Unlocking the Power of Email Subject Lines: Insights from Sales Training Coach Ryan Dohrn

Unlocking the Power of Email Subject Lines: Insights from  Sales Training Coach Ryan Dohrn

Hey there, friends and fans. This week, let’s dive into the psychology of subject lines. You’re probably intrigued by this topic, and rightly so. It’s become one of the most popular videos I’ve ever produced. I am seeing open rates of 35 to 40% and reply rates of 25 to 30% as I use a new strategy when deploying subject lines. Those numbers are simply outstanding from your perspective after 30 years in the sales business.

As a general rule, you’ve heard me talk about Uncle Ryan’s Rule of Three and Three. In general, you should aim to have three words in your subject line. Admittedly, some might run just a tad longer than that, but let’s discuss why you’re achieving such phenomenal results.

A great subject line shouldn’t give the reader enough information to delete the email without opening it. Let’s reiterate that point. Your goal with your subject line is to avoid deletion. The objective is for your subject line to drive the reader to open the email. So, let’s break this down further.

A subject line like “Holiday Gift Guide Coming Up – Are You In?” is problematic. Firstly, it’s too long. Secondly, it’s asking a question that someone could easily answer with a “no,” prompting them to delete the email without opening it. So, how do you compel someone to open an email?

A great subject line causes someone’s brain to ask, “What?” It should leave them wanting more information. To be clear, I’m not advocating for deceptive subject lines like “Free Lunch” or “About Those Pictures.” Instead, I’m talking about subject lines that prompt curiosity, such as “Considered This?” or “Your Thoughts on This?” These subject lines force someone’s brain to ask, “Consider what?” or “Thoughts on what?”—making it necessary for them to open the email.

One of my favorite subject lines, which I’ve been teaching for seven years, is simply a date. For example, if you wanted to schedule a meeting for New Year’s Day, your subject line would be “January 1st?” This forces the recipient’s brain to ask, “What?” It’s a subtle but effective way to prompt them to open the email.

Now, you might be thinking, “But Ryan, won’t this approach come across as too salesy?” Well, of course it might sound salesy to you because you’re in sales. But remember, the vast majority of people have never received formal sales training. Additionally, avoid using the same subject line repeatedly with the same person. Keep things fresh with new subject lines and relevant content.

Here are some sample subject lines that work well.
Consider this?
Your advice?
Next steps?
New idea for you
Your thoughts?
What about this?
Did you know?
What about next week?
I need some advice, please.
What happened?

In conclusion, understanding the psychology of email subject lines is key. They should prompt someone’s brain to ask, “What now?” or “What’s that?”—ultimately leading them to open the email. While it might sound like a sales tactic, it’s a strategy that can yield significant results.

Remember, if you’re aiming to work smarter and not harder, you’ll need to be both smart and hardworking. Following these tips on subject lines can save you time and help you work smarter, but don’t forget the importance of putting in the effort too. Please never forget if Sales was an easy job. Everyone will be doing it. And they’re not. Were the chosen few that I found a great career Little Feat, our families for a lifetime in the media business.

Ryan Dohrn is a 30 year sales professional that coaches sales teams in 15 different industries with the primary focus on the media business. You can learn more online about him at RyanDohrn.com.