In the past week or so, I've given one piece of advice more than any other (when it comes to writing copy, at least):
Make sure your reader knows he's in the right place -- and do it FAST.
I can't be sure, but Conrad may have been saying those very words in the picture below as we did live copy critiques in Atlanta on Saturday night. (Entrepreneurs stood line line until after midnight to have us look at their sales pages.)
For the most part, I've given this advice with regard to sales pages and websites, but it applies germane to writing effective emails, too.
Two things quickly tell your reader whether "This is for ME":
Your From line can become a set of keys for your reader's front door.
Email marketing teachers and "experts" give subject lines all the attention. It's a much sexier topic. And don't get me wrong; subject lines are important -- and they can let your subscriber know right away whether a given message is for him... or not so much.
I just finished running a subject line test for a client that provides some insight into this fact.
The purpose of this test was to see if traditional marketing-style subject lines worked better than ones that didn't sound as much like there would be a pitch inside.
For example: "Where is [expert] Putting His Own Money?" vs. "What is [Company's] Vice President So Excited About?"
Everything else about the emails, sales page and order form were identical.
Long story short: the more traditional subject lines had fewer opens, but higher clickthrough and conversion rates overall.
In this case, I believe the readers knew what they were getting into when they opened the more obvious marketing emails. They weren't surprised by the pitch.
They knew they were in the right place -- and it turned into more sales for my client.
(I plan to share more details of the subject line test in the Email Copywriting Corner Facebook group on Friday. If you're interested, we'd love to discuss the specifics with you.)
Subject lines don't have to be straightforward, and they should NOT be boring. But they do have to put your reader in the right state of mind.
Getting more people to open isn't always the answer. You want more of the RIGHT PEOPLE to open...prepared to take the RIGHT ACTION you prescribe.
Emails That Make Sales gives you a number of curiosity-sparking "fill-in-the-blanks" subject lines and email templates that help you get more of the right kind of opens.
Even better, you'll be able to increase the frequency and value of your communications, which makes your From line increasingly attractive and influential.