Creating Controversy in Email Marketing

For an investment firm’s email marketing campaign, which  of these subject lines do you think would be the most successful?    “You’ll never be as rich as Warren Buffet unless…”  or “You could be the next Warren Buffet.”

I’ll state at the beginning…I don’t know.  I haven’t done an email campaign for an investment newsletter…like The Motley Fool…but I’m hoping someone…or some organization… will pick up these two subject lines and use them.  NO CHARGE.  Right here, right now, I’m giving permission to any investment entity that has an email list, to try these subject lines.  I want to know which works better.  I’ll even write the email content…if I  get an investment firm client before someone else grabs the idea.

I am going to say, though, I think I know which subject line is the winner.  What about you?  What was your initial reaction?

I think the hands down winner will be: “You’ll never be as rich as Warren Buffet unless…”  Here’s why:

This subject line creates controversy.  It creates internal conflict. 

The vast majority of people simply do not believe there’s any possibility they could ever be as rich as Warren Buffet.  Fact.  At the subconscious level, there is undoubtedly a great deal of old programming that supports why you’re not rich now…like “Money is the root of all evil, you can’t take it with you (when you die), No matter how hard you hug your money, it never hugs back…” and many many more things you undoubtedly heard about money as you were growing up.  

The point is, there is a lot of negative association with having a lot of money.  Therefore, your belief that you should be poor…or a lot poorer than Warren Buffet…is stronger than your belief that you should be rich…as rich or richer than Warren Buffet.

Now, look around you.  Even if you’re not really poor, are you still middle class… or upper middle class?   Does your present experience support the conscious portion of your belief system that also says “it’s a fact” that you’ll never be as rich as Warren Buffet.

Here is the kicker, though, in this subject line…”..unless…”  That single word, “unless”, followed by the three dots does two things:

  • It taps into the central part of the human experience…hope.   Hope focuses on specific goals.  In this case the word “unless” triggers the emotion of hope, because unless suggests that if you do…something…
  • Aha.  Once you saw the three dots, you wanted to finish that thought, didn’t you?  “unless…”  what’s next, you want to know.  What condition do you have to meet to change that certainty that you won’t be as rich as Mr. Buffet?  The three dots at the end of the phrase tell you there’s more…and you want to know what it is.

Why will this create a higher open rate than “You could be the next Warren Buffet”?

 Well, my theory, and I’m willing to bet the results will bear it out, is that this subject line will trigger all your negative subconscious beliefs that it can’t happen, and won’t happen.  Without the addition of the word “unless” to create hope, followed by the three dots to subconsciously trigger your need to complete the thought, you will be stuck.  Any old subconscious programming you have about the evils of wealth…or your unworthiness to be wealthy…or that whole bucket of “stuff” you’re packing around (with the rest of us), will hold your beliefs in place.  Without seeing the hope, you’re unlikely to open that email.

Controversy in email marketing can, and does, create attention.  If it points to a negative, turn it around…to provide hope.  Point out what is…and what could be.

Unless…someone disproves this theory.  I’ll be waiting…hopefully…for an email, a comment, or a client that wants me to try it out.




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