These 3 Email Subject Lines Will Kill Your Chances of Winning a New Customer

spencerXsmith-stop-checking-inHow many times have you gotten an email from a salesperson with one of these three subject lines?

“Checking In”

“Touching Base”

“Following Up”

I’ve received dozens of emails like this and am guilty of sending a whole bunch of them too. Think about it: aren’t these just euphemisms for “Wanna buy my stuff?”

What to say instead of “Wanna buy my stuff?”

“What should I say instead?” you might be wondering. Following up is such a critical part of the sales process, and the last thing you want is to be forgotten by your prospect. What’s a way to follow up while simultaneously providing value?

Instead of emailing someone to remind them you would like to sell them something, use the opportunity to provide targeted education. What’s the best way to be sure you’re sending something that’s relevant, though?

After you earn a prospect’s email address, assign that prospect to a simple workflow based on their interests. This is difficult at first if you’re simply maintaining one catch-all email list. Instead of just one list, create a series of categories based on specific interests. John Jantsch does a great job describing this concept in his recent article titled Content 3.0 – The Rise of the Content Community. This community concept may seem a bit overwhelming at first, however, and you may be wondering…

What to do if you don’t have digital assets yet

If your business is struggling with this whole digital marketing thing, start with baby steps as you work toward a Content Community repository. To get started, consider this: What questions are your prospects asking you every single day that you’re manually answering via email or phone calls? What can you offer these prospects that is both concise and actionable? Simple digital assets like cheat sheets, checklists and templates work great in this capacity. Limit these downloads to one page so they can easily be shared or printed.

By offering specific assets geared at fixing specific problems, you can gauge your prospects’ interests immediately, and not be left guessing what issues they’re facing. Which asset do you create first? This is where we need to stop thinking so hard. What question do you hear more than any other? Create that one now.

As an example, if you’re a marketer specializing in SEO, you probably hear the question “How do I drive more traffic to my website?” all the time. For those prospective clients who download your “5 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make With SEO” cheat sheet, ensure your email messages further their education about that specific topic. That will be an email they’ll actually look forward to receiving.

How to get started right now

This is the part where I ask you to get out of your own way. Don’t analyze these concepts to death or over-automate your workflows…just start. Instead of retroactively applying these ideas to your existing email list – an incredibly daunting task if you’ve been in business more than a few years – start fresh with only new prospects. You’ll iron out the kinks much faster, and just as importantly, you’ll get to experience success early and often as a result of your efforts.


10.2 headshot2Spencer X. Smith is committed to helping clients achieve measurable increases in revenue from their digital marketing efforts. He uses Plain English to help you understand what methods are worth doing – or not doing – with your business. The ideas he shares are what he uses every day in his companies, and only through experiencing the success and failure can he confidently advise on them. He is also an instructor at the University of Wisconsin.


How to Convert Leads at the Bottom of your Sales Funnel


photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

Studies show that email marketing still converts, but many businesses are failing to convert prospects in their email sales funnel. These leads have already expressed an interest in your brand, so it’s not difficult to reach them.

Here’s an action plan to help you dive deeper and rise to the surface of your prospect’s inbox.

Problem #1

Your email is not personalized for the prospect.

The fix? Analyze the Conversion Path

Identify what motivated the client to join your email list in the first place and capitalize on that data.

Just as marketing strategies are built around buyer personas, it’s possible to segment your email list using persona data as well. Google Analytics can track new email subscribers, and tell you which landing pages are associated with new email subscribers. Already using Google Analytics? Log into your account, scroll down to the Goals section, and find out which landing pages are associated with email newsletter sign ups. Visit Analytics Help for more information on set-up and troubleshooting.

Action Plan

Use those landing page topics as the topic for your emails. While you can’t go back and get this information if conversion tracking was not set up, it’s never too late to start. Set it up, and use the information as a guide for the veteran subscribers. Once you’ve identified the most common topic that draws new subscribers in, focus on that topic to re-engage your email audience.

The next step? Create subject lines that are engaging and irresistible, centered on that very topic. Use tools like to expand on the subject, and offer readers engaging, helpful information that will encourage them to click through and take the next step toward becoming your client or customer.

Problem # 2

You’re sending emails at the wrong date and time.

The fix? Use the Data, Often.

Optimize emails for open rates, click throughs, and conversions.

Action Plan

Commit to sending emails only within those time frames that yield the most opens, click-throughs, and conversions. Every time a new email is sent, opens, clicks, and conversions should be analyzed. For example, does the beginning of the school year affect your open rate? Perhaps your prospects are getting an earlier start on their day, and your email timing will need an adjustment. Regular, consistent analysis can give your team the key takeaways needed for ongoing success.

Here’s a sample of email marketing tools that can help you manage this task:

  • MailChimp offers a “send time optimization” feature, so you can implement and test using your list as a source of information.
  • gives a very granular report on the best days to send emails, and drills down into data such as the best day to send an educational email vs. an actionable email.
  • If you’re looking for some alternative suggestions to the status quo, Vertical Response offers some thoughtful suggestions.

Problem # 3

You’re not giving them the right CTA.

The fix? Use the data.

Look at the sales and customer service cycle of your best clients. Did they speak with a salesperson prior to making a purchase? Did they download a free white paper? Did they take advantage of a free trial, and interact with your sales team? Once you’ve outlined the path of your most valued clients, duplicate that path in the form of CTA’s for your email subscribers.

Action Plan

Give them the right step in the conversion path, something more than “visit our website”. Give them the ability to set up an appointment with your team right in the email. Check out or TimeTrade.

Unsure of the right CTA? Research your testimonials. Which part of your service or product is often the subject of your client’s delight? Work that item into a juicy “subscribers only” offer that involves something for free, at a discount, or give them access to an exclusive beta launch.

After reading through these three main problems and their corresponding action plans, do you see a common theme?

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photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

Data is your friend, and you don’t have to be a data thief or ninja to get it. There is a lot of talk about “big data” and “data analysis tools” in the content marketing space right now. Don’t get distracted by the hype, you probably have access to all of the data within your current toolset. Capture the attention of prospects that have drifted away from interacting with your brand by using the valuable data that is available, and experience true conversion optimization within your email campaign.


9.29 cMarkelle Harden serves as a content manager at Get A Copywriter and creates Resources for businesses that are chipping away at their content goals. Connect with her team on Twitter or LinkedIn.