How to make newsletter and email campaigns work for you

Sometimes, people really do judge a book by its cover, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the email marketing world. If that short headline displayed in their inbox doesn’t grab [and hold] their attention, your potential consumer will have already clicked away long before they have a chance to interact with even the very best content. So what’s a digital marketer to do? Here are Zebra 360’s top tips on crafting the perfect headline for your email or newsletter campaigns.

Compelling headlines get people to click through. They may be a small part of the overall campaign, but in many ways they are the mightiest. Believe us, the average inbox is packed with messages vying for the reader’s attention. What’s going to make yours stand out? Perhaps it’s one of these nifty tips!

What matters most in a subject line or headline?Screen Shot 2018 10 29 at 16.21.37 Eye-Catching headlines drive views

There’s no point in gilding your headlines if they’re weak to start with. Check you have your fundamentals in place before tweaking your campaign with subtle touches.

Subject line best practice includes generating a sense of urgency or scarcity without overdoing it- you don’t want to be that irritating company, after all. Use the power of the call to action, but use it wisely. Alternate it with the ‘need to know’. Humans are curious by nature, so a sense of mystery can often draw people in. Enigmatic is not the same as obscure, though- be aware of potentially sounding spammy, or simply losing your brand image in the attempt. Compelling the customer, however, or even cracking a great pun that will make them smile, will get eyes on your content happily.

There’s also the lure of free stuff to consider. A great offer can lead to a superb click rate, but again don’t bait and switch- make it a promise that’s meaningful to the audience and be sure to keep it. Bring your data into play too. Your audience is diverse, and you should aim to personalise the content you suit to match the people you’re targeting. Consider using personalisation tokens to insert names and personalised facts into the subject line for an extra engagement boost, and make sure you use your collected data wisely to categorize your consumers and keep campaigns relevant to their various subsections- don’t be the company that sends a steak promotion to Hindu customers on Diwali!

Then there’s the KISS principle: Keep it Simple. You could write a mile long headline, but why would you? The average inbox only shows very limited characters before it cuts off. Use them well. Of course, ALL CAPS, l33t speak, text slang or anything else gimmicky is verboten. It will tarnish your image, not boost it. You aren’t a teen, and neither is your brand, even if you’re targeting them. Don’t opt for multiple exclamation marks either. Keep it cool, clean and slick.

Above all, however, keep it relevant. This overlaps with curiosity a little, of course, but knowing when to go big on a trend or issue a timely headline to pique people’s interest can be a small miracle for your business- don’t waste it on the wrong opportunity.

Adding ‘curb-appeal’ to your client’s inbox

Now you have the firm basics of subject line best practice under your belt, what can you do to sweeten the deal? There’s a million and one ways to create innovation, and you’re sure to come up with a few yourself, but here’s a favourite few of ours you can consider.

  • Test, test and test again

There’s nothing wrong with- and a lot of insight in- testing your headlines before you go live. Try different screen sizes, devices and OSs. Not only does it net you valuable data on how people respond and what they see, but also lets you iron out any kinks you may discover before they lead you to disaster.

  1. Play to the lure of influencers

The dazzle of Hollywood has long attracted us all, and in the Instagram Generation it’s got more compelling. We’re far more likely to take action- even buying the gossipy trash mag we’d never admit to- if we see a name we recognise and love on it. So if you have a chance, hitch your wagon to that glittering star. But again, don’t try underhand tactics- make sure it’s someone or something relevant to you and your product, aligns with your values and is relevant to your consumer.

  1. Cool story, broScreen Shot 2018 10 29 at 16.24.55 Eye-Catching headlines drive views

You’ve heard the advice about leaving people wanting more? Eager people open emails to finish the story. You only have very few words to draw them in, so use them well. Craft a line they simply have to finish.

  1. Intruder, alert!

Make sure the receiver can immediately identify who you are, and has at least some chance of knowing why you are marketing to them. Being overtly spammy will land you in spam box purgatory before they see it, while simply being obscure will encourage user deletion, not engagement. Don’t be afraid to use personal names to promote the idea they’re dealing with a caring individual, not a cold storefront. Avoid the ‘noreply’ email address, too. Do you like dealing with robots? Do you like being ignored? Why would anyone else? People want to feel they can be heard, not face immediate stonewalling and a less-than-subtle request to leave you alone.

  1. Do not fake it to make it

This sage advice, for once, has no place in your email headlines. Don’t make fake promises about what’s inside. In fact, engage them by telling them directly what to expect. Keep your language concise, and use action words to pep the reader up instead. Making people [or your product] feel special or important is typically a winning strategy.

  1. Watch the clock

Do you know what’s not going to work? Sending a ‘use this dinner voucher now’ promotion when you’re closed for the weekend. No one remembers you on Monday. Instead, be the smart company that sends it out after work at the end of the week, when stressed families are likely to load the kids up in the car and be right over to use it.

At the end of the day, it’s about creating a tiny snippet of content that people want to engage with. Would you be lured in by your headline? No? Then why would anyone else? Keep it simple, keep your promises and keep them engaged and you’re on to a winner. Need some help creating amazing digital marketing? The Zebra 360 team is here to help!