Sir Robert Mark was the first Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to work his way up from a foot-patrolling constable to the top police job in the country, a fact that he was, quite rightly, proud of. He certainly repeated it often enough. He suggested to his publisher that the title of his autobiography should be, From Foot to Yard. You might think such a tight phrase would make the perfect Subject Line for a marketing email.
His publishers were of a different opinion. They rejected it and instead suggested, In the Office of Constable, which, many said, was incorrect as a commissioner does not have the power of a constable. But then the title is there to attract potential purchasers and not to convey precise information. Golda Meir, on the other hand, chose My Life for her autobiography.
The difference between the two titles gives us a lot of information about what we should go for email marketing Subject Lines. Meir’s title gives a little insight into the woman’s sense of humour and her, many suggest, humility, and does it in just two words. There’s economy for you. I’ve heard it suggested the publishers did not have the bravery to reject her preferred option.
Mark’s suggestion was a bit different, and the difference is significant. He wanted his title to be humorous as well as giving an insight to what to him was gave him a high degree of personal satisfaction and, while one might sympathise with the self-satisfaction of his achievement, the title is a far too important part of book sales to be used in that manner. In the Office of Constable carries a certain dignity, her degree of respect together with a nod to traditions. All probably what many potential purchasers would have expected.
When an inbox is inundated with Subject Lines all vying to grab the attention of the reader, a simple factual statement could well get lost and many email marketing companies have tried all sorts of tactics to up their open rates. Humour is a tool that can be effective in just that role. Who doesn’t want a laugh? That’s a question only you can answer about your subscribers.
If you see a pun, and know that it will be appreciated by your subscribers, then try it in your Subject Line. It must be relevant to the object you are selling and, obviously, to the recipient. One significant advantage is that humour is rare in email marketing and will probably come as a pleasant surprise. Aspects to watch would include whether it is in poor taste, might offend, might be too obscure/too obvious, or might be inappropriate to the item you are selling.
I’ve been asked in a marketing email Subject Line; Do you want to cancel your kids? For someone working from home, noise cancelling headphones might be received with some relief and any sting in the title was negated by the image of a smiling typist with children bouncing happily in the background.