blind vs direct email subject lines

When you’re writing marketing emails to send to your leads or email subscribers, there’s something you definitely don’t want to do: you don’t want to treat your subject line like an afterthought.

A subject line may seem just like the shipping label you slap onto a package. But unlike a package label, an email subject line isn’t just for logistics. It’s what your recipients will use to decide whether they should even bother to open your email. So if you want good email open rates, it pays to spend time on your email subject lines.

Although there are many different types of email subject lines you can write, they all fall into two key categories: blind email subject lines (vague teasers) and direct email subject lines (concrete, unambiguous descriptors).

Which one should you use to get the best results? Keep reading below for my tips on using blind vs. direct email subject lines.

Need help crafting email subject lines that will make subscribers actually open your emails?
Download my 63 free email subject line templates.

Blind email subject lines

Blind email subject lines are intentionally vague subject lines that are meant to pique your recipients’ curiosity. For example, “You’ll never guess what happened to me yesterday” is a blind email subject line. It doesn’t indicate what happened to me or what my email is actually about. Instead, it holds back on giving you the details. Why? So that you just can’t resist opening the email and finding out what it’s all about.

 

blind vs. direct email subject line

 

Think blind email subject lines are more interesting and more likely to grab someone’s attention? You’re not alone. In fact, blind email subject lines almost always produce higher open rates because they’re just that good at arousing curiosity.

But before you pause all of your active email campaigns and change your subject lines to blind ones, there’s something you should know. Blind email subject lines have a downside: they tend to produce lower click-through and conversion rates.

Why?

Because they don’t prequalify the people who open your emails. What does this mean? Imagine that you’ve written an email about how to improve calls to action on your landing pages. And let’s say that you use the following as your subject line: “The #1 mistake you’re making online.”

Because your subject line doesn’t reveal what the actual topic of your email is, people won’t use the topic of your email to decide whether or not to open it. Instead, they’ll base their decision on how curious they are about knowing what this big mistake is.

What happens when people open emails without knowing what they’re actually about? Many of them will realize that the email and the offer, resource, or information described in it isn’t relevant to them. As a result, many of them won’t click through to your landing page, blog post, or website. And they won’t sign up for or buy your offer either.

Of course, a blind subject line can also grab the attention of someone who would be interested in your offer but wouldn’t have opened your email otherwise. But to reap this benefit, you’ll have to settle for lower click-through and conversion rates.

It’s also important to keep in mind that even the most creative and abstract blind subject lines should still be related to the content of your email. Otherwise, your recipients may feel like you intentionally used a misleading headline to manipulate them into opening your email. (And you definitely don’t want that.)

Related: The 7 most effective email subject lines + 63 free templates

 

 

Need help crafting email subject lines that will make subscribers actually open your emails?
Download my 63 free email subject line templates.

 

Direct email subject lines

Direct email subject lines, on the other hand, identify the topic of an email pretty concretely and unambiguously. For example, “Why I use Pinterest to promote my business” is a direct email subject line. It provides specific information about what my email is about: using Pinterest for business.

 

blind vs. direct email subject line

 

Direct email subject lines usually don’t seem as sexy and interesting as blind email subject lines do. And as a result, they tend to have lower open rates. But this is where the negatives end.

Related: 12 email subject line tips to boost your open rate + free spam trigger word list

Compared to blind subject lines, direct email subject lines tend to produce higher click-through and conversion rates.

Why?

Because they prequalify the people who open your emails. If my recipients receive an email with the subject line “Why I use Pinterest to promote my business,” they know right away that the email is about the benefits of using Pinterest to market a business. And because they know this, they’ll decide whether to open the email based on how relevant the topic is to them. If they’re interested in learning how to use Pinterest to promote their business, they’ll probably open it. And if they aren’t interested, then they’ll delete it from their inbox.

When it’s clear what your email is actually about, fewer people will open it. But the people who do open it will probably do so because they thought the topic was relevant to them. And as a result, they’ll be more likely to click through to your landing page or blog. And you know what that means – more opt ins and sales!

Related: 10 expert tips for writing marketing emails that convert + 63 email subject line templates

Which type of email subject line should you use?

Both blind and direct email subject lines have their advantages and disadvantages. So which type of subject line should you use in your own emails?

Both of them!

Every email campaign and audience is different. So try both types of email subject lines over time (or A/B test) and keep an eye on your metrics. In particular, watch your open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. For some campaigns and audiences, a blind email subject line may produce such a high open rate that it doesn’t matter that most people don’t click through and convert. In other cases, using a direct email subject line may be the best way to make sure the people who actually would be interested in your offer open your email.

 

blind vs. direct email subject line

 

In addition to looking at your open, click-through, and conversion rates, monitor your unsubscribe and complaint counts. If these numbers tend to rise after you send emails with blind subject lines, it may be a sign that your subscribers aren’t into them (and potentially see them as click bait).

 

 

Need help crafting email subject lines that will make subscribers actually open your emails?
Download my 63 free email subject line templates.

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Blind vs. direct email subject lines: Which type should you use? + 63 free email subject line templates
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