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3 powerful and effective ways to write better email subject lines right now

There’s no point writing content if people aren’t going to read it.

Last week, we explained the six silly mistakes that will stop people from reading and engaging with your content. This week, we want to look in more detail at headlines, which are the gateway to getting more of your emails read.

Who better to help us take a deeper dive into the subject than Nick Parkhouse, our Head of Content?

Over to Nick…

What’s the point of sending an email?

It sounds like a daft question, as the answer is typically “because you want someone to read it”.

According to stats, though, the average office worker receives 121 emails in a day. That’s about 15 an hour, one every four minutes. So, how do you get them to read yours?

It might be simple if you’re the boss and you email a colleague to ask them to do something.

It’s less easy if you’re a financial planner and you want that accountant prospect you’ve been nurturing for months to read what you send.

One way that you can help to maximise the chances of someone opening your email is with a brilliant subject line.

The modern godfather of copywriting, David Ogilvy, said this in his book Confessions of an Advertising Man: “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Improving the subject lines on emails to drive engagement has been a big part of the work I’ve done with my team over the last year. So, if you’re going to spend four-fifths of your entire content budget on the subject line alone, it had better be good. Here are three powerful ways to make it so.

1. Use emotional words

There’s a simple reason that emotional words work in subject lines, and that’s because people connect to emotion rather than words. If you provide content that elicits an emotional response – surprise, relief, curiosity, joy, or anger – your readers are more likely to engage with it.

If you want people to feel positively about you, use positive words and phrases:

  • Simple
  • Attractive
  • Helpful
  • Satisfy
  • Quick/quickly
  • Interesting
  • Happy
  • Value
  • Quality
  • Guaranteed
  • Useful

Readers like a positive tone. They want to get a worthwhile and beneficial experience from reading your content, so are likely to be engaged if you can offer a hassle-free, simple, and rewarding experience.

2. Frame it as a question, “how to” article, or list

Coming up with a subject line for an email (or the title for a blog or article) often feels like the thing you do at the end when all the hard work is over.

It’s not.

Remember the words of David Ogilvy: “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Simply, if your subject line or blog title is boring, it won’t matter how much love and care you’ve put into writing the content. No one will read it.

Here are three simple tips for making a subject line more engaging.

  • Frame it as a question. “Would you like to save £100 on your car insurance?”
  • Turn it into a “how to” article. “How to retire early without changing your lifestyle now”
  • Make it a list. “5 good financial habits to adopt that could boost your wealth in 2022”

Read more about the power of numbers in headlines in our blog.

3. Make it relevant NOW

Back in 2016, online marketing guru Jordie van Rijn said: “Attention is always real-time. You don’t have to create the most interesting thing ever, just the most interesting thing at the moment.”

So, making your subject line grab a readers’ attention in that moment should be your goal.

There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Make sure the email goes at the right time. We spend a lot of time aligning the content we write with things going on in the wider world. This helps to ensure that content lands when readers are already “primed” to expect something on that subject. The Budget, the tax year end, Halloween, National Pensions Week, Talk Money Week and Christmas are just a few examples.
  • Use the present tense when discussing the content of the email (this, now, today).
  • Use words that suggest limited time offers or material that’s time sensitive. Your reader should see the subject line and feel as if they need to open it right away to avoid missing crucial information or a deadline.

Look at the subject line/title of this blog – it’s the “right now” that suggests you should read what we say straight away.

Drive engagement with your content

If your content strategy isn’t working as well as you’d like, or you’d simply like to improve engagement with your audiences, we can help.

Our team of expert financial copywriters are skilled in providing the right content for your business. And, crucially, we’ll write it in a way that encourages your audience to engage with it.

To find out how we can help you, email or call 0115 8965 300.

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