Do you ever find yourself signing up for newsletters, subscriptions or emails in order to keep up with what is going on in your field or in your community only to find yourself swipe-deleting these emails every day without even opening them?
I know I do. There are just so many things clamouring for my attention that if I’m not grabbed by the subject line, it’s gone and forgotten.
But what does that mean for email marketers and for the people who are responsible for these newsletters and email notifications? How do they get their subscribers to open, read and act on the content provided?
Having great content is important — in fact it’s imperative if you are to provide a service and to create trust between you and your audience. But great content doesn’t matter if you can’t get people to read it. A bad title or subject line and your great content is tossed into the garbage or dropped into the delete folder never to be seen again.
So what can you do to minimize your audience’s urge to press — or realistically — to swipe delete?
1) Short and Interesting Subject Lines
If your subject line is truncated by your phone or by your inbox to the point where it needs to be fully opened to be read, it will be deleted. Keep it short and to the point.
I received an email from my Google+ account the other day that looked like this:
[PR & Communications Professionals] Communications professionals frequently …
My thought was — they frequently what? Have coffee? Make mistakes? Are ignored? Gone. Deleted. Now for the sake of the blog, I went into my delete folder to find this email to use as an example. Once opened it continued:
Communications professionals frequently interact with important stakeholders and customers. Unfortunately, these interactions aren’t always pleasant. Two recent articles address the best methods to create a positive experience for yourself and others.
The email then gave a link to a blog. Would I normally click on this link? No. Why? Because the content didn’t tell me anything useful.
- People interact with other people (Yes they do. So what?)
- Interactions aren’t always pleasant (True, still not stating anything useful)
- There are attached articles that will change point two (Would be useful except there are no attached articles, just a link to a blog. Liar.)
The content of this email reinforced my initial impulse to delete it without opening it.
2) Content Links that Reflect the Subject Line
You would think that this rule would be common sense, but I have come to understand that common sense isn’t very common at all. And so I clicked on the link that took me to the blog. The blog had the subject line:
Now was this the subject line for the email? No. Is this blog something that I want to read? No. But I will, just for you. Upon further inspection, the blog’s content did not include direct information for its own title nor the subject line of my email. Instead it outlined why two other articles should be read and that when they were read together they would give an overall feeling of the blog title. Fail.
My next thought was – Why couldn’t the exact articles be posted in the original email? Well that one is easy too – the articles were not the poster’s content to share.
The two articles were:
Both of these topics are miles away from “Communication Professionals frequently….” and are a waste of my time. If I had received an email with either of these titles, maybe I would have opened and read them because I was interested in those topics, not because I got there through false advertising for a different topic.
3) Know your audience (and create content they actually want to read)
Say you have a short, strong subject line, with accurate content links but your email isn’t interesting to your readers. It’s Deleted.
It’s all about knowing and understanding your audience and being able to predict what will and won’t be useful to them. It’s important to take them from the path of least resistance (Swipe/delete), to opening, reading and acting on your content. If they swipe too often, you might find your subscription list steadily declining as you loose the trust and attention of your audience.
Now occasionally I still get good content from this google+ group, so I haven’t quite reached the point of unsubscribing. But with enough mixed up and useless content, I will delete them.
Now Jon Morrow’s emails for example, catch my attention every time and lead me to useful, interesting and accurate content.
For example, I got an email that I opened on my phone that looked like this:
“New post: 63 Blogging Tools to ….”
Right away I know that:
- it’s new
- it’s about blogging
- there are 63 tools for me to read about
This is interesting content to me, so I proceeded to open it. The full subject line ended up being:
“New post: 63 Blogging Tools to Take You from Zero to $10 Million in Sales”
DONE. I’m definitely opening and clicking on that link (which has the same title as the email) and reading that really long blog. Note: It’s a misnomer that you have to be under 400 words in order to get people to read things. If they want to know badly enough, trust me they’ll read it. Then the blog actually goes through and talks about 63 blogging tools, exactly like it said it would. Amazing.
Strong Email Subject + Accurate links + Great Content = Subscribers
So next time you are wondering why you keep losing subscribers, or how to increase your subscriber numbers, remember these three rules. You will never be able to keep 100% of your list 100% of the time, but following these rules will help to stop the automatic swipe.