Email: How to Write Riveting Opening Lines

By Patricia Saya

One day while watching television, an insurance salesman had a life-altering idea.

The man’s name was Ray Scott. And his idea was to start a competition for bass fishing modeled after the PGA tour.

Scott’s first tournament attracted 106 anglers. Each of them paid $100 to compete over three days for $5,000.

Over the years, he successfully organized a series of tournaments that aired on TNN and ESPN.

He formed what’s now known as the Superbowl of bass fishing: the Bassmaster Classic.

And ultimately, he transformed bass fishing into a multi-billion dollar sport.

During his career, Scott served as the M.C. for tournament weigh-ins, entering arenas for the Bassmaster Classic in unforgettable ways.

Such as riding atop an elephant. Or flying through the air on a wire.

Once, with the aid of pyrotechnics, he burst out of a giant egg while appearing to float on a lake of flames.

Ray Scott understood the power of memorable entrances. He loved trying new things. A gracious host, he crafted riveting introductions.

Likewise, your emails need riveting introductions. And of course, you have to experiment with different versions. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to craft striking opening lines.

Shall I show you how?

Ramp up curiosity with a single word

I have an odd confession to make.

This curious opening line was written by Jon Morrow. He’s the founder of Smartblogger, one of the most well-known blogs on the web.

Morrow is a master at writing blog posts that go viral. In this introduction, he demonstrates how one word can get your email read.

First of all, you wonder what on earth he’s going to confess. But it’s the word odd that’s striking.

It has a number of meanings. Does he mean rare? Funny? Freakish?

In the email, Morrow goes on to explain that for a long time, he suffered from imposter syndrome.

Surprisingly, despite his great success, he didn’t really believe he was a good writer.

A link in the email takes you to a post where he describes in detail his battle with self-confidence, consumed with guilt for “stealing” the work of other writers.

Of course, he wasn’t. He was merely using tried-and-true writing formulas.

In the post, Morrow talks about how his struggle led him to discovering his life’s mission – helping other writers succeed.

Tip: Think carefully about the idea you're trying to convey before you write. Lure your reader with words that stir up curiosity, such as "unconventional" or "controversial."

Win trust fast

This strategy is so effective, Quora used it to become one of the top 100 websites in the world when it comes to traffic.

Quora is a question and answer platform. Ask any question about any topic, and knowledgeable people will answer you.

In this email opening line, top web influencer Neil Patel uses a statistic to make a big promise – becoming a well-known website.

Opening lines containing data get attention.

Data keeps you informed of the latest trends, technologies and tactics in your niche. It provides insights into how other companies are helping their customers.

And it wins trust.

Patel’s statistic is compelling. Quora is highly ranked by Google, and anyone can use it. What website owner doesn’t want more traffic?

The link in the email brings you to a video. And you’re given five ways to use information you find on Quora to get traffic.

You ccan obtain factual information from:

  • Studies
  • Surveys
  • Experiments
  • Testing
  • Industry publications

Keep in mind that data doesn’t need to be a number. Use a web page, images, or a story.

Tip: Think beyond other people's data. Have you yourself tested something? Sharing your findings will create an intimate bond with your reader.

Put your reader right in the action

Late on a Tuesday afternoon in April, they booted me out of their investor's club because they realized I was onto their dishonest schemes.

This opening line was written by digital marketing expert Pamela Wilson. It appears in her book, Master Content Marketing.

As she illustrates, you should place your reader right in the middle of the rising action.

Choose a critical scene to describe. Pivotal moments transmit high energy.

Aren’t you intrigued by the character she is describing? Don’t you have questions you’d like answered?

You may well commiserate with the character, too. That’s because when you read stories, your brain release oxytocin, a molecule that causes you to feel empathy.

Empathy incites action, such as purchasing a product or service.

Don’t think you’re a storyteller? You can start by thinking of incidents that impacted your life.

Explain why you do what you do. Tell your business founding story. Describe what problems you had and how you solved them.

Tip: If you want to make your job easier, let your customers tell your story. They're your most persuasive salespeople.

Ready to write enticing emails?

Now you know the importance of honing your idea before you choose your words.

You know how to build trust with facts.

And you know how to instantly hook your reader with a story.

So use these tips, and start writing email opening lines that drive more clicks.

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