As an avid reader of BBC News, I always wondered how they got me to open up and read their news articles. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a Commonwealth country or maybe it’s because their headlines are just interesting. They are not filled with alarmist terms like they are in the US – they are just effective.
Most of the headlines that you’ll see on the BBC only have 5 or 6 words. They are short, sweet and to the point. There is a lesson to be learned here for all of us. Long, wordy headlines are not easy to read if you read your email in the preview pane. You need to be able to catch the reader’s attention really quickly, otherwise they’ll move on. Your email headline shouldn’t explain in detail what your email is about, it should be short, punchy and interesting.
Here are examples of headlines that tend to work well:
12 Ways to Create Great Web Content – I’m a sucker for headlines with numbers; they get me EVERY SINGLE TIME! Wait, I only have to do 3 things to lose 10 pounds? Count me in; or 2 ways to look stunning every day? It gets me every time. So, using numbers is almost a guarantee that your email will be opened.
Another tactic to use is what I call ‘Doom and Gloom’. Using negativity appeals to many of us. It’s that ‘Ooh, let me see if I’m better than this’ question most of us have. It’s almost like taking that quiz to assess how good or bad you are at something. So, try something similar to: How to Be the Worst Email Marketer in 10 Easy Steps.
Most of us like to try the DIY method as long as it’s not expensive, too risky and doesn’t wreck something we’ve spent a lot of time on – which is why I have a fondness for browsing the shelves at the local neighborhood hardware store and buying too many things I’ll never use. Using the ‘How To’ phrase can often lead to that much cherished ‘click’. For example ‘How to Craft the Perfect Email Subject Line’ would certainly appeal to my inner-DIY personality. After all, I may save some money doing it myself and using those savings to spend on something I really can’t do myself.
If you’re stuck for headline ideas, consider the Idea Generator tool that I referred to in my blog, ‘Quick ways to compelling blog content’. I guarantee that you’ll generate a great headline and higher readership.
Next up in the series is ‘reverting back to Times Roman’.