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How to Write Subject Lines that Prospects will Click On

This article first appeared in Advisor Perspectives on October 27th, 2020, and can be found here

Eight out of 10 people will read the subject line of an email, while only two of them will go on to read the rest. When it comes to reading things online, we have a selective attention span; this is why it’s so important to optimize headlines in both blog posts and your email marketing.

Your subject line, which is typically the same as the headline/title of the article, is the first impression of your content. It can make-or-break whether a potential client will keep reading an article or open an email from you. Creating subject lines that compel investors isn’t an exact science, but there are specific steps you can take that will greatly increase the magnetism of your content.

1. Be methodical

If you don’t know where to start, content-marketing research has paved the way for some statistic-backed guidelines for writing headlines and titles.

Stick with 6 -13 words

The golden length for a subject line is between six and 13 words. Does this mean you can never go under six words or over 13? No, but as a general rule, keep things in this zone; it’s designed to permit a title long enough that you can build interest, but not too long that it drags on.

Use numbers

Investors like numbers. Numbers mean organization, and our brains are drawn to organization. Even more interestingly, people actually prefer odd numbers to even numbers. Of course, if you choose to hit four main points instead of five, it isn’t the end of the world – just something to consider as you’re planning your content.

Life Strategy Financial Blog Post Title

Consider this blog post from Life Strategy Financial. The title’s only nine words and it uses numbers (an odd number, too!)

2. Use specific keywords

There are two types of keywords that will improve your titles: those that are compelling by themselves to all sorts of audiences, and identifier keywords that are very niche-specific.

The first kind is quick, simple and actionable. They’re words like “fast,” “immediately,” “need,” “easy” or even “how to.” These words tell people that you’re providing information they can immediately take and apply to real life.

WealthKeel LLC Blog Post Title

The second kind is more complex. These are identifier keywords; they appeal to your specific niche. You can do this by specifying location in your titles or directly addressing your target audience. For instance, there’s a huge difference between “5 Ways to Optimize Your Investments” and “5 Ways for Healthcare Workers to Optimize Their Investments.

Forward Thinking Wealth Management Popup example

In this call-to-action to subscribe to a newsletter from Forward Thinking Wealth Management, the headline specifically addresses the target audience with an identifier keyword: sales professionals. If your firm serves a specific region, add that to your titles. For instance, “Sales Professionals in the Midwest.”

3. Use your audience’s language

Along the same lines as utilizing identifier keywords, use your audience’s language.

This means that you’re getting in their heads, thinking about the questions they have and wording your headlines in a way that shows you’re offering answers to those questions. This is especially important in email marketing where often you’re curating drip campaigns for prospects. This may not seem like a significant strategy, but it’s a consideration that will drastically alter your headlines and boost your content’s effectiveness – with the right people.

Think about this: You’re creating a drip campaign to share content about stock market volatility. You’re going to title your subject lines differently if your target audience is working families that invest as opposed to high-net-worth investors. Both demographics are worried about stock market volatility, but the “why” is very different for each audience. Lean into that when creating your headlines.

Boyd Wealth Management blog title

Consider this article by Boyd Wealth Management, a firm serving high-net-worth clients. The wording of the title is subtle, yet still appeals more to the firm’s specific client base. The investors who have to consider complicated investing biases are most likely those with a lot of stake and involvement in the stock market, such as HNW clients.

4. Ask a question

This one’s easy: Just ask a question. Ask a question your target audience has or ask one directly to your readers, and then imply that you’re about to tackle this question. Titles posed as questions are great for increasing traffic and opens.

How to get clicks with the right title

This technique is simple yet effective. Again, be sure that you’re using the language of your specific audience.

5. Be unique

Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your headlines. You don’t want to sound like a robot; more often than not, people will be intrigued by a headline that simply shows personality. You don’t have to go overboard in every piece of content but give people a little glimpse into the personality of your firm.

Great titles for clicks

This example from Windle Wealth is fun, sarcastic and it makes people want to click.

There’s nothing worse than putting time and effort into content and having it fall flat. For this reason, always make sure you’re being mindful of your headlines. Investors are itching to read content that applies to them. You just have to ensure you’re presenting it in the best way possible.