I’ve mentioned before, and will mention again, that in order to get ahead of your competitors you must go outside of email marketing to look for ideas that might work for you. Take Subject Lines.
I’ve just written a book and I’m struggling, as always, to come up with the perfect title. It is non-fiction and appeals to a relatively small section of the book-reading public. I know the keyword that I must use for the book title to attract my target audience, but my book will be one among many. I want a title to encourage readers to look at it.
This should sound familiar to you as it is the sort of situation you suffer under when looking for a Subject Line for your next email marketing campaign. The thing to do is what anyone in book publishing will do; sit back and work out first of all what will excite your target audience enough to open it. Or you could come at it from another direction and pick a title as if it was a book.
There’s an old story, probably apocryphal but I’ll use it, that a book entitled The Mystery of the Iron Mask suffered poor sales. The publisher made a small change, the addition of just one critical word. The Mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask, personifying the matter rather than just having a mystery about an object. Potential purchasers now thought of a man trapped in a device of torture. Sales tripled.
There’s little chance of you tripling your open rate by the addition of one word, but the example still applies. The change made people relate to the book as there was someone involved. Just as importantly, they were intrigued.
There’s an entertaining YouTube TED Talk video, presented by Chip Kidd, whose role includes choosing titles. He makes some excellent points, so you can learn while laughing. It encapsulates the difficulties publishers experience and as such are directly relatable to email marketing.
When browsing for a book, the norm is that you are presented by just the title, publisher and author. The purpose of these are to get the you to remove the book from the shelf so that you can decide whether it might be worth buying. Isn’t that the purpose of the Subject Line of a marketing email?
One vital aspect of any book title is that it should give some indication of what is inside. It doesn’t have to explain everything, but it should enable the browser to work out if it is worth further investigation. Another vital requirement is that the book title/Subject Line should relate to what the book/email delivers.
People are not judging a book by its cover but are using the title as an indicator as to whether it might interest them. In the same way a subscriber will not decide to buy a product solely on the strength of the Subject Line. All they are doing is working out whether it is worth further investigation.