Whether you know it or not, I used the title of this article to demonstrate a point. 

It’s a technique that email spammers often use to illicit a response. In short, it’s all about writing a subject line that will capture your interest and spur you along to the next step. In this case, it’s reading an article. Before going any further, please know that this piece is not about cataloging the nefarious activities of shadowy computer hackers. Instead, I wanted to extract some of the brilliance displayed by those who are determined to grab your attention from within your inbox.

I, of course, do not subscribe to the idea of spamming your customers. I do, however, strongly believe in drafting impactful emails that will further the cause of your small business.

Despite what you’ve felt or heard, know that email marketing is still king; it doesn't matter if you are sending a large email blast, attempting to track down an individual sales lead or offering customer support.

Don’t think for a minute that the emergence of social media and new digital platforms have rendered email marketing a dinosaur. On the contrary, it is likely more valuable than ever. Think about this for a moment; when you sign up for Twitter, Facebook or Google+, what is the key piece of information all of these outlets demand? You guessed it – your email address. Why? Your email address represents the cross roads of everything you do online – social media, reservation confirmations, work related communications and so on.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that email communications is not some antiquated exercise relegated to the 8-track-tape wing of the museum.

Now let’s get to the secrets the pros use:

Subject Line
The subject line of an email is a gatekeeper.  It will either let you in or banish you to outer darkness.  If that is the case, why expend all of your energy on the body of your email – complete with graphics and links, rather than the very thing that will determine your success? Before sending out emails for my clients, we draft many different subject lines and then choose the one that is most potent. This may be an exercise that you too should adopt

Curiosity
One of the best ways to get your email read is to tap into the reader’s curiosity. Imagine that you are a personal trainer and one of your newsletters carried this subject line, How Stars Bounce Back So Fast After Pregnancy.  The object of this model is to trigger a burning question (in the subject line) that can be resolved by simply reading the body of your message.

Utility
Another key way to grab attention via email is to highlight key information in the subject line - let the reader know exactly what to expect from the very beginning.  This technique eliminates creative-fluff and jumps right to the presentation information that the reader can use right away. Let’s say you’re a financial planner and wish to send out a newsletter about commodities; your email subject line could read, 3 Commodities That Are Better Than Gold.

Walter Dailey is the creative director for DSV Media, a Columbus Advertising Agency specializing in marketing help for small and mid-sized businesses.  Follow him here: @wrdailey @dsvcreative