Why Your Email Subject Line Shouldn’t Be a Yes/No Question

If the secret to success of an effective email subject line is to grab the attention of someone with a potential interest in your product or service, you can be forgiven for thinking that the simplest way to determine that interest is to ask a Yes/No question. For example:

Missing Too Many Project Deadlines?
Spending Too Much $$ on Software Maintenance?
Frustrated with Poor Application Performance?

The risk with Yes/No questions is that they put the onus and responsibility on the reader to decide whether or not he or she has a problem in the first place. If that answer is no (and remember, the reader may have the problem you’re describing but simply be unaware of it), you’ve lost him or her immediately.

A more effective alternative is to translate questions into benefit statements. For example:

Eliminate Missed Project Deadlines
Slash the High Cost of Software Maintenance
Increase Application Performance up to 1,000 Percent

That way, if your readers perceive the problem you describe, they’ll open your email and read further. More importantly, even if they don’t perceive the problem, they may open the email anyway if your benefit copy addresses an issue (ex: save time, money, frustration) that impacts their day-to-day responsibilities.

Excerpted from the Spear white paper: “Top 10 B2B Email Marketing Mistakes.”


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