Magazine headlines are similar to email subject lines, blog post titles or social media posts/tweets/statuses in that they must have a hook to get readers to pay attention quickly.
Imagine scrolling through your inbox this morning, scanning down the list of emails, trying to decide what needs attention. Should I open it now, later . . . or never? The important factors are: Who is it from? What's it about? If the subject line isn't compelling, you may decide to save opening the message until later and we all know what happens to messages left in the "later" category.
How to write a good subject line.
- Keep it short - between 5 to 8 words, under 40 characters. Your reader's email client may limit what is visible on their screen.
- Put the important stuff first - the first couple of words may be all your reader will consume before deciding whether to open or ignore your message.
- Substitute numbers for characters where appropriate - "5 ways to get your emails opened". This buys you more space.
- Build intrigue. Know your audience and use words that resonate with your readers.
- Stay away from ALL CAPS and overuse of symbols (!!!, $$, ....) as they can be filtered as spam.
- Don't use the word e-blast - EVER! No one wants to be blasted with email.
- Try not to be boring. "June Newsletter" isn't going to make readers jump out of their chairs.
Writing a compelling subject line is an art. Publication companies have teams of copy editors whose job is to make you stop and read their covers and hopefully pick up the magazine and put it in your shopping cart. The next time you're standing in line at the grocery store, scan a few article titles to see what makes you want to learn more, then come back to your office and compose a killer subject line for your next campaign.