It doesn’t matter if your blog post or newsletter is literary gold. With a crummy subject line, people won’t read the message you’ve painstakingly crafted.
In today’s environment of digital mania, less patience and overstretched schedules, you need to show your reader that clicking and reading is worth her time. Conveying that value in a handful of words takes thought, time and practice.
Write better subject lines with these tips:
- Keep it short and sweet: 35 characters or less.
- Promise some kind of benefit.
- Be fun, quirky or intriguing.
- When in doubt, ask a question.
Brainstorm a few ideas. Before you click “send,” try the subject lines on for size. Here’s how:
- Would you click? Look at each line alone and see if it’s something that would intrigue you to click. If the words are even remotely boring or generic, go back to the drawing board.
- Would they click? Think about which subject lines your audience would open. What are their needs? What information do they want? Your opinion matters, but theirs matters more.
- Visualize it. Send the subject lines to yourself so you can see them in your inbox. You’ll know right away which one stands out.
- Get a second, third, and fourth opinion. As individuals, we can be biased, especially towards our own creations. Ask a few colleagues what would compel them most. The most votes wins.
- Learn from your stats. Check your email newsletter and blog open rates! You will gain insight into what makes your audience click.
- Ask for help. If you know you’ve written something powerful, and don’t want it to be rendered invisible by a bad subject line, get some help. (We’re here, and we think fast.)
As I said in an earlier post, Is Less Copy a Good Idea?, in writing, shorter is harder. With only 35 characters to attract the attention of an overstimulated audience, boring just won’t cut it. Make a good first impression and take extra care to pack your subject lines with attention-getting value.