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A Hypnotic Way to Get Fans to Open Your Emails

If you know anything about marketing, you already understand that having a growing email list of fans can be your most powerful promotional asset. But, like any good tool, you have to know how to use it.

One of the great challenges with email is getting people to open and read your messages. It’s not the end of the world if your fans see your emails pop up in their inboxes but don’t have the time to open them. At least they see your name and are reminded of who you are.

But your real goal is to motivate fans to open your emails and further interact with you. So how do you do that?

One great technique to accomplish this was revealed when I interviewed Joe Vitale. He’s the author of more than 50 books on hypnotic marketing, the law of attraction, and more. You may have seen him in the movie The Secret, on “Larry King Live” or “The Donny Deutsch Show.”

The interview was wide-ranging, but here’s one nugget of marketing advice that Joe offered related to emails:

Putting a question in the subject line of your email can be a great way to create a “hypnotic” message that compels people to open and read it.

But not any question will do!

The key, Joe says, is to ask a question that can’t be answered unless you dig deeper to find out more. For instance, here are two examples of weak email subject lines:

Would you like to buy my new album?

What’s your favorite love song?

The problem with these questions is that the recipient can answer them and resolve the issue without any further action on their part. It offers no compelling reason to open the email.

However, here is an example of a more powerful, “hypnotic” email subject line question:

Which one of these three beautiful women inspired my latest love song?

A question like that creates a mental state of dissonance. It’s an incomplete thought. And for many people, unresolved ideas compel them to take action to uncover the answer and complete the thought before they move on.

Here’s another example:

Have you ever made THIS big mistake on the dance floor?

See the beauty in a question like this?

It’s similar to when you can’t think of a person’s name that you should know. It often drives you crazy and you can’t concentrate on anything else until you resolve the issue by remembering the name.

Curiosity-inducing questions offer a great way to create a hypnotic message that demands attention. Another related method is to make a provocative statement that doesn’t include all the details, such as: 

Don’t let your parents watch this new music video

You could also use the word kids, boss or lover in place of parents and get the same effect, depending on your audience and subject matter.

The point is that the statement creates curiosity and an incomplete idea that begs for a resolution. So start thinking about how you can use hypnotic questions to increase your email open rate. 

Important: If you’re going to use tactics like this to inspire action, you should put a priority on delivering an interesting message inside the email. If you mislead people or simply don’t offer a story that’s funny or compelling in some way … they may not trust you the next time you use a strategy like this.

Also, you wouldn’t want to use questions and statements like these with every email you send. Just sprinkle them in here and there when you have really important info to get out. 

What do you think of this email subject line approach? What have you done to get fans to open more of your emails?


P.S. You can hear part of my interview with Joe Vitale on my Artist Empowerment Radio podcast here.

Bob Baker is the author of three books in the “Guerrilla Music Marketing” series, along with many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros. You’ll find Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips, and articles at and


Reader Comments (2)

I agree that you need to put some thought into your subject lines,whether you are sending email to your fans, a press contact, band mate, etc. I tend to favor concise and informational subject lines, e.g., "See my band play this Saturday at Rock Club." The recipient gets the info they need, even if they don't have time to open the email. If you want to make it fun, you could add the question at the end: "See us this Sat. at Rock Club. Want a free poster with your ticket?"

Asking a question could definitely work, as long as it's done sparingly and, as Bob mentions, you provide quality email content so your readers don't feel spammed. The internet is chock full of messages like "Find out the ONE secret doctors don't want you to know!" or the common twitter messages that get sent when someone's account has been hacked, "I can't believe they caught you doing this crazy thing on camera." I've actually been subconsciously trained to ignore/delete these types of messages.

I'm no marketing expert, but I always do the would-I-open-this sniff test when I'm writing subject lines. And if you feel like you're too biased to make the call, ask a good (honest) friend if your subject line is too boring, spammy, desperate etc.

October 15 | Unregistered CommenterSteph Barrak

Thank you for sharing the insights gained from Joe Vitale. It's such a simple thing to do, but it makes so much sense. Happy email marketing!

October 26 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Wiebe

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