This morning, I used a nifty new iOS feature that allows me to delete messages from the lock screen, without actually looking at the entire message. Historically, it’s been easy to delete messages without fully reading them in any email client, as you normally just see the subject line and a preview of the email body, but this takes convenience to a whole new level. Previously, at least someone would need to go to their email client to see the message (and hopefully have a chance to see more of it before deciding to act on it or delete it). It also makes it super convenient for people to delete your dunning emails. Subject lines have always been very important, but now, they are even more important, because if your subject line isn’t good enough,  your well-written, hand crafted email will be insta-deleted.

It got me thinking about a talk that I heard at MicroConf this year, by Joanna Wiebe (@copyhackers), where she mentioned that every line in your email has a job. The subject line has the most important job: getting your customer to open your dunning email. Getting them to open your dunning emails can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in revenue, so it’s of paramount importance. A well crafted subject line can be the deciding factor between you receiving all of that future revenue and your email getting instantly deleted. You just need to make sure that your email pays off your subject line. If you put something crazy in your subject line, but you don’t address that crazy thing in your email, you’re like the boy who cried wolf. You’ll lose trust, and people will stop opening your emails.

We’ve been testing our Dunning email subject lines recently, and here are the ones that have been working better for us than any that we’ve used before:

First Dunning Email: “Your dunning emails will stop sending soon…”

This subject line works because people immediately want to know why their painstakingly crafted emails will stop sending. It tells that that something unexpected will happen, but doesn’t say why. Curious, they’ll open up the email, and then you can tell them that their charge failed and what they can do about it.

Second Dunning Email: “Second Notice: Please update your billing information.”

This subject line is more straightforward, and it lets them know that we’ve emailed them about this before, which makes them want to open the email if they didn’t notice the first one. It also states what they need to do once they open the email.

Third Dunning Email: “Your Stunning account will be cancelled in 2 days.”

This one makes them want to open the email to find out why their account will be cancelled, and to prevent it from happening.

Make your subject lines better at their job, and you’ll keep more customers/make more money.

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