You want to know the best word you could use in your email subject lines?
No, that’s not it. Jokey joke. That word just came to mind. Which tells you a little something about me. Although if you sent an email with “Phlegm” and nothing else in the subject line, I guarantee you’d get a surprisingly high open rate. Which tells you a little something about other people.
But the best word you can use in email subject lines. Believe me, you want to know this, because:
And therefore, you want to know the best word you could use in your email subject lines.
So here’s a HINT: I’ve intentionally used the best word at least 15 times in the paragraphs above, and it’s a big part of the reason you’ve read this far.
The word is YOU. You you you you you.
Because as you know well, it’s all about you. Because people’s favorite topic is themselves. Because people are self-centered pricks.
Okay, I’m sure there was a nicer way to deliver that last line. Not everyone is a prick. Just almost.
Seriously now, after creating tens of thousands of emails over the decades, after thousands of A/B tests, no single word boosts open rates more on average than YOU (and its variations like your, you’re, you's etc.)
Yes, it’s true that adding people’s first names to the email subject lines can be at least equally as powerful, however:
a) Only if you do the first name game sparingly. Overdo it or do it wrong and masses of people will catch on – “Hey wait a minute… the CEO of Macy’s didn’t actually personally send me, Jake, this email about their fifth one-time-only sale this month…” – and it can erode trust and backfire.
b) As your elementary school tried to teach you while you were passing notes to friends, “you” is a pronoun of a person’s name anyway. However, unlike a first name, you can use “you” a whole helluva lot more in your email subject lines.
Check this out:
10 Top Ways to Build Bigger Biceps
That’s a good subject line, assuming of course your market is bodybuilder dudes versus grandmas into knitting. Now try…
Top 10 Ways You’ll Build Bigger Biceps
Small change, but that subject line is even better and will get more opens. When people skim their email inbox, their eyes subconsciously slow down on the "You," their favorite topic, and take in the idea of the surrounding words. If it holds the promise of improving their lives – and because bigger biceps are the key to happiness, it definitely works in the example above – they open the email.
You get it, right? So your turn. Read the following subject line:
How to Cut the Risk of Bone Fractures in Half
Your homework is to take that subject line above and improve it based on what you just learned.
Are you done yet?
Okay, how about now?
If you revised it to…
How to Cut the Risk of Phlegm in Half
... you weren’t paying attention. You’re a failure.
If you revised it to…
How to Cut Your Risk of Bone Fractures in Half
... you rock. You win. You’re one step closer to massive email marketing success and fame and wealth and cool cars and buying brand name paper towels and employing illegals to clean your house and raise your kids. You you you.