How many emails do you get in your inbox daily? Hundreds. The amount of emails received daily can be staggering. In fact, that’s why some marketers have chosen to revert back to hard mailers where there’s less competition for eyeballs (when done right). While it may seem antiquated, it makes a more important point, which is: messaging is everything!

To illustrate this point, I wanted to share with you the top subject line types and examples of how you can use them to break through the noise.

  1. Brash/Controversial

    Don’t be a moron…read this email. Brands that are controversial get noticed. Paper Chase Press does a great job of doing this in their e-blasts, really making you take notice. A few recent examples of theirs include:

    Get a Job

    We’re Not Kinkos

    Pop Off



    Pardon Our French

    Straightforward direct subject lines that lean towards the negative have increased their open rates significantly, especially when compared to industry standards.

  2. Personal Appeal

    Subject: To My Jumpsuit Sister

    This was the subject line I used to get the attention of one of LA’s premier CEOs. I met her at a global conference for women where she had dozens of women flock to her after her panel. We both happened to be wearing jumpsuits at the time and sure enough, using that personal touch point as a subject line created immediate rapport. We had coffee the following month and she ended up as an event sponsor.

    Remember, even the most famous people are still human and enjoy connecting with other likeminded people, so making your subject line incredibly personal and unique is a surefire way to get noticed.

  3. Clever/Witty

    Is this thing on? That’s a subject line my assistant often uses when she isn’t getting a response back to an email. Again it humanizes what could be an awkward situation and always gets more of a response. An even better example is the story behind how I got this very column.

    A year ago I had the pleasure of attending Inc Magazine’s Vision 2020 Conference in San Francisco. As I was schmoozing around during the break, I connected with a lovely gentleman and we just hit it off. I found out later that he happened to be the editor of Inc. Proof in the pudding #1, messaging whether in print or verbal is everything, and allowed me to connect with someone who would later be pivotal in giving me this very column.

    While we were talking, he mentioned that in his previous life, he had been an actor in New York specializing in accents, Cockney to be specific. We continued to hang throughout the day and evening and I mentioned in passing that I was interested in becoming a columnist, a sentiment I’m sure all five hundred people he came into contact with that day also expressed.

    After the conference, I returned to my office intent on locking down a coveted column. That’s the first step, follow up! It seems so simple but almost 48% of “leads” are never followed up on. So hurdle number 1 accomplished.

    Next, I had to make sure I was differentiated in my message. So what was the difference between me and the other dozens of requests the editor received post conference? My subject line which read, “Your Cockney’s Bigger Than Mine.”

Using an authentic moment of connection, I showcased my creativity and simultaneously broke through the noise, aka the barrage of emails he inevitably received requesting to write for this prolific publication.

Proof in the pudding #2, you’re reading this column.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of