Make your audience click: how to write an engaging e-mail headline?

Photo by Hannes Johnson on Unsplash

Are you struggling to write an e-mail headline that lets your customers engage with you? Are your open rates not as high as your content deserves? In that case, it might be helpful to consider below tips while writing your e-mail headlines.

E-mail headlines might be even more important for your business then the content of the actual e-mail. They are written to get your customers open up to your product or service and engage with you. They are the bait you use in that intimidating sea of e-mails your customers already are receiving.

With increasing spam filters and keyword blockers boosting your delivery- and open rates is hard enough as it is, and a headline is, well, just a line. You only have a few words that will determine the rest of your customer’s flow. This is why you can’t just write any old headline, it needs to be attention-grabbing and have a strategy behind it.

Lucky for you, I have some tips up my sleeve that, with a gameplan and some common sense, can boost your open rates from zero to hero. Check it out:

First things first

Let’s start defining your brand’s tone of voice and your audience. Are there guidelines you need to be mindful of? Is there any political issue that you need to take out of the equation to avoid shit hitting the fan? Which keywords are your subscribers searching for? Which keywords are blocked by spam filters?

Be aware, if you choose to bypass this important first step you set yourself up for failure and all the hard work you’ve poured into your e-mail goes down the drain, fast.

Have you written down these ground rules that are defining the framework of your audience and brand? Then you’re ready to define a gameplan for your headline!

Missing information

A lot of headlines are based on psychological reasoning, and so is leaving a piece of information out. It’s in the human DNA to want to solve the puzzle. So if you would say ‘do you remember these phrases from the 90’s’ people want to know which phrases you’re talking about. They want to know if they are right. Your open rate will increase just by leaving information out. Who would’ve thought!

Get intimate

People want a personal connection. If they won’t feel connected on a deep level, they won’t trust you or come back to you. Today, we have access to so much data it would be a crime not to use it. Therefore the future of e-mail marketing is based on being as personal you can be. Send out behaviour based e-mails in real-time to your audience and customize the content to their situation and interest. Show them a glimpse of what their desired future could look like if they would open this e-mail. Knowing your ‘buyer persona’ and build your business around that profile is crucial for this approach.

Be bold

This one comes with an even bolder disclaimer. You have to know your point of view on the matter or the company you’re writing for. If the brand’s tone of voice allows it it’s beneficial to be controversial (to a certain level). Today people don’t want cheesy, they want bold. Statements that they can relate to. It shows personality and therefore grows trust very fast. Do make sure you back up your bold statements with fact-checking. You can get in a lot of trouble by just writing bold statements for the sake of clickbait.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Give them an ultimatum

‘This discount is only applicable today’. This immediately gets to you right? You don’t even know what it’s for but you immediately feel you need to act. The fear of missing out is bigger than the human will, and you are about to make use of that. Creating some sense of urgency makes people antsy. They feel they need to act. So if you play your cards right you can make people feel they are missing out on something amazing when they won’t open your e-mail.

This has proven to be a very effective way to make your audience open your e-mail, but beware, you better do come up with something amazing otherwise your audience lose trust and your e-mail address gets marked as spam within seconds.

Go Dutch

Since I am Dutch I can make this ‘bold statement’: go Dutch and be as straightforward as humanly possible. In an e-mailbox that’s flooded, an e-mail that simply stated what it’s about can make all the difference. Sometimes being practical is like a breath of fresh air which will be rewarded.

Depending on the brand’s tone of voice, the audience and the content of the e-mail you can pick your headline approach or mix and match. However, the golden rule is to add value for the customer, all else is simply fine-tuning.

The things that make you forget what time it is are the things you should treasure. To me, that has always been a combination of writing and drawing.

I am specialised in employer branding campaigns, lifestyle, personal development, converting technical pieces into bitesize easy-to-read commercial content and I love a good old copy challenge. I thrive when my words propel your business to the next level, either in Dutch or English.

Besides writing for companies, I enjoy writing and illustrating for passion projects like opinion pieces for magazines, book reviews and (short) stories.

Need to step up your copy and/or illustration game? I’m your gal!


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Kristin Rose

Kristin Rose

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