Clayton Makepeace’s 14 Crucial Elements of Outstanding Subject Lines

Do people leap at the idea of diving into your emails?

Do people leap at the idea of diving into your emails?

Hey you,

It’s #2.

Today I thought I’d do something special for you.

I’m dead in the middle of finishing the notes for Clayton Makepeace’s Online Profit Multiplier program.  While taking notes I came across the whole module he did on the email marketing part of OPM.  Maybe you don’t remember the promotion that he did in October of 2008 for this rare program that’s not even available for sale on his website.

Here’s a few paragraphs where he’s describing it that I pulled out of the sales letter for you…

* At a time like this, tools that give you maximum online response rates and sales are worth their weight in gold.

* My Online Profit Multiplier (OPM) just caused a staggering 33% of the people on our Total Package subscription list to register and watch our webcast introducing OPM — and it can do the same for your company or your clients’ companies.

* Every month, this kind of event, attracts up to 40,000 prospective customers for my client. And combined with my proprietary follow-up strategy tactics and copywriting techniques, generates sales of up to $5 million … and pays me royalties of up to $500,000 sometimes more. And I want to show you how these powerful tools can do the same for you.


During the module on email marketing he makes a bold claim.  He says that “80% of OPM is email.”

Here’s what Clayton calls the “14 Common Elements of Outstanding Subject Lines”

directly from my notes…

1. The shorter, the Better

35-50 characters

Supposedly shorter subject lines get 2-3x as many clicks as longer

2. Report the news

Stuff on news connects with what’s on prospects minds today.

Strive to connect the news event to your event.

Clayton’s found that of all things here on this list, that news sells best.

3. Drop a name

Obama, Madonna, Osama, whoever’s hot now.

Make sure your audience cares about or knows of them and even then don’t error on everyone knowing.  Give them a brief background like Jay Leno used to do with all the jokes on his monologue.  He said this was what made his job harder.  Johnny Carson never had to explain his jokes because we didn’t have our attention/information as fragmented as we do now with the internet and 9,000 cable/satellite channels.

Clayton recommends subscribing to because they do such a brilliant job of this, especially in the political world subject lines.

4. Surprise them

Challenge a myth

Challenge an authority.  Maybe you can tell them that something their lawyer, accountant, their tax preparer told them is WRONG!

5. Deliver Info

Promise of benefit for reading… they’re gonna be able to break dance better than ever, grow pubic hair on their cue ball head, cut their taxes by 19.4%.

6. Include irony or absurdity

One-legged golfer who shows you how to hit the ball farther than anyone you know, woman shows men how to improve their driving :~P, Guy talks to dogs and gets his own TV show and humongous fees to train canines how to behave.

Use whatever you’ve got.  Sometimes you’re sitting on a story that’s pure gold and you don’t even know it until you start looking for counter intuitive examples of why you or your clients succeed.

7. Try an apparent contradiction

Oxymoron’s, you know “Military intelligence” and stuff like that.

8. Pique their curiosity

One of most addictive banner ads ever to run online are those stupid IQ tests, “Are you smart enough to be president?”  You wanna know why I know they’re addictive.  Because they keep showing and showing and showing.  If they didn’t make money they would’ve bleed the guys running them dry long ago.

Anything you can do to involve your prospects is gonna be great.

9. Include urgency

Deadlines/countdowns are fabulous movers for your subject lines.  Especially if you’re speaking to your ideal prospects most desired outcomes.

10. Use a must-read element

A perfect example of this is what the FTC is looking to do to alter the way marketers can use testimonials/endorsements.  Just in case you haven’t heard about this go to… and you’ll see what John Carlton, the world famous copywriter had to say about this and you’ll see he’s linked the FTC’s document there also.

If you’re a marketer who relies heavily on testes, you’ll be prying open a email with a subject line about this in a flash.

11. Include empathy

This is the whole idea of “I was where you are until I found out about this…”

12. Togetherness

Prime example of this embodied is Gary Bencivenga’s use of this in his famous headline and deck copy that read… “Lies, Lies, Lies” Why we investors are fed up with everyone lying to us and stealing our money.”

That sentence implies in this battle with you.  I’m on your side.  We’re on the same team.

Look for ways to be a friend instead of a salesman.

13. Mix it up

You always want to keep people guessing.  I’ve learned this having to write titles for posts.  Some work better than others but if I keep going back to the same formula, I’ll burn it out.

Look to try to create a saga that unfolds daily in your prospects inbox.

Mix it up and be inventive because repetition will kill you here.

14. Add a local element

Identify where your prospects are in the country, by getting their zip codes from when they’ve ordered stuff from you and then if possible add a local element to your emails.

I think did this with me.  They’re always pitching Arizona College Girls photo shoots to me.  Too bad their ads suck.  Some of the teaser tastefully taken pics they send are pretty mind boggling. did this lately talking about…

“The only safe banks in Phoenix”

David Ogilvy, the direct marketing legend did this, Gary Halbert, another direct marketing legend did also.  Put it to work for you.


So there you have it.

And what’s crazy is that as vital and powerful as all 14 of these elements are, they don’t mean shit if you don’t get one other critical piece of the puzzle right.  I’ll give you a clue of where to find this.  It’s on the same page of your guide right before I dive into this list.

So go to your email inbox and find the email with the subject line that reads “Note Taking Nerd #2 was dead wrong” and go to the link to pre-order your copy of this this guide or email if you deleted it by accident and just type the chief a short note that says you’d like to have one of these amazing guides for yourself.

Talk to you again soon,

Note Taking Nerd #2