…the subject line and the first line of the email.

Like peanut butter and jelly, your subject line and first line belong together. And if you pair them well they can work wonders for your open rates.

First, let’s look at a bad subject line + first line

You’ve probably seen what a bad first line looks like. But I’ll show you again as a reminder:

A bad first line

Aside from being a boring “Hey we’re relaunching” email, the first line just kills your interest level. I blurred out the company because I don’t want to point fingers.

Why waste an opportunity to entice people into opening your email. Maybe this company bought a crappy email template, or maybe they use a crappy email tool. Maybe they just don’t know how to send good emails.

I want to make sure that this isn’t what your customers see when they get your emails.

Here are two solid ways to avoid this.

1. Make sure a “View in your browser” link isn’t the first thing in the email.

Rather than putting it up top, add your link to the web content after the first paragraph. If you grab someones attention with the first paragraph, maybe they’ll want to continue reading in their email, or decide to read in your browser and share it. But before they get excited about your content, why would anyone click?

2. Add an “email preview” section.

Many marketing email tools have a little section for your preview text like this:

Add your preview here

The nice thing about having a separate section is that you have more control over exactly what the email preview says. It doesn’t have to be the same as the first line in your email.

The downside is it starts to add visual clutter. I’m guessing it started as a band-aid to avoid having the “View this email in your browser” text showing in an email preview.

So pick one of these, or if you have another creative way to do it, share it in the comments. However you do it, pay as much attention to the first line as you do the subject.

The job of every line in your email is to make people want to read the next line

Compare the example from earlier with this email from Drayton Bird:

Drayton Bird Subject Line

By now you should be able to tell the difference between a compelling email in your inbox and one that will almost certainly get deleted.

So this week, make sure your emails grab people with the first line, rather than “View in your bro…” you just got deleted

Happy Emailing,
Colin

P.S. Regular registration for the Email Bootcamp for Startups is now open. I’ll be doing a live bootcamp alongside Patrick McKenzie and Joanna Wiebe. If you haven’t yet reserved a spot, click to get $103 off the ticket price of $489.