I Wrote a “Perfect” Subject Line (It’s “…a b’nch of dum Nonsense”)


Whoa! I just escaped from Bizarro World where everything is backwards.

Up is down. Beautiful is ugly. And…

Terrible (subject lines) are “perfect.”

Let me ‘splain…

My client — let’s call him Michael — asked me for help to write a subject line for an email he’ll send next week to a purchased list.

The list vendor recommended four subject lines — all of which stink.

But the list vendor assured Michael the subject lines “tested well.”

So I visited the website with the “Subject Line Tester” the vendor recommended and discovered (cue ominous cello music)…

I’d landed in Bizarro World.

I drafted a few subject lines (far better than the ones the vendor suggested), and the tester spit back scores of 42%, 56%, and 58%. (The vendor’s terrible subject lines all scored 92% or better).

Regarding the subject line that scored a 42, the automated tester said it was too long (41 characters), had too many words (seven), and didn’t contain any “helpful” words.

I clicked the link to the list of helpful “words” which included: “Back in stock,” “special,” and “you” — among many others.

I figured I’d play along, so I crafted a subject line that met the tester’s criteria (cue drum roll):

“Back in stock bag of rocks”

That earned an 83%.

I knew I could do “better.” So after considering options, I thought, “What if this subject line had FEWER letters?” The result:

“Back in stock bag o’ rocks”

Changing “of” to “o'” raised my score to 92%.

“Hmmmmmm,” I thought, “I’m really getting the hang of this Bizarro subject line thing.” 🤔

I tried again:

Available: A bunch of dum nonsense

92% again. Bizarro-ly good (“Available” is a helpful word). But I hadn’t reached the summit yet.

Time to replace a letter with an apostrophe! I typed in my revised subject line, held my breath, and pressed submit:

Available: A b’nch of dum nonsense

Blow the horns and tap the tambourines! I scored 100% 🎉 🥳 🍾

The tester declared: “Incredible! You’ve mastered the art of writing the perfect subject line.”


(“Incredible” is ONE word for it.)

Now that I’ve escaped from Bizarro World, and I’m back on Earth, it’s time to reveal the moral of this story.

You may find this bizarre, but this is NOT a story about how to write subject lines.

This is a story about clueless marketing advisors who rely on dum machines to dispense nonsensical advice.

Do not make the same mistake.

If you don’t know the difference between good copy and bad, the dum machine can tell you anything, and you’ll buy it.

If you deploy a machine to conduct research, analyze content, or draft copy — without giving your machine proven, intelligent guidance and frameworks — your dum machine will spit out dum stuff…

…but it will sound smart doing it.

That’s how a list vendor dishes out terrible subject lines that “tested well.”

That’s how you conduct unintelligent marketing — even though your artificial helper is supposedly “intelligent.”

Want to write better subject lines?

A while back, Dean Isaacs and I ran a 5in25 Training (5 tips in 25 minutes) called: “5 Tips to Write Irresistible Subject Lines and Headlines So Prospects Tune In and Read On.”

Reply to this email with “Bag o’ Rocks,” and I’ll send you the replay.

One last thing…

In case you don’t know the reference, “Bizarro World” was a fictional planet called Htare (Earth spelled backwards) in DC (Superman) comics.

On Bizarro World everything was backwards. The Bizarro World code: “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!”

Don't go away yet..

p.s. Coaches, authors, and consultants hire me to power-up their creative content and storytelling to captivate prospects, stand-out and book more business.

Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Get the Story Power Profit Pack -- 52 Strategies, Tips, and Tactics  to Transform Your Content from Ignored to Adored.

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3) Become a Story Power VIP: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Twice-monthly live masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

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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.