A great subject line and why it didn’t work…


When a top-notch copywriter forwards to me an example of great marketing, I pay attention.

My buddy Adam is one of the best copywriters I know. And yesterday, he forwarded to me a subject line that caught his eye.

The subject line: “MIT Device Cuts Power Bills By 65%”

Adam said, “That’s about as good a headline/subject line as I’ve seen in a while.”

I agree.

Adam outlined what makes it so good: “Proof, Curiosity, Specificity, Huge Benefit, Implied story, Concise.

I’ll explain Adam’s list in reverse order.

Concise: No wasted words. To the point. Excellent!

Implied story: Before, you’re frustrated by sky-high bills. After, you’re celebrating with a big, fat wallet. Powerful stories evoke before-to-after journeys. This subject line evokes a journey people want to take.

Huge benefit: 65%. That’s not teeny.

Specificity: The subject line didn’t say, “Cuts power bills” (period). It said “…by 65%.” The specificity captures our attention and makes it more believable.

Curiosity: It leaves you hanging. What is this device? Readers want to know. They’re curious.

Proof: “MIT” lends authority. This device came from a premier tech college. “MIT,” alone may not prove the device works. But it’s a piece of evidence to make the claim more believable. Marketers call such evidence “proof.” The more proof, the better.

So here’s the ironic twist about this great subject line:

Adam didn’t open the email. And if he had opened the email, he wouldn’t have clicked any links.

You see, Adam spotted that subject line in his spam folder. The email was from some dude Adam never heard of.

And that, dear reader, leads us to the big lesson:

If you want people to open, click and act on your emails, it’s best if they know, like, and trust you first.

As Adam told me, “It doesn’t matter how good the headline is if you don’t trust the person it’s coming from.”

One way to build trust: Weave powerful storytelling into your social media, blog posts, emails, and other marketing content.

When you tell powerful stories, your prospect’s brains release a chemical that acts like a love potion so they like and trust you more.

When you write story-powered social media posts, prospects are more likely to engage. When you write story-powered emails, prospects are more likely to open and click. When you write story-powered blog posts, prospects are more likely to read to the bottom. Stories captivate prospects and inspire them to act…

…so you book more meetings…

…and you close more sales.

I show you how to do it in a free, live training next week: How to Harness the Magnetic Power of Stories…” Details and registration here.

Thanks for reading.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.