Subject Line: Why Do So Many Marketing e-Mails Suck?


Because they aren’t interesting to read.

Seriously, that’s the problem. The sending company thinks the reader is interested in – and going to read –  their marketing message.

Fat chance.

Your reader has anywhere between 16 and 400 other emails in their inbox that need their attention. Most of them are about unpleasant work subjects, with the one from Mr. Gloom about the 4th quarter spreadsheets particularly giving off a strong “This will not be a good read” vibe.

So your email about the features and benefits of whatever crap you are selling doesn’t hit home (no offense meant, mind you, but “crap” is exactly what it is to the reader at this point).

In short, your email failed because…

You didn’t interest them.

You didn’t make them smile.

You didn’t make their day any better.

They know this just by reading your boring subject line and stale intro.

They’d stop your emails altogether, but they’re  too lazy to hit “unsubscribe”. They’d have to open the email to do that anyway – it’s easier to just hit “delete”.


Truth be told, email marketing is hard.


So how do we fix this? How do we get more of your emails read and acted upon?

For every company / product / service, the answer will be a little different. But the general thought is you need an interesting subject line – something to pique the curiosity a bit and maybe make them smile.

That’ll help in getting the email opened.

Then, once opened, you need to engage them right away. Because another e-mail is awaiting their attention (Mr. Gloom still looms. Freaken’ spreadsheets…)

But back to the emails. I usually try to make them laugh, or at least smile a bit.

Sometimes though, depending on the product or service, I’ll hit them with an important pain point first. It all depends.

Hopefully, if you’re still reading, you’re starting to realize “yea, this guy can write. Maybe I should have him write some emails for me.”

Which is prettymuch my goal here.  Time to ask you to contact me. Then I’ll get to a few more email points. 


E-Mail Marketing FAQ (aka Dan’s Rules for E-mail Marketing)

What is a Good E-mail Open Rate?

There really is no universal number that fits all situations. It’s going to depend on your list, the product, etc. For some companies, it might be as low as 2%. For others, 25% is solid. But in general terms, most businesses would consider 15-25% pretty good. This is assuming your recipient list is high quality.


How Often Should I Send Marketing Emails?

Again, the answer will depend on your business. For example, if you’re a store with weekly specials, then at least weekly. But for some businesses, less is more. And some might want to do daily. It all depends on you, your readers, your products, etc. 


How Long Should Marketing Emails Be?

Depends on what you need it to do. Shorter is usually better, but not always (don’t you love ambiguity?)

Maybe you want the email to tell a story. That’s cool – let’s do that (this works great, especially if they start looking forward to reading your emails.)

Maybe you need it to lead somewhere (like a landing page). Great, let’s say enough to get them to click the link.

Have a goal for the e-mail. Then write for that goal. No more, no less.



Should Each Marketing E-mail Have a Hook?

To me, a “hook” would be a reason to read it, so yea.

Now this could get interesting. Remember earlier I mentioned a store with weekly specials. So your “hook” really is the weekly special.

But I’d argue that isn’t enough.

You see, they are expecting the weekly special. Big deal… but what if each email ended with a fun phrase or observation*. At first it would seem strange and out of place. But after awhile, assuming they are good enough, it will be something readers look for. Even if they don’t care about the weekly special. That can skyrocket open rates.

For other types of email, especially if it’s over the long term, I want the emails to almost build a relationship with the readers. Get them used to a “nice / good / funny / engaging” email from you. That’s your automatic hook. Make them *always* open your email because (gasp) they like reading it. That’s really, really powerful.




*Bringing a dog named “shark” to the beach is a bad idea.