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

All this week I’ve been talking about how I write email subject lines that get opens, clicks and generate sales.

If you’re an entrepreneur – if you’ve been reading my emails for any length of time, you already know you should be selling via email – that’s where your real money is going to come from.

I can’t tell you how many high six and seven figure solopreneur businesses I know who make nearly all their money from their email list. But to make that money you need to get your emails opened, which is almost entirely the job of your subject line.

That’s how important this is.

If you’re a freelancer – the same applies to you, except that you’ll be writing emails for other businesses… and if you can show that you get outsized results (aka emails that get opened, then get read, then get purchased from) you can command much higher fees – because you’ll be getting much greater results.

Either way, subject lines are a surprisingly important money maker.

You need to master them – so if you missed any of my emails this week, go back and check them out. You will make a lot more money next week by applying what I showed you this week.

Now, let me show you one advanced, but very simple trick, that will take your subject lines to the next level of irresistibility.

Thus far we’ve really only discussed "how to get someone’s attention."

That’s the first, and honestly, most important part of the equation. Attention alone is 80/20 of email subject lines.

Why? As you know, inboxes are crowded. There are lunatics out there like me who have 24,000 un-read messages.

However, you might have noticed in the examples that I gave that there was one other critical component included in the better examples.


Your email subject lines, whenever possible, should compel people to click by using mystery.

When you are curious, you have a strong desire to know or learn something.

People that are curious can’t help but click an email and open it.

And you can layer this curiosity right alongside, or on top of, the 6 different Salience Network stimuli.

How to create curiosity
Technically, curiosity is built by leaving out details. You need to have people guess at what the solution or method might be.

Another way to look at it is, "How can I create a little mystery that my prospect will feel compelled to solve?"

The absolute worst response you could hear from someone reading your subject line is: "I’ve heard about this before."

If someone has "heard about it before", they wont give your email a chance. They’re on to the next one.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate what curiosity is in subject lines, is to look at a subject line that has no curiosity what-so-ever.

Bad subject line example:
Golf getaway: rent, swing, relax

This subject line barely hits our Salience Network stimuli of "things that are rewarding". ("Relax" is the reward). And there’s absolutely no mystery or curiosity being built.

A simple switch might be:

Rewritten Better Subject Line:
#1 Ranked Golf getaway in California: rent, swing, relax

Okay, it’s still boring, but now at least there’s some curiosity. People will want to know what the #1 ranked location is.

Personally, I’d write it like this:

2x Rewritten Better Subject Line:
This is the #1 ranked golf getaway in California

And actually, an even better version of this would better take into account the Salience Network.

3x Rewritten Better Subject Line:
This is the #1 worst ranked golf getaway in California

The worst ranked course is much more intriguing than the best, because these "best ranked lists" are so common place in every niche.

Notice how we’ve taken a fully generic-sounding email with no attention or curiosity, and super-charged it.

Easy Curiosity-Creating Words
To create more curiosity, try using words like:

  1. "This", "These", "Those", "That".

    Example of "This":
    I’ve been waiting for this bag…

Notice that they don’t mention the name of the golf bag. If you do, you get people saying, "I’ve heard of this bag and it’s not for me." Or, "I already have a fine bag and don’t need another one."

When you replace the product or product name with "This X" it creates curiosity.

Here’s a subject line from the health industry that’s popular right now:

Health "This" Subject Line Example:
Doctor: Never eat this veggie

If you said, "Never eat carrots", that might be okay. Maybe it’s even novel. But it’s not curiosity building. There’s no mystery the prospect needs to solve, so many won’t bother opening the email.

  1. "Secrets"

    Example of "Secret":
    The secret to more up-and-downs

    Secrets work in the same way as "This".

    "How to make more up-and-downs" (a good thing in golf) has a little curiosity. You might want to know how.

    But if you say, "The secret to more up-and-downs" all of a sudden a valuable method or trick is implied.

    As you can see, curiosity is powerful when it comes to subject lines. Adding curiosity, or removing details, is almost always the solve for boring, un-clickable subject lines.

    To quickly review, the 3 components of a killer subject line are:

  2. Focus on building your brand name so your From Name field stands out.

  3. Include at least 2 of the 6 Salience Network stimuli in your subject line to grab attention.

  4. Layer in curiosity by removing details or adding mystery.

(If you need more info on any of these, look for the other emails I sent you this week.)

Congrats! You’re now an email subject line master.

If you found this guide helpful let me know.

And I’ll talk to you next week!

  • Derek