10 Oddball Email Subject Line Formulas That NEVER Fail

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October 09,2014 by
Perry Belcher

If it don’t get opened it ain’t gonna get read.

I’ve probably written 10,000 email subject lines over my career and until last year I had never really thought about how or why some work and some don’t.

So last week I spent a full day going through five email clients, sorting out the winners by click through only and what I discovered was really cool.

Our highest open rate email subject lines out of over 3,000 we had data on ALL followed one of 10 formulas.

Here they are in reverse order of commonality…

#10 Distract Their Attention.

EXAMPLE: “Did you see these 4 girls fight?” [VIDEO]

You might recognize this is the number one opening line for pickup artists, and dating experts. The shock factor alone peaks the reader’s curiosity.

#9 Make a Prediction

EXAMPLE: “Amazon to buy Google in 2014, how to profit”

People love predictions. Take a look at a National Enquirer in December and you’ll see the entire cover riddled with predictions for the coming year.

#8 Report News

EXAMPLE: “Obama CUTS Social Security Today by 12.77%”

Newsworthy items are easy to find. Remember, when you use a news headline you need to spin the news to your message inside the body.

#7 Quote a B.U.D.A.

EXAMPLE: “New York Times: New software KILLS banking”

A B.U.D.A. is a Big Undeniable Dominant Authority. The New York Times, Amazon, Google, the FDA, the President of the United States etc. When they make quotes that prove your points, it’s great to use them as subject lines.

#6 Extend an Invitation

EXAMPLE: “Your VIP Warroom Invitation Inside” [Open Now]

Exclusive invitations are rare invites for your readers to become part of something special.  Make it clear in your subject line that your reader is invited to something and they’ll open up.

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#5 Offer a FREE Gift

EXAMPLE: “Free WEIRD Little Knife Enclosed – OPEN NOW”

Now were getting in the saucy stuff — volume. Offer a free gift and you will get the most opens to your email. Be sure that the readers don’t feel tricked once they get inside.

#4 Pique Curiosity

EXAMPLE: “The ODDBALL Widget ENDS Toenail Pain [PIC]”

Curiosity killed the cat. And curiosity will get people to open your emails. Websites like popurls.com are a great source curiosity driven headlines.

#3 Flatter your reader

EXAMPLE: “Only for YOU The Top 2% of CEOS” ß Exclusive

Everyone wants to feel special. This is a law of human nature. Flatter your readers and let them know that they’re in a very special group.

#2 Promise a benefit

EXAMPLE: “Have more energy than a 12 year old again”

As obvious as it seems, people still fail to demonstrate benefit or a “what’s in it for me” for their readers in their subject lines. This is the single most powerful force to get opens from your readers.

#1 Ask a question

EXAMPLE: “Would you do THIS for money?” [VIDEO]

Lastly, everyone wants to give you their opinion. Opinions are free and usually worth exactly what you pay for them, but your readers if asked, will respond, or at least open the mail.

There you have it, the top 10 formulas for email subject lines. We write multiple versions of these for each promotion we do and we never run out of email creative.

Here are a few other weird little facts…

Numbers in subject lines almost ALWAYS increase response

EXAMPLE: “4,526 people did this and lost 6,839 pounds”

Weird characters almost always increase response

EXAMPLE:”® Hoffman Richter Brand Knives 62% off”

Weird words like “Weird” almost always increase response

EXAMPLE: “Screwball Brain Scientist’s 3 WEIRD Discoveries”

Combine these 3 little tricks and the 10 formulas above and you should easily DOUBLE your email open rates overnight.

Remember… you HAVE to be congruent inside the body or you’re just pissing up a rope.

“SUBJ: Naked pictures of your mom” is gonna get opened, but if it’s followed by…

“Great news! Now you can save 15% on your car insurance by switching to Blyco,” you are totally screwed.

Here is the test, when you complete your email subject lines ask yourself these three questions VERY honestly…

#1 Did your subject line LOOK different and stand out from all the others in their email box?

#2 Did your subject line look too valuable to simply delete without opening?

#3 Did your subject line get your prospect to open your email with the proper expectation and mindset to what’s inside?

Pass all three and you have a winner!

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P.S: Please share your best email subject line open tricks, and let’s all help each other get better results…

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Write a quick autoresponder email series that sells a product or service on autopilot.

Click here to access your Execution Plan

Not a Lab member? Click here to learn more about DM Lab


Perry Belcher

About Perry Belcher

Perry Belcher is a co-founder of Digital Marketer. He is an investor and well-known sales strategist specializing in authority marketing, channel selling, and email deliverability. Connect with Perry on Twitter, LinkedIn, and about.me.

View all Posts by Perry Belcher