If you want to get more eyeballs on your sales copy...or engage with prospects or customers...it pays to NOT be boring. There's a variety of ways you risk being boring that you definitely want to avoid... --Flat copy lacking excitement, passion, or even simply the right adjectives --Not making it about the reader, but about you or your product --Sounding like everything else out there, with the usual predictable subject lines or lookalike headlines --Being too "neat and pretty" versus having something "off", whether it's an unusual word or saying something in a new or different way --Having the answer to whatever you're teasing about be obvious, versus dripping with curiosity that makes your reader HAVE to take action to find out the answer These are all common mistakes that even more experienced copywriters may find themselves making. But if you put every subject line, headline, and other copy you write through this mini-checklist to make sure it's "boring"-proofed, you'll avoid having your sales message deleted or ignored into oblivion. Because if you don't do these things...and you're not willing to take a few "risks" by sounding different...you'll end up getting THIS reaction from your jaded, seen-it-all-before, target prospect...
Back in July in a past Copy Insiders issue I talked about emails "that make you go hmmmm...." and shared some of my favorite, eye-catching subject lines and what made them work. I also did a few mini-breakdowns of some emails, including one of my controls. (You can read it here in case you missed it.) I've got a few others to share that have hit my inbox since...none can be accused of being anywhere NEAR boring! Let's take a look:
Breathe like THIS to live longer--I've seen this subject line and email multiple times ever since the pandemic hit. It's coming from the Institute for Natural Healing (INH) to promote a lung health protocol. Aside from its timeliness regarding a concern many have right now--and its obvious use of curiosity (you just have to find out what "this" is), it conveys that the solution is something simple and that you can do right away in order to get the desired benefit.
Remove This From Your Refrigerator Immediately--This subject line showed up in an email from Joe Barton of Barton Publishing (who I plan to beat in pool next time we can have a re-match in person!) It's one that you just have to open up to find out the answer to...because who doesn't wonder if they've got something scary in their fridge (maybe some Thanksgiving leftovers that have now become a science experiment? ) The link in the email sends you to a Steven Gundry, M.D. video selling something (I didn't watch, so I don't know the "answer" for you, but if you want to watch it here you go.)
Why actors never appear to age anymore--This appeared in an email from Green Valley that sends you to a brilliantly-written sales page for an anti-aging supplement (it was written by Dan Ferrari and I actually featured it in my first-ever issue of Copy Insiders, which you can find on my blog). This subject line taps into the same emotions the lead of this promo does (here's a link to the sales page so you can study it): one that the rich and famous enjoy an unfair advantage that the rest of us wish we had--and promising a way to let you inside the "velvet rope" of their privilege.
I've got several others I've collected...and have noticed most of my faves (in terms of being a bit "out there" and standing out from the rest of my inbox) are coming from the aforementioned INH and Barton Publishing. You may want to make sure you get on their lists (the surest way is to buy something directly from them, but they likely have free e-letters you can opt into as well) and then study what they send out. Especially those "crazy" subject lines like...
“Crazy” compound eliminates prostate cancer
Metformin Users Go Limp, Get Cancer
Stop COVID-somnia with the Astronaut Sleep Solution
Remove “male clog” in 15 minutes with this
Cancer-crushing powder stuns scientists [All it takes is a quarter of an ounce!]
“Quarantine Toxin” That Attacks Immunity
[Alzheimer’s bombshell] Re-fuel brain cells starting in 90 minutes
Note that many of these are for emails driving traffic to promotions for information products and not supplements--it would be quite risky compliance-wise to use some of the above for supplements. Now I want to share with you an email subject line I sent out earlier this week that got a LOT of positive feedback (and a lot of folks signing up for the Audience Expansion Summit that I'm appearing on today...it's not too late to grab your complimentary seat here! My topic is "Beyond List Building: How To Increase Email List Engagement".) I heard from Copy Insiders like Stefan Georgi, Michael Feldstein, and Mike Stenger how much they loved this subject line and how it made them HAVE to open the email: [First name], I mentioned you in this interview But one Copy Insider---Yusuf McNulty, who goes by "Mac" for short---loved it so much, he did his own mini-breakdown of it and the email I sent with it to his Facebook tribe and email list. So to wrap things up, I'm going to let Mac take the wheel and share his insightful analysis...
Subject: The best subject line I’ve seen in a long time!
Last night I wanted to post something on my FB profile but just couldn't think of anything worth writing about. It's not like I couldn't think of anything to write about, but just something worthy of being written. Forced writing has a bad vibe about it - at least for me anyway. Anyhow... There I was, and I had just about given up when an email hit my inbox. I opened up the mail app on my Macbook and I saw one of the best subject lines I've seen in such a long time. It was an email from A-list copywriter Kim Krause Schwalm. The subject line read: Yusuf, I mentioned you in this interview. Here's why this was so good: 1) It was ultra personalised. It completely grabbed my attention and stood out among many other emails. Not only did it use my name but it referred to a specific event. 2) Once I'd seen it, I couldn't ignore it. I immediately had to open the email to check what was inside. (BTW, Kim and I had a little email back-n-forth and she approves of this analysis, so it's got the Schwalm-factor.)
But there's also a third reason why this subject line was so powerful... Usually when something looks "clickbait" it's just that; clickbait. You're enticed to click or open something, only to be massively let down and disappointed once you see what's inside. Those negative experiences stay with you and you learn not to open such things from the people who send them. So that makes this subject line RISKY. I.e. Kim's taking a risk that she might seriously piss off and disappoint her list, who look up to her and consume her content. HOWEVER! Her email content was anything but disappointing. And in fact, it was nothing short of a masterclass when it comes to congruency. So, did Kim actually mention me in her interview? (Or anyone else who received the email?) YES, SHE DID. How?! Well, on that interview she mentioned her "Copy Insiders" <-- this is the name she gives to her email list subscribers. (Just like how I call my list MacMail. It's good to name things, it at least sounds cool if anything else, lol.) And it was an excellent email. Her interview was all about how to build an audience and form relationships, plus tactical stuff like how to attract high-qulaity prospects via different kinds of lead magnets, quizzes, etc. (I'll paste Kim's email at the bottom of this, in case you want to read it.) There's A LOT that can be learned from such an email, and when I update my guide on subject lines her's will without doubt be making an appearence. Right, it's getting late here in the UK. Let's call it a night. Signing out, -Mac
Thanks, Mac, for that great analysis--and for the shout out! That's it for this week's issue. If you haven't had a chance to do so, make sure you grab your free seat for the Audience Expansion Summit that's ending in the next day or two. My interview went live today and is available for you to listen to today ONLY at no cost. So be sure to check it out! Yours for smarter marketing, Kim P.S. In spite of all the great feedback on my [First name], I mentioned you in this interview subject line, it ended up NOT being my most opened-email of the year. That honor still belongs to the one with the subject line "Trump emails"...which you'll also find on my website blog. But in terms of that subject line's appeal, those days are probably numbered. P.P.S. Don't forget to sign up right now to hear the interview where I mentioned you and my other Copy Insiders! You've got till the end of the day today to hear it free.