Let's Get to the Subject: Provoke People to Open Your Emails

This is your attendees' inbox. Stick out with snazzy subject lines.

Let’s get to the subject for today’s blog post.

Writing email subject lines is tricky. When you’re sending emails during your event planning process – whether it’s to a vendor, potential sponsor, or marketing to attendees – subject lines are the first thing that folks see when your note debuts in their inbox.

We usually write our subject lines at one of two points: it’s the first thing we write, before we’ve crafted our story; or, it’s the last thing we do, quickly putting something in the subject line before hitting the send button.

Both of these are dangerous habits to develop. The subject line can be the most influential part in getting folks to open your note. Let’s make sure we put the time into it.

How to do it:

Leave the subject line empty until you have finished writing your email. Review what you wrote. Ask yourself:

– What is the story here?
– Why do I want people to open this?
– Why would I open it?

From there, start crafting your subject line. Play with verbs. Evaluate your word choice. Is there a call to action? Does the subject reflect your brand’s voice?

Once you’re confident that the answers to these questions is a resounding “yes!”, hit send.

Look at What Others are Doing

I get a ton of email in my personal account each day. I am sure that your emails are just the same. There is no way that we can read all of the communication from the brands we talk to.

Instead, look at the emails you do open. Ask yourself, why did you do so?

Eventbrite’s event evangelists and I recently went through this exercise. Here are some that we came up with:

Is Math Effective (Or Affective)?, from Grammar Girl - Asking a question is a great call to action. Questions give the feeling of conversation, and suggest that there is something urgent we need to know.

Sweet Pants of Liberty from Bonobos – Pun on a well-known saying. Fun and playful. Great little play on words that is consistent with their brand voice.

You’ve Got Something in Your Teeth … from UrbanDaddy Boston – Personal, conversational, and makes us wonder what it all means. Come to find out, it’s for an iPhone app that allows you to discretely notify friends if they have food lodged in their teeth. Hilarious. Delivered in subject and story.

You Probably Look Terrible With Your Shirt Off from Moosejaw – The subject catches us off-guard and makes us laugh. It sticks out, even during a quick scan of our inbox. It also gives us a great idea of the brand’s voice before we’ve even looked at the email.

Top Eight Reasons Men Fall Out of Love from eHarmony – Using numbers suggests that the information in the email is easily digestible. There is also an element of exclusivity and “secret” here; there is info known by some people (men) that is not known by other people (women), adding to the secret-sharing idea and the urgency of “need-to-know”.

Now, It’s Your Turn

Does this feel like English class yet? Good. (Actually, that question would make a great subject line, no?) I’m going to make it even more so, by giving you homework.

Do what our team did and comb through your email. In the comment section, tell us an email subject from a brand and why you were compelled to open it. We’d love to see what you think are strong subjects out there, and what we can learn from them as we market and plan events!

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