By Joyce Sunila

How do you come up with intriguing content for your e-newsletters? How you do decide which subject lines will garner the highest open rates?

Take a look at the magazine racks if you need some inspiration from the pros.

You Are the Test Subject

Look at the magazine rack for of 30 seconds, then turn around and jot down everything you can remember. Which covers caught your eye and why? What works for you?

After you’ve recorded what you can remember, turn around and pick up the magazines that caught your attention. Examine the story titles. Notice what they have in common. They’ll probably sound like this:

  • 8 Fabulous Entertaining Ideas
  • Tips from the Makeup Pros
  • Take Our ‘Most Excellent Date’ Test
  • Your Coolness Quotient  – We Break It Down
  • 5 Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting
  • Trophy Wives – They’re Not Who You Think


Story titles in popular magazines offer excellent guidelines for writing your e-newsletter subject lines. They’re based on proven-to-work principles for engaging readers.

You can also work backwards to develop your content. For example:

  • Numbers work, especially odd numberss.
  • Counterintuitive ideas (e.g. trophy wives not conforming to a stereotype) stir curiosity.
  • Test and surveys about common social problems tempt analytical people.
  •  Inside-track promises (e.g. hints from “pros”) lure DIYers.
  •  “Secrets” always make people curious.
  • Of all the lists, “Best” and “Favorites” lists have the most allure.

Once you know the principles of popular writing, creating content and subject lines is easy.(Hint: Forget exclamation points! They’re OK on magazine covers, but they’ll trigger Spam filters on the Internet.)

Joyce Sunila is the president of Practice Helpers, providing e-newsletters, blogs and social media services to aesthetic practices. You can contact Joyce at [email protected] or visit the Practice Helpers website at