Create A Subject Line Swipe File

You are probably aware that email marketing is the most powerful form of marketing online today.

Every top marketer uses email to deliver their message for one very good reason.

It is simply the most cost effective marketing method available on the Internet.

I know that you know that email marketing works, and is stronger than ever.

What you might not know is how much impact the subject line of your email has on the effectiveness of your message.

After all, you can go to great effort to write a compelling message, paying careful attention to all the nuances of paragraph length, just the right word here or there, and more.

But if your message is never opened all of that work is wasted!

So let’s look at how you can get more of your email messages opened and read.

The key element here is the subject line

Almost everyone gets too much email or uses filters to reduce the amount they receive.

And almost everyone is busy, with too little time to do what he or she wants to do online.

This has created a generation of scanners. We scan 100 or 200 emails, looking for the ones that are worthy of our time, in about 10 minutes time.

And that’s why YOUR subject line MUST shine if you want to compete and win.

If you think of your email as an ad then the subject line is the headline for that ad

We often hear copywriters say that the right headline can “increase sales up to 800%”.  While that’s probably a bit hyped up, the right headline can have a huge impact on sales.

And so can the right subject line have a huge impact on your email open rate.

Rather that reinvent the wheel, we can create a subject-line-swap-file for use anytime we need it.

Here’s how to do it in a few easy steps.

NOTE: A “swap file” is just a way to say a document that contains bits of copy that you will use later on.  Many writers use swap files for headlines, the closing section of a web page and more.

Of course we should never copy anything some else writes word for word – but DO use subject lines you like for inspiration.

Choose What To Put In Your Swap File

Look for headlines that appeal to you.

If something appeals to you, the chances are it will appeal to others as well.  These are the messages to keep.

Look for email that gets filtered into your “junk” folder.

You must avoid these like the plague!  These emails are the ones not getting opened now.

Don’t let yours become a victim of the filters too.

Separate These Emails Into A Special Folder

No need to clog up you inbox with these messages, so either copy them and put them in a text document or create a special folder just for them.

Creating a special folder is better since you will be able to sort them by sender or subject, which is the next step.

HOT TIP: I suggest my clients use an separate email address just for marketing messages. I suggest they receive personal email at one address and use a different address for joining lists.

This saves your time and makes sorting easier too.

Group Them By Type Of Product Or Sender

The key here is to look first for who sent the message.

If it’s someone you know is successful online pay close attention to the subject line.

I can promise you that they did.

These are often the best subject lines from which to draw your inspiration.

It is often worth joining the list of top online marketers for this reason alone. Reading their emails is like a short course on email marketing!

Next, you want to read each message to see what it’s about.

Then group the messages by the type of product being promoted.

Information products are promoted differently that Network Marketing which is different from real estate.

By grouping the messages you have a mini-swap file by the type of product you are promoting.

Pay Special Attention To Repeating Subject Lines

These are often the messages that have stood the test of time.

I have about five subject lines in my swap file from 2001.  I still see these used today and can assure you that they would not still be sent if they did not work.

Now that you have created your swap file, it’s time to do some marketing.

Pick your top selling product (or the one you want to sell) and find a subject line where the message is for a similar product.

Then rework that subject line until it retains the same meaning but is your own.

Of course, never use a subject line as you find it.  The point here is not to take someone’s work, but use that work as inspiration for your own work.

Now send out a selling message using your new subject line and see how it goes.  If it’s successful, copy it to a permanent file to be used again.  If not, go on to the next or refine it and try again.

By always staying truthful in your subject lines, using proven concepts found in your subject line swap file, and being consistent in your efforts, you will see an increase in the profitability of your email marketing.

And that’s a beautiful thing indeed.  😉

Charlie Page Signature

Charlie Page

Happily married for 45 years, Charlie is the dad to two wonderful daughters. He is the author of 12 books on Internet marketing and creator of over 40 membership sites. You can see all Charlie offers using this link Click Here

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David Reply

Hi Charlie,
Thanks for the inspirations on the swipe file. I have been keeping one for a while, but I like your idea of having one for each type of product. In reference to using a separate email address for personal and marketing email, I make a separate email address for every list and product I sign up for. I have my own email domain and can add anything before the @ sign. This helps me keep track of where an email came from. I also like to put add the product, list name, and/or person in the name field after my name. For Example, David-EzineTrafficFormulaEbook. I just bought your Business Roadmap product and used the same email but put my name as David-BusinessRoadmap. Just helps me keep track of things. In addition, while most marketers are pretty good about not sharing my email address, I am actually surprised at how many of them apparently sell my email address or apparently got hacked–I don’t stay on their list very long and block the email address I gave them to keep my spam to a manageable level. Hope that helps someone. Regards.

Mark M Reply

Hey Charlie, great idea, I didn’t realize I was making swap file until I read the above. Now I’m going to make another with “Subjects” in it.

Ten Ways To Write Headlines That DEMAND Attention! | Reply

[…] you want an easy way to create a powerful “swipe file“ then subscribe to the email follow up systems of top sellers in your market and scan their […]

trevor Reply

The subject line should contain the most important piece of information in the email.

Charles Holmes Reply


This is a fantastic idea. I will start doing this ASAP. I’d never considered starting a swipe file with subject lines before. Thanks for giving me this great idea. All the best.


trevor Reply

When I receive emails from people the subject line must be short and to the point. They musn’t look like spam and if they’ve been sent by other online marketers – they must be interesting and mention a specific benefit. They must also motivate me to read the rest of the text. If your subject line doesn’t seduce me then, I won’t open your message!

Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson Reply

I think that subject lines work differently for different people. For example, when I see “Charlie Page” in the sender column, the subject becomes more interesting automatically. But from another marketer the same subject line might find my finger pressing the Delete key without hesitation.

I think that we also need to remember that just having the same meaning as a successful subject line you’ve seen isn’t always going to work the same since some words seem to work better even though they may mean the same.

Take “free” for example. Compare it to “no cost” or “no fee” or similar phrases. “Free” captures our attention better. It’s also been over hyped and spam filters look for it, but psychologically it is more powerful.

So we should look at the words in the subject lines as well as the subjects as a whole.

    Charlie Page Reply

    Good points. Thank you for the compliment. It means a lot to know you like my email.

    Another idea – the same subject lines will work differently in different markets. You used “free” as an example of one being overused. While that is true in the IM (Internet marketing) and MMO (make money online) markets it’s not true at all in other niches.

    In some niches the idea of a free report and a squeeze page and selling with email is new and so works very well.

    Thank you for your comment.

trevor Reply

A good subject line should contain the most important piece of information in the email. People scan them just like they do
headlines in a newspaper to get a piece of key information with
out reading the article. Your subject line must compel the reader
to open your message because most of us get lots of emails
every day and we won’t want to or can’t read them all.

    Charlie Page Reply

    I agree. Well said! Thank you for your comment.

How to Get Fit Reply

Thanks for a very good method of finding good subject lines for emails. This is something that I have struggled with and that is why I have not used email marketing very much in the past.

What you have said makes perfect sense. It does take a bit of action to put it into practice, but it is certainly very well worthwhile to take that action, as the rewards are proven to be positive, not like so much of the ‘advice’ taught by unscrupulous others.

You have made a great contribution to the internet marketing community and I commend you for this.

Kind regards,


    Charlie Page Reply

    Thanks Barry. The great thing about this idea is that it can be done in about 10 minutes a day. As the old saying goes “inch by inch it’s a cinch!” Like most of good marketing, this requires steady effort and not the heroic all-hands-on-deck urgency trap into which many fall.

trevor Reply

Adding a sense of urgency to your subject line also helps get them opened faster.

    Charlie Page Reply

    I agree – as long as the urgency is real then it is very effective.

Gordon Appleby Reply

I love swipe files! They save time, and they get the creative juices going (beats the heck out of staring at a blank page!).

And if I could, I would like to add one more very important point to the discussion, one which nobody but you (and I) ever talk about – You have to actually deliver on your subject line’s promise! I know guys in the business who will say anything to get you to open their Email, at which time you discover you’ve been duped into reading something you weren’t expecting. It was just a trick to get you to open their Email. Nobody likes to be duped. I normally give them 2 chances, then I exercise my power – either with “Delete” if I’m studying them or with “Unsubscribe” to get them completely out of my life. My time is too precious to waste & marketers have to EARN it, by golly.

You are a good case study, Charlie. “Triple results…” is a great subj. line that compels me to open ur Email. But the fact that the Eml came from Charlie Page, & I know Charlie delivers on the subj line’s promise, is crucial. And of course I’m also ur target reader…a 3rd important aspect…”Triple ur email results” really matters to me. Technique, congruance, integrity=$ucce$$!

    Charlie Page Reply

    Good observations. Thanks for sharing. Misleading subject lines are not only wrong, they are illegal. I took it for granted that my readers would never do that but it’s a good point and I’m happy you added it to the discussion. Thanks!

      Richard Reply

      Hi Charlie.
      All these different file types? How do I set them up.
      I don’t like to admit my ignorance, but I never have
      done any of that.
      Looking for advice, one of your not so intelligent readers.

      Charlie Page Reply

      What I’m recommending is making a simple text document using NotePad or another text editor and copying the subject lines that appeal to you. Once you have them in there you can modify to suit your needs.

Archie McKerrell Reply

Thank you for another very useful idea. I’m also left wondering if the disconnect between the ‘Swipe File’ in the title and the ‘swap file’ in the body was deliberate. It certainly got me reading the whole thing several times!

    Charlie Page Reply

    It was not deliberate. I did not know there was a disconnect. Both should have been swipe file, although the mistake was made because I personally call it a swap file.

Lee Wise Reply

Typically excellent, Charlie. I think the one point that I caught… or, rather, that grabbed my attention — was the aspect of reading a quality email for insights: a short course in copywriting. I’ve done that and not taken time to do that lately.

Of course, I paused along the way on this one to try and catch things like simple layout, easy to read, helpful tips, thematic, linking to products, etc.

Have a super weekend,


    Charlie Page Reply

    Thanks as alway Lee!

Liz Delaney Reply

Thanks again, Charlie for a quality article. I think this is a great idea. With so many emails coming through these days, it can be hard to remember the good headlines/ body/layouts/etc, so a swipe file is terrific. I’m off to create one right now.

    Charlie Page Reply

    I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me. I like the idea of using the flood of email to my benefit and not letting it overwhelm. Thanks!

Jerry Reply

Great info Charlie, I’ve been needing to do some tweaking of my emails and you’ve certainly supplied some inspiration.

    Charlie Page Reply

    Happy you liked it. Thanks for commenting.

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