The ‘Best’ Email Subject Lines Aren’t Always the Best

By Alex

April 24, 2022

Let's get 2 things straight right here, right now:

1. The world is full of sleazy fuckers.

2. People are selfish.


Whaaaaat? You want me to expand? 

OK, here goes. When you embrace the idea that you need to send a newsletter regularly and that it should form an integral part of your marketing activities... most people zip out and download a list of 'proven email subject lines'.

Those cheat sheets/swipe files are stored locally by the authors as "sleazy things marketers say"! aka what we now term clickbait.

And yet... people are selfish. 

Everyone wants something for nothing. Everyone wants to know what's in it for them. Everyone wants to know why the should do something for you.

We know this when we send our products or services to market - and we know damned well we've got to sell some sizzle with that sausage and appeal to the 'selfish side' of our buyers with the want, want, want, NOW! 

Not every marketer is going to be comfortable using those clickbait titles - and, despite the authors swinging from the online marketing trees screeching "Yes, I've cracked it - I hold the one true power that will make ANYONE buy" 🥱... the reality is more complex.

Because you're not a sleazy fucker and you want to be an ethical marketer, it can be hard to mesh this ideal with appealing to the 'selfish side' of humanity.

So what do you do?

Copy and paste these 'proven email subject lines'? Or... write your subject line in a way which is going to appeal to your particular audience? 

For most female entrepreneurs working online their target is other women - who DON'T want "Sleazy Don" the car salesman coming on strong at them.

*Buying a car = "show me everything you have in blue". Just me? Bueller? 😳

The Subject Line Experiment

The easiest way to get your emails opened and read is to send "consistently good shit" - but it doesn't hurt to optimise the headline - so let's dive in.

I've never really bought into these template-style subject lines which feel clickbait-y - but, I wanted to know if they'd work.

My readers are used to a particular style of writing from me, honest, informative, providing value, a big dollop of dark humour and random shit.

The experiment is super-easy to conduct and saves you a WHOLE SHITLOAD heap o' time trying to figure out which is the 'best' headline for your newsletter.

Use A/B testing within your email program (I use *ConvertKit).

A/B testing means that you enter two different headlines (A vs. B) - the email program sends a small percentage out to our readers split A/B an after a few hours looks at how many opens/clicks the emails have got, picks the 'winner' and sends the rest.

Well I have been consistently + pleasantly surprised.

Frequently, the headline I think is the KILLER - or one of those from the proven headline formulas falls flat.

Turns out sure, 'people are selfish' - but of COURSE they don't like the clickbait-y being sold to headlines - and they often pick the more 'dull' headline over the one you thought was absolute gold.

Stop stressing out about a 'perfect headline formula'. Just hit send and LET YOUR AUDIENCE DECIDE.

It's lazy AF, but the audience wants what the audience wants and who are we to argue? 

All these headline testing sites which predict open rates etc., don't have access to YOUR specific audience - and that's where the magic comes from

*Denotes affiliate link - if you use my link and go on to buy, I may get a small commission and treat myself to a coffee. ☕️

Leave a Comment... I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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About Alex Sheach

Alex is an expert strategist with a flair for expressive writing which connects with her audience and evokes emotion.

She believes in the power of harnessing the written word and using it to demonstrate expertise, confidence and clarity when marketing online businesses.

She's anti-BS, anti-fluff and embraces grown-assed methodology for growing an online business with authentic Sales & Marketing strategies.

Nae drama!