Adams Hudson has published a list of his most successful eletter subject lines, and the one I used to set the title for this blog post indeed is just that . . “I didn’t see this coming.”
Hudson speculates that the email would have been even more effective with some personalization, to create the wording:
“<Steven>, did you see this coming?”
Email (article/website) headings are indeed important. They can be used and abused. Take the “fake news” sites which of course don’t need to worry about any sort of truthfulness in playing to the biases and emotions of their intended audience.
Yet, you can still ethically play around with different headings, and with proper tools, test them, with A/B samples. Hudson provides some other gems in his eletter, linked here. (It is right that I send you to him rather than just borrow his ideas.)
If you want a ‘go to’ list for subject lines, there are a few absolutes. Choosing “you” or their actual first name, plus “this” as it hints at what is a click away, or ask a good question, or make an admission or bold proclamation. Those are always reliable (more in a moment).
However, I didn’t feel the #1 most opened line (with nearly 4,000 ‘opens’) was anything super special. Just shows that testing is more conclusive than hunches, and that people can always surprise. Of course, as a perennial tester of marketing results, imagine the boost of the above when you add…
The nifty thing about Hudson’s resource is you can take the sample headings and quite quickly adapt your emails to them — and then run your own tests. He also provides variations that are useful for business-to-consumer as well as business-to-business marketing.