It may not be very nice, but it sure does grab your attention, doesn’t it?
Not judging a book by its cover is a good practice when you are hanging out a Barnes & Noble, but the truth is, we all do judge in a glance. David Ogilvy, considered by many to be the father of modern advertising once said…
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
The same is especially true when we are opening emails.
The average open rate across all industries is roughly 25%. So that tells us that 75% of emails hit the trash for various reasons.
Let’s fix that, shall we?
Crafting emails that will get opened, read and hopefully acted up, is well…we already said it, a craft.
In true Ogilvy-fashion, we should spend 80% of our time working on our headline (in this case, a subject line) and 20% of our time in the body copy.
That may be easier said than done, but it should serve as a guiding principle of where to spend time and resources when it comes to writing your emails.
Whether you are sending one email at a time, or you’ve got a whole sequence of emails stacked in the queue and ready to go, here are some good examples to follow. It’s helpful to write 2-4 headline options, and then pick the one that best fits the purpose(s) of either yourself or your client.
Quick note: [The comments in bold and in [ ] wouldn’t appear on a subject line, but are given to show what the headline is seeking to accomplish.]
These are subject lines for a fictional nutritional company, but the principles could be applied across various industries.
You’ll get the idea…
1: Purpose of the email: ‘Welcome’
2: Purpose of the email: Identify pain points
3: Purpose of email: Offer a solution to a problem
4: Purpose of email: Explain benefits and features
6: Purpose of email: Offer a special deal or savings
7: Purpose of email: Prove your claims from outside authority
8: Purpose of email: Offer the last chance to buy
9: Purpose of email: Thank your customers
Remember, writing a good subject line is not an exact science and it often requires trial and error.
When you’ve narrowed down your headline choices, you can find which one fits best by sending it out to 2 different groups with 2 different subject lines and see which one performs better. This is called split testing or A/B testing. It can be a very valuable tool in helping you understand your target audience and what they respond to by opening.
This exercise of crafting your subject lines before you begin writing also help inform your writing. A good subject line will lend itself to a more cohesive message throughout your email.
Spend 80% on your headline, 20% on your body copy, and you’ll (likely) be 100% satisfied.
Share in the comments below how you craft your subject lines. I’d love to hear!