Thursday, 24 January 2013

What's in a (Newsletter) Headline?

As I've mentioned before, I produce a weekly newsletter which is made up of the most interesting articles I've found on the internet during the previous week - usually around 20 of them.  Of course, although all the people I send it to are on my mailing list, not all of them open the newsletter each week.  But what puzzles me is why some subject lines seem to work better than others.

Admittedly, some of the fluctuation in opening rates may be due to other factors - people being too busy to read it, or having received a large number of emails that day - but the subject line has got to be a major factor.  So I've been trying to see what it is that appeals to my readers.

The newsletters seem to fall into three groups . . . one in which a lot of people open it, one in which a moderate number open it, and one in which not many people open it.  But what puzzles me is the seeming crossover between the groups in the actual subject matter.

For example, "How to Succeed . . . and Other Useful Information" is my best scoring headline to date.  But "How to Get Your Internet Business Off to a Good Start in 2013!" had the lowest opening rate.  And yet, to me, the titles are not dissimilar.  Perhaps the fact that the second one came out soon after Christmas had something to do with it, but it certainly seems that "how to succeed" rang more bells than the more specific "get your business off to a good start".  So . . . lesson one, the use of the words 'succeed' and 'success' may influence someone to open an email.

In the 'low openers' group was "The power of Twitter & MySpace; Effective Marketing Strategies; Designing a Great Website . . . & more" which is the longest headline I've used.  Certainly it's way over the 55 characters which this article says is the most that one should have in a headline.  And perhaps that's lesson two.

As far as the subjects covered are concerned, "SEO" appears only in the top scorers, "Pinterest" in the top and middle groups, "Social media marketing" in the middle and bottom, and "Blogging" in all three.  Obviously, the subjects in the headline depend on the articles I've found that week.  And here it gets more puzzling.  I keep a record of the number of clicks on each article within the newsletter . . . and the high scorers don't tally with the seemingly high scoring subject lines . . . apart from articles on Pinterest.  "Pinterest For Business Has Arrived! 7 Reasons To Jump Onboard" was one of the most popular items so far, but other than that there seems to be no pattern.

So, what do I think I've learned from this analysis?  Perhaps the following:

  • 'success' or 'succeed' in a headline may induce people to open the email
  • headlines need to be short - long ones may be ignored
  • SEO and Pinterest seem to be subjects that people want to read about
  • writing headlines is not easy!
There's a lot of interesting stuff being produced online every week and I enjoy sharing what I find.  But am I getting the subject mix right?  Should I try to find more on SEO, I wonder?

So may I ask you, whether you subscribe to my newsletter or not, to leave a comment and let me know which subjects in particular would get you to open a newsletter . . . SEO, Pinterest, social media, marketing strategies, content marketing, affiliate marketing . . . or something else entirely.

And if you don't subscribe and would like to, you can sign up by clicking HERE

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