Over 50% of people will open an email if it has a compelling headline as reported by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
We believe that there are three essential elements to a good headline:
Headlines are very hard to write well because there is a lot of information to squeeze in a 55-60 characters. This is why we narrowed them down to 3.
Of the three, utility is the most important. Making it clear that this email is worth reading is job number 1. If your title doesn’t make it clear to the reader what is in it for them, rewrite it.
Many people can write the headline so the utility is clear but the headline is too long, which leads the next point.
This is where it gets even tougher - how to condense your utility in 3 or 4 words. This is where keywords can be helpful. People are searching every day for information about your topic, so you can leverage those searches to see which terms they use most often. They are generally a very good predictor of which words will work best.
Now, we come to our last point, urgency. Of the hundreds of emails a person receives in a day, we need to convince them as to why they should read ours now. We’ve become so desensitized to “now”, “today”, etc. that they have lost their impact.
Real offers with deadlines do still work. Deals or other incentives or limited access to an event still deliver.
The last thing you want after creating a great headline to boost open rates is to lose them with poor design.
Email design follows the same principles of web design. Communication is messy, and design helps aid in getting our intended message across quickly and efficiently.
An email is an intrusion. We need to recognize this fact. Therefore, we need to make that intrusion as brief and clear as possible by sticking with one clear message.
We cover email design in great detail in our post on small business email marketing. We will just touch on the high points here.
Using color remains more of an art than a science, even though we have studied it since the ancient Greeks.
The challenge with color is context. Some colors, such as blue/green, are seen as pleasing when in an environmental setting, but as disgusting when on bread as mold.
Therefore, the first thing we need to consider with color is context. The next is harmony.
Color should enhance, not detract or compete with your message. Color used well can be attention grabbing, which used poorly can be overwhelming.
Tools like the color wheel can help. The color wheel is based on the harmonics of different wavelengths of light. Just like music, some notes sound better together, while others sound like noise.