The last issue of “Changing Lanes” featuring the subject line “My father doesn’t like me” nearly broke a record for number of opens (that’s how many people actually opened the e-mail for you folks who do not use Constant Contact). While pleased with that result, it remains a bit troubling that an e-mail that contained an obituary of another “Joe D’Eramo” achieved the most opens since the re-launch of Changing Lanes in 2010.
On the flip side, it does illustrate a point that yours truly has tried to hammer home with clients and potential clients for years. You
must treat your subject line as your headline. If you do not give the reader a reason to open it, he or she will not. It’s just the nature of people these days. We only have a certain amount of time and if there doesn’t appear to be any news of interest in an e-mail, then we move on.
That’s not saying you have to resort to trickery and fancy word play to get people to open and read your e-newsletter. That typically
works only once and then you risk losing your readers forever. But you do have to deliver a punchy headline that scratches an itch or piques their curiosity-then deliver the goods in the newsletter.
The shame is that many e-newsletters do have a worthwhile message that can benefit the reader in some way-new product, new
service, tip on how to do something more cost-effectively. Then they essentially throw it away with a subject line like “News from …”.
You’re probably saying “Joe, you’re just trying to justify people hiring copywriters to do their newsletters.” My answer, “you’re darn right I am!” But the greater point, whether you hire a writer to do it or not, is that you should put as much thought if not more into your subject line as you do the introductory paragraph of the newsletter. It doesn’t even have to be the most creative headline of all time. Just tell them why they should open your e-mail and you’d be surprised how open rates will rise. And that’s a whole lot easier than finding an obituary with your name on it.