Scared Of Writing Email Subject Lines? How Fear Can Be A Good Thing…

I was very interested to read a blog post recently that considered the persuasiveness of a subject line and how it conveys the message of the email.

Take these two examples:

  • 10% off all our t-shirts
  • Do your t-shirts look like this?

The first subject line attempts to persuade the recipient with a clear incentive. And incentivised marketing is one of the first places most marketers will go when devising a campaign.

The second example however is more beguiling. It taps into that very human emotion – fear.

If you are fearful that you might not shape up, then that could actually be a very convincing motivation and could be very persuasive.

But fear and incentivisation aren’t the only options here. Consider these, for example:

  • Curiosity – Exclusive t-shirts designed by Victoria Beckham
  • Benefit – The t-shirt that will make you look thin and sporty
  • Newsworthy – Announcing the world’s first paper t-shirt
  • Scarcity – Only 10 t-shirts left

Interestingly, in the experiment (it was a B2B example), the email that tapped into fear – do your t-shirts look like this? – was actually the most effective.

It’s important to remember that there is no one size that fits all (if you’ll excuse the pun). Different recipients will respond better to different types of subject line. Some might be more effective for B2B, some better for B2C. You might find that younger recipients are more likely to respond to incentives whereas older demographics could be persuaded by fear or curiosity.

The key here, of course, is testing.

So, next time you embark on a new subject line, think about how persuasive it is and how you convey this to your recipients. We’d love to hear what you find does or doesn’t work.