Have you ever felt like writing a good subject line is some kind of dark art you haven’t mastered? Maybe if you went out under a full moon and mixed hair of Gmail with a sliver of spam-bane and chanted “Outlookus, Outlookus, Outlookus,” you might come up with something decent?
I’m going to be a total pain in the butt and tell you there are no easy and simple answers when it comes to subject lines. You need to be looking at what people are responding to and making educated guesses. Trial and error.
If you’re after some general guidelines, check out Mailchimp’s subject line best practice guide. If you want actual feedback on a specific subject line, or to get some number-based feedback, read on!
Free online tool – Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer
Free tools that do a decent job at headline analysis are rare. But Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer is quite good. It’s aimed at blog post titles and article headlines, but works well as a subject line analyser too.
Simply plug in your headline idea and Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer will give you a score like “74”. And they’ll also tell you what you’re rocking and where you can improve.
There are a number of things it scores you on – including your mix of words (Common, Uncommon, Emotional or Power words), the length (character and word length), and other points too such as whether it’s a positive or negative sentiment.
They even give you your history for as long as you’ve got that tab open so you can see all the subject lines you’ve tried and their scores! Pretty nifty for revision.
While it can’t give you a total definitive answer about whether you’re headline is crap, you at least have some immediate feedback on it and suggestions on things that might improve it.
Downsides? The dictionary that Coschedule’s analyser has available is limited. There are tonnes of words it doesn’t categorise. So, you may have words that are uncommon or emotional, but because they’re not on Coschedule’s list, it doesn’t take them into consideration.
Subject lines need to be accurate
While I know you’re a smart cookie, it’s easy to get lost in the Coschedule tool looking for the “perfect subject line”. But a higher score may not be in the best interests of your subject line. For example, you might end up very far away from what’s actually in your email.
Your subject line should accurately reflect the contents of your email. If you write something click-baity that is misleading, well, expect that some of your subscribers may be less than impressed. You may even get spam complaints.
Accurate subject lines are better than click baity ones. Or ones that are obscure. Unless you are totally sure that your audience will totally get that reference to that Star Trek episode.
It all comes down to you
Some subject lines will do better than others. The subscribers on your list may not like the same thing the Coschedule Headline Anazlyser does.
You’re the human in the driver’s seat. A free online tool probably can’t tell you if a headline is stella copy. It just looks at a bunch of things about your headline and does it’s best to cobble together an idea, based on an algorithm. You’re the creative pilot and you should relish it.
Oh, and don’t do the ritual at the top of this post. Trust me, it’ll get messy and it’s far worse than a crap subject line.