gain 10mph on your swing." They could have said, adds 10 yards to your drives but this is more modern. And adding a desirable time dimension to end makes this subject line flush with benefits.

The Details Why It’s Rewarding:– Gains: "10mph on your swing."

  • Learn it fast: "60 seconds."

    Elements of other stimuli:– Unexpected: Most other golf marketers talk about distance, not swing speed.

  • Personally relevant: Use of the words "you" and "your".

    Power words & phrases:– "You"

  • "I’m Going To Show You"
  • "How to"
  • "Gain"
  • "Your"
  • "In X Seconds"

    Formula:– "I’m Going To Show You How To [Gain modern desire] In [Desirable Time Dimension]"

Things that are personally relevant

Example 1

You might have noticed that most of the personally relevant subject lines have used the words, "you" or "your". But a specific problem or how a golfer identifies themselves can be personally relevant too. Most golfers would identify themselves as "amateurs".

The Details Why It’s Personally Relevant:– Identification with "amateur".

Elements of other stimuli:– Pleasurable: People love to shop for new toys.

Power words & phrases:– "Re:" (I personally don’t like this use-case)

  • "Perfect"

    Formula:– "Perfect [Desirable Niche Product] for [Niche identification]"

Things that are emotionally engaging

Example 1

This was written by my good buddy Sean Ogle. Stories are the most emotionally engaging bits of copy you’ll write. For subject lines, you can also just use one of these words: Happiness, Surprise, Contempt (Embarrassment or Shame), Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger.

The subject line works because of the word "surprised" and the story inferred. "Why would a price drop be surprising? It must be a valuable product."

The Details Why It’s emotional engaging:– Surprise

Elements of other stimuli:– Pleasurable: Shopping for product.

  • Rewarding: A price drop means a better price.

    Power words & phrases:– "This"

  • "Surprised"

    Formula:– "This [Price Drop / Anything Unexpected] Surprised Me…"

Wrapping up:
These are just a few subject line examples and formulas you can try.

If you’ve done your work with branding so your "From Name" has a positive association, and you couple it with at least 2 of the 6 Salience Network stimuli, you’ll be able to create winning subject lines that get opened.

But there are a couple tricks I want to show you, and you might have already noticed one of them, that will put these subject lines on steroids (as the marketers like to say).

I’ll explain those tricks in the final email on subject line mastery tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

  • Derek