This morning I received an email with the subject line: Al Roker is Fat Again. While I’m not an avid NBC Today Show follower, I opened the message instantly.
Writing subject lines that catch the attention of your reader is a skill that not everyone can claim. And depending on the medium — direct mail packages, email campaigns or websites — the tactic can be completely different. But crafting a great subject lines can make the difference between capturing eyeballs and the round file.
Direct marketers have long known this and spammers caught on to this tactic quickly. Consider all of the messages that you used to open — before we all became SPAM savvy — about subjects that had nothing to do with the headline.
So today when you’re competing with spammers and all kinds of other mailbox noise, how do you increase your open rate? Return to some of the basics of copy writing while still be mindful of the new media intricacies.
- Always write your copy first. I know we all come up with great ideas and try to start with a subject line but it doesn’t work. Subject Lines like headlines should grow. Get your message on paper, live with it for awhile then go back and compose a compelling headline.
- Consider what is important to your reader, not to yourself. You may have something great that you want to tell people but what is important to you isn’t what is necessarily important to your reader. Make sure you focus on their needs first then put that in your subject line.
- Make them actionable. Subject lines that include offers and deadlines compel people to open. But make sure you reward that open with supporting content and not unrelated material.
- Don’t waste space on mumbo jumbo. Subject lines are only so long. If you pack them with marketing-speak well then they will look like marketing gooble-de-gook and nobody will read them.
- Maximize your space. Depending on the way that readers receive your message, there may be limitations on the number of characters that appear in their email client. Really long messages will certainly get truncated but sometimes even short ones don’t get through — especially if your audience is filled with mobile users. Keep your subject line succinct and be sure to front load with the important data so that even if some of the words get cut off, they’ll want to know more and click on through.
And just for the record, the email about Al Roker was from someone I know otherwise I’d have deleted the message entirely thinking it spam.