Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Communication and Marketing: Questionable subject lines

In  a recent blog post I read about subject line ideas for email newsletters, I found the suggestions to be rather "spammy" sounding. And I think it has to do with the "headlines" that I get from Facebook's "suggested posts" or email "newsletters" that I never subscribed to.
THIS is my favorite spam, not junk from the internet.

The first one was what turned me off to the whole post: Idea 1 - Mystery.
If you want to make a headline irresistible, add a bit of mystery. (You’ll notice I try to add a bit of mystery to almost every headline) 
“You’re going to freak when you see this”
“You won’t believe this when you hear it”

I see these headlines preceding everything from weight loss miracles to fuzzy feel-good puppy videos. And all these posts or emails want to promote is traffic; spam to take up my time and screen space. I felt the same way about this post's "drama" idea. As intriguing as a newsletter or post title is, if I don't think opening the link or email will benefit me and be good use of my screen time, I won't bother.

Now, the second and third ideas of using a question or setting up anticipation ("don't miss out!") make compelling headlines for posts and subject lines, but the examples this blogger used in the post were also very spam-sounding. One of my favorite newsletters that I subscribe to is from author and writing instructor Holly Lisle. Her subject lines utilize these two ideas frequently. Her last one, "I want to trade GIMP skills for a free writing class," gives recipients a quick idea that if they know a particular skill, they should hurry and let her know so they don't "miss out" on a free class. I have no idea what GIMP is, so apparently, I missed out. ^_^

The idea that made the most sense in the blog post was number ten, "unlikely combinations." This option shows a newsletter's or post's worthiness by using creative wordsmithing. If you can catch my attention with something odd or surprising (like this poster's example, "Today: Songs about pudding and car repair"), then I would be more likely to open the email or click on the post.

Which leads to my closing point of today's post. I haven't done a newsletter in over a year, but I try to promote my blog by updating my Facebook and Google+ feeds and tweeting a link to my current posts. But I want readers to click through to my blog because I want to provide worthwhile reading, not more random visits to my page to improve my ranking. And I truly hope that I am providing that for you!

What is the worst newsletter/feed headline you've seen so far? Let me know in the comments below!

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