Your Email Newsletter Sucks
Or maybe it is just your headline.
Did the subject of this blog post get your attention? If you are reading this, then the answer is yes. That is the whole point. It doesn’t matter how interesting your content is, if the headline doesn’t grab attention, potential readers will scroll right by. That is a lot of pressure for 5 – 8 words.
So if you have content you really want people to read, you must nail the subject line. And sometimes, getting the headline right is almost as tough as writing the entire blog post or newsletter.
But it doesn’t have to be. If you know the tricks to writing a great headline you can transform boring to engaging, ho hum to wow!
So what are the tricks?
- A great headline takes time. I once read that you should spend as much time on your headline as you do on the entire blog post or newsletter. So when you are done writing go back and look at your original title, does it still work? Is it as strong as it could be? Give yourself some options by writing two or three variations before selecting the final headline.
- Keep it short. A casualty of the digital age is the attention span of readers. Readers scrolling through their news feed or inbox, simply won’t hang around for the punch line of a long headline. To make matters worse, email clients, search engines, and social media sites will often truncate long titles. So how short? You want to keep your headline to about 4-7 words, or a maximum of 50 characters.
- Minimize a boring detail. With so few words to work with, don’t waste even one character on unnecessary information. Phrases like: “New blog post” or “News from” are a complete waste of words. This is especially true if you already have a relationship with your audience. Do you really need to reintroduce yourself the 50th time you meet someone? Of course not. You don’t need to do it in your headline either.
- Tell readers what is in it for them. People gravitate toward things which promise to help them achieve a positive outcome. While everyone of is different most human needs boil down to food, shelter, security, freedom, companionship, protection, and social approval. If you can use words and phrases in your headline to connect your content to the emotional goal of your reader you’ll have their attention. This works in the positive and the negative. People will be even more interested in products and services which help them avoid the loss of one of these things.
- Keep it Personal. People want to feel special. A personalized email subject line can make your reader feel as if the
message is just for them. While you may not always be able to create a completely unique subject line for the thousands of subscribers to your email program, a segmented list will allow you to create more targeted and personal communication. The more you drive content to a narrow niche, the more likely your reader will identify with the content and open the email. Personalizing emails to cater to your audience’s emotions or desires at a particular moment in time.
- Email headlines by the numbers. Plenty of great writers are rolling their eyes at this suggestion, but trust me, numbered lists always perform well. People understand exactly what they’re getting and know they’ll be getting it in short bites instead of huge text boxes. Are they a cliché? Maybe. But they’re clichés that get clicks. Numbers pique human curiosity. When you use a number in a subject line, people have a hard time resisting the urge to click. People are also time-starved. They want something that is concise, easy to read and provokes thought or learning but doesn’t take too much of their time. The reader will think: “Only 3 tips? Or top 10 reasons? I can remember that many things.” This works in almost every category.
- Pique the reader’s curiosity. While direct headlines can be effective, they can become boring over time. So, sometimes a more subtle message designed to pique the recipient’s natural curiosity and say “Huh? What could this be about?” is effective. The trick with this type of headline is the payoff must deliver on the promise made in the headline. If you can make them laugh or tell them something they did not know, you will have a winning combination. However, you need to use this approach sparingly or it begins to lose its impact.
A great headline will open the door, next you have to deliver with great content to seal the deal. And that is a completely different conversation for another blog post.
The Gain Headline
The Pain Headline
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