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Lay it on the Line

If you want your e-mail to get opened, craft a compelling subject line.

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This story appears in the April 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

For e-mail marketers, the biggest challenge today is gettingyour pitch past a prospect's hair-trigger delete impulse--notto mention his or her spam filter. It's akin to the challengedirect marketers had when mailings only came in envelopes: Will itarouse enough curiosity to get opened, or will it be trashed? Eventoday, the outer-envelope teaser causes as much hand-wringing asthe guts of the mailing itself. So, too, does the subject line of amarketing e-mail.

What can you say in a subject line that is compelling enough tomotivate that all-important click? In Web Copy That Sells, author Maria Velososuggests you use the word this in subject lines: "This is sopowerful because it arouses the recipient's curiosity, and theymust open the e-mail to find out what this is." Examplesinclude "Who said this?" and "This finally came . .. ." She also suggests the word here, as in "Here'swhat I promised . . . ." Veloso wisely recommends usingincomplete thoughts and adding ellipsis points because they createa "brain itch" to know the completed thought inside.

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