38 posts categorized "Copywriting"

Personalizing Your Subject Line

I have worked on email marketing campaigns in the past that  included the subscriber’s first name in the subject line.  The open rates on these campaigns were always much higher than the same message sent with a generic subject line without personalization. 

At the time, there was a lot of discussion about the reason behind it.  One thought is that the person who has provided their first name was more interested.  A warmer lead.  Another thought is that people are excited to see a message sent directly to them.   I believe it could be both of these combined.

Jcwhitney I recently received an email from J.C. Whitney, a retailer that sells “Everything Automotive”  The Subject Line:

Maddy, Don't Wait! Order Now And Make No Payments For Up to 12 Months!

The exclamation marks and overall feel may have landed this message in junk folders. When I saw this in my inbox, my first name jumped out at me and was intriguing enough to get an open out of me. 

Much like my thoughts on using questions in the subject line I would urge the use of first names in subject lines sparingly.  Overuse will cause your subscribers to ignore your message.

Could the best subject line ever be a “Personalized Question”?  If you have ever tried this tactic, I would love to hear about your results. 

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How to Create a Strong Call to Action

In this article, Stefan Pollard explains how to create a strong call-to-action (CTA).

Basically, in an email message, the call to action has three elements: the action you want the reader to take, the words you use to issue the call, and its physical appearance (text, image, location).

Read the full article and discover a couple of strategies to help you cover all your bases:

1. Separate the Click from the Call
2. Express the CTA Clearly
3. Sprinkle Links Generously
4. Use Text to Make CTAs Pop
5. Location, Location, Location

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Getting the Subject Line Right

One of the most important elements of your email communications is the subject line. Next to the "from" address -- which should be a recognizable company name -- the subject line will determine whether your email gets opened.

Writing a great subject line is no small challenge. You only have a few words to make it compelling, urgent and specific -- without sounding too sales-like or misleading your readers.

Here are some tips for writing subject lines that'll get great results:

1. Keep it short and sweet.
Do your best to keep your subject lines under 50 characters, including spaces, as most email clients display 50 characters or less.

2. Be specific. A vague subject line is a waste of prime real estate.

3. Write it last.
When you're done with the body of your email, read it over, pick the nugget that'll entice your readers to learn more by opening your message and use that for your subject line.

4. Take some time. Considering how important subject lines are, take some time to think about them and write several -- at least three or four -- before choosing which one to use.

5. Test it.
  Split your list in half and use a different subject line for each group. After a number of tests like this, you'll have a very good idea of what works for the people on your list.

The next time you're tempted to rush through the process of writing a subject line, think about the number of emails you get every day. After the effort you've put into composing your email, don't you want to ensure that people open and read it?

Source: The Street

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Reportlet: Branded Subject Lines

There’s significant evidence that consumers are more likely to open emails whose subject lines contain the brand name of the sender. For instance, nearly half (48.8%) of consumers are attracted to emails that have the brand name of the sender in the subject line, according to Return Path’s Third Annual Holiday Email Consumer Survey. That makes it almost as powerful as subject lines that offer a discount or free shipping, which 49.6% of respondents said made a subject line catch their attention.

Chad White did a little research and found that 67% of retailers never or rarely put their brand name in the subject line. Read his reportlet here.

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Is it OK to Use The Same Subject Line?

There aren't any reliable statistics that show whether a subject line that never varies will draw better or worse than one which changes to reflect the new content in each issue. You can test this on your own audience, however, using a standard A/B split test.

Divide your database in two. Email the newsletter with the standard subject line to one segment, then create a unique subject line for the other segment. Do this for at least three publishing cycles, and always send the same subject-line configuration to the same segment of your database. Then, compare the results. If you see a difference of more than 5 to 10 percentage points in your open statistics, it's probably significant enough to drive your decision.

Why Go Unique?
When you repeat the subject line over and over, you don't give readers a compelling reason to open the email. We believe the best practice is to create a unique and compelling subject line for each issue.

You can create a subject line that's both instantly familiar AND unique each time by incorporating your newsletter name in either the sender line (the "from" line) or by putting it first in the subject line.

Source: EmailLabs

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How To Create Standout Subject Lines

Even if you don't send email messages that are clearly commercial, your emails could get lost in the crowd if your subject lines don't distinguish you.

According to Stefan Pollard, a good subject line has three essential qualities: branding, urgency and brevity:

  1. Branding: The brand, company name, publication or mailing name figures prominently. Never make readers guess who you are.

  2. Urgency: It sums up the message content with the message's most compelling feature, top story or other information that signals the reader to open it as quickly as possible.

  3. Brevity: It tells the story in 60 characters or fewer so that crucial information doesn't get cut off in the inbox.

In the holiday season, B2C marketers will have to add a fourth quality: distinction. What will distinguish your limited-time free-shipping offer from the 15 to 20 others that are probably poised for delivery right now to your customers' inboxes?

So, you need not only to write a good subject line but also know what your direct competitors are sending out, along with all of the other direct merchants whose emails will compete with yours for the reader's attention. It's a tall order, but this article will outline how to do it.

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6 Simple Steps to Response-Driving Subject Lines

Tami Monahan Forman is Director of Strategic Services at ReturnPath. In her work with Return Path clients, she gets to help write a lot of subject lines. She's decided to share the method het department has developed for writing subject lines.

Following these 6 steps will make the task of writing subject lines easier and more effective.

1. Quickly write at least 6 potential subject lines. Don’t think too hard about what will work best -- just string together words that are relevant to your message. At this point, they don’t even have to make sense.

2. Sit back and examine your list: Are there certain words that keep popping up? Are you struggling over word choices? Have you got at least three compelling options that convey your message? If not, go back to step one. If so, move on to step three ….

3. Hone your list by eliminating or editing any that are clearly unsuitable. If needed, write one or two more. You want to have at least four at this point.

4. Count ’em up! Many of you will be able to eyeball the length, but go ahead and count the characters using Word’s word count function. Put the number next to the line in parentheses. Example: Six Secrets to Sales Success (28). Remember that spaces count! (See their post about how subject line length affects response for guidelines.)

5. Now, sit back and eyeball your list again. Is one really grabbing you? Does another look really flat now? Are they all clearly too long? If you answered yes to the last question, go back to step three. If not, move on to step six. …

6. Time to pick ’em. Always test your subject lines, so pick at least two. Make sure they are truly different. You may need to choose one and then write an alternative version to make the test meaningful. It’s actually easier if you pick an element that you want to test: length, word choice (save vs. discount) or use of your brand name. This will help you isolate variables and carry learning forward.

Use this method on a half dozen messages and soon you’ll be able to do it in 10 minutes or less. You will come up with better subject lines in less time with less effort than ever.

Source: Return Path

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5 Tips on a How to Write a Better Subject Line

According to Janine Popick there are three things to think about when writing a subject line for your email marketing campaign:

  • You need to write it so that it gets through filters
  • You need to write it so that it's compelling enough to get your email opened
  • You need to keep to the expectations you set - If you are living up to the expectations you set in the beginning of your e-relationship, chances are you've got a good shot at getting your email opened with a good subject line.

These are her five tips on how to write a better subject line:

  1. Avoid too much punctuation - A lot of filters pick this up as spam since it's a spammer technique. Putting an exclamation point after the word FREE! is not advisable. It's ok to use some punctuation, just don't overdo it.
  2. Avoid using the word FREE in all caps - Some say it's ok to use the word "Free", others say it isn't. If you have to use it don't abuse it.
  3. Put the most valuable information up front - Many of your recipients show 40-50 characters as the default unless your recipients widen their subject line area.
  4. Don't repeat your "From" label - You've already told your recipient who you are, tell them why they'd want to open it. You've only got a small amount of space, don't waste it.
  5. Give your recipient a "reason" to open your email - Don't generalize if you can, hit them where it counts. If there is an interesting article in your newsletter call it out. If you've told them you would send them discounts, just do it.

Read more here.

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Subject Line Research: Response Goes Down As the Characters Go Up

By Ed Taussig, Director of Software Development & Eunhee Lee, Senior Database Developer, ReturnPath

The issue of subject line length is something that gets debated endlessly around the marketing water cooler. Most people know that anything longer than 55 characters (and, just a reminder, the spaces do count!) will get cut off. And many have heard the maxim that 35 is really a better number to aim for. But, does anyone know how the length of the subject line actually affects response?

Well, yes, in fact. We did an analysis on all acquisition campaigns sent through our Postmaster Direct Network over the last two years. We found that response rate (as measured by clicks) goes down dramatically when the subject line is longer than 50 characters. How dramatic is this difference? Click-through rates for subject lines with 49 or fewer characters were 75 percent higher than for those with 50 or more.

Yowza. That's real money that marketers are leaving on the table when they get too verbose.

What about open rates? While the difference wasn't as dramatic, we found that subject lines with 49 or fewer characters had open rates 12.5 percent higher than for those with 50 or more. Would you be pleased if your next campaign improved its open rate by 12.5%? Yeah, we thought so.

Of course, it's important to remember that there is more to the subject line than character count. There are plenty of 30-character subject lines that bomb. And, admittedly, some longer subject lines that perform above expectations. Testing your subject lines on your list is the only way to know what will work and what won't. But, this research clearly shows that, in fact, brevity is the better part of valor.

Source: ReturnPath

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Best and Worst Subject Lines

MailChimp analyzed over 40 million emails and compared the subject lines from the campaigns with the best open rates (60-80%), and the campaigns with the worst open rates (1-14%).

Have a look at some real examples of the most effective subject lines and some examples of how NOT to write a subject line.

Bottom line: when it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what's inside, and the worst subject lines sell what's inside.

Read the full article here.

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Do questions make effective subject lines?

In today's issue of BtoB's E-Mail Marketer Insight, Marilou Barsam, VP-client consulting services for TechTarget, answers the question "Do questions make effective subject lines?". Here's (part of) her answer:

Using a question as a subject line can produce strong results if you follow some simple guidelines:

Know your audience.
If you understand what makes recipients tick, what their priorities are and what motivates them, you will strike a chord with them by asking a question that speaks directly to their specific interests.

Be provocative.
Pose a question that demands an answer. Ask about a controversial issue or industry trend - something that they could not help but have an opinion about because it affects them in some way.

Be brief.
Fewer words are easier to read. A quick question will actually stand out more in the list of subject lines that appear in recipients' e-mail boxes. Use strong words that pop off the screen, but stay away from hype.

Read the full article here.

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Why Direct Mail Copy is Not Suited for Email

Yesterday I attended a seminar that covered topics ranging from enterprise search to search engine optimization and search engine marketing to web statistics and metrics. At a certain moment I found myself discussing some issues I'm facing day-to-day with another participant to the event. And you know what? It seems I'm not the only one facing these issues. What a comfort! But also: how sad!

Let me give you an example: very regularly I am being presented with copy for an email which is basically just a copy and paste job from the direct mailer. Usually the direct mail copy is written by a copywriter, but not the email or landing page copy. However, copywriting for web & email is so much different than writing for offline communication pieces. Why? Well, first of all people don't "read" a webpage or an email, they merely "scan" the text for something interesting.

This means that you should write your copy keeping this in mind:

  • come to the point early (see my previous post)
  • use very short sentences and short paragraphs
  • use an active voice
  • talk about "you" rather than "me"
  • use bullet points
  • use subheaders
  • use images to support your story (eg: if you're offering a white paper, then include a screenshot of it in your email)
  • make sure your call to action is obvious
  • link to your call to action multiple times (using both text and image links)
  • keep it short: email copy should only be 50% of your direct mail copy
  • focus on one topic per email to enhance your conversion rates
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Average Email Read Time is 15-20 Seconds

So, what are your readers looking at during that 15-20 seconds? And, how much are they seeing during that brief time span? Sometimes readers are excited about the content and click on a link immediately, but sometimes they close the email very quickly.

Ultimately, this means that you have little time to grab your readers' attention. So, if your email has graphics aside from text, your readers are most likely spending some of that 15-20 seconds looking at the graphics, like your logo, instead of reading the copy you've worked so hard to write.

Your readers are only giving you a few seconds to convince them to take action and are reading a lot less of the copy in the email.

Read how to appeal to short attention spans

Source: Informz

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Writing Successful Subject Lines

If you can't get your prospect to open an email, that great copy or offer inside will never matter.

Still, the subject line's importance is often overlooked. SubscriberMail states that in their experience with clients, it's common to find them agonizing over the offer, the creative and landing page. Yet, too often it is the pivotal subject line that is written or chosen just minutes before mailing.

Fact is, your subject line deserves as much attention as any other component in your email campaign.

Creating a successful subject line is critical in a world filled with marketers competing for attention. Without a good one, even the best offer from the most trusted brand can be deleted in one quick click.

Source: SubscriberMail (February Newsletter)

Tips on how to write successful subject lines:

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Why people don't read email newsletters

When you send an e-mail newsletter, you want people to read it, don't you? Actually, maybe you don't. Most website visitors don't read the page word by word. Instead, they scan it, looking for highlights that catch their eye...

The process is less like reading text, and more like viewing a painting or photo. The eye roams across the surface looking for somewhere to focus. If that point can't be found, we interpret the image (or page of text) as 'difficult'. More...

Source: iStart

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