Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Everyone's inbox is flooded with promos, newsletters and those forwards from their folks. There's one thing that can help your business break through the clutter and get your emails opened. Spoiler alert: It's the subject line.


Email...Seriously


Yes, seriously. Before we get into mastering the email subject line, let's make sure we remove all doubt when it comes to email marketing in general.


"Why email? We have social media after all. I can just post my 'stuff' on Facebook."


And you should.


But if you're not leveraging email to engage with prospects and customers, you're leaving money on the table.


Email outperforms all digital marketing channels, generating $38 for every $1 spent for a jaw-dropping 3,800% ROI (Hubspot)

Social media is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal but here's the thing, you don't own your social media audience. The platforms do. If Facebook or Instagram or INSERT SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM went down tomorrow, all those followers you worked so hard to get would be gone and you'd be starting from ground zero.


That's why building an email list is a must. It's a direct communication channel between you and your audience, unless of course they hit the 'delete' button or worse, 'unsubscribe'.





So what saves your email from the dreaded Trash folder? It's all in how you write it. And that starts with the very first decision someone makes: To open or not to open.


Deconstructing the email subject line


The next time you fire up your email program, pay attention to the emails you feel compelled to open. Unless they're from people you know, the emails that get that all-important click have a super effective subject line.


Here are a few examples of subject lines that have earned my click recently:


  • "Okay Jennifer. Here's the truth (LAST CHANCE)"

  • "Buy one, get nine"

  • "What NO other educators are telling you about making money"


So what do the subject lines above all have in common? They pique my curiosity. Let's take it a step further and break down what's working with each of them.


"Okay Jennifer. Here's the truth (LAST CHANCE)"

  • This one is personalized to me! I realize the sender doesn't really know me but personalizing emails boosts can boost open rates by as high as 50%! (OptinMonster)

  • The truth?! I need to know the truth. Guess I'll have to open the email to find out.

  • LAST CHANCE? Creates FOMO (fear of missing out). If this is my last chance, I won't get another chance so I had better open this.




"Buy one, get nine"

  • Now that's a short subject line. Clear and to the point.

  • It makes a too-good-to-be-true promise but doesn't give away the 'thing' I'm getting so I had better open this email to find out.

  • Buy 1, get 9?! Now we've all heard of Buy 1, Get 1 Free but...9?! Now THAT's different and exciting.


"What NO other educators are telling you about making money"

  • Once again, they're telling me 'something' juicy is inside but teasing me as to what that something is.

  • NO other educators? Sounds like exclusive information to me!

  • Who doesn't want to make money? I should note that the word 'money' is actually a money emoji. Did you know that using emojis in your subject lines can actually increase your open rates? A word of caution though: Use them carefully. Read The 2020 Definitive Guide to Using Emojis in Subject Lines

"Great examples. Now how I put this into practice for my business?"

Tips to write better email subject lines


Get inspired. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and...the quickest path to success. Now I'm not suggesting you do a copy/paste but I do recommend you start deconstructing the emails you receive (like I just did above). Find the patterns and follow the formulas.


Personalize it. Using the recipient's first name in the subject line will boost those open rates. But you can also send a special offer on a recipient's birthday, mention the last thing they purchased from you, etc.


Keep it short. Email marketing software provider MailChimp recommends 9 words and 60 characters. With most emails getting opened on mobile devices, you don't want your subject line to get cutoff. Less is more.


Use numbers. Which subject line would you be more likely to click?

  • Save big on TVs

  • Save 50% on the best flat screen TVs

Adding specifics like dates and numbers help to create excitement and trust around offers.


Have some fun. Try using an emoji or injecting some humour. Wondering if your attempts might fall flat? Most email marketing software platforms allow you to A/B split testing different email components like subject lines, headings and calls-to-action. Remember, the tone of voice you adopt should always be consistent with your brand and appeal to your target market.





The Last Word on the Subject (Line)


Crafting the ultimate email subject line is Step #1. Once you get your audience to open, there had better be a reason for them to read on and take action. Stay tuned to this space for more email best practices guaranteed to boost your bottom line.


Rather hand off your emails to an expert? Give me a shout.


Happy Emailing,

Jenn


Blogging…urghhh…As small business owners, it’s one of our least favourite marketing things. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Blogging works. Most of all because it helps your people find you on 'the Internets'. Here are 3 tips to make blog writing a little less painful and a whole lot more effective.

Before we get into the ‘how’, let’s talk about the ‘why’. Three little letters: S E O. For you newbies, SEO is search engine optimization. In a nutshell, it’s how Google determines where to send people looking for your products and services.

Businesses with a consistent blog strategy receive 2x more email traffic as those without. Plus, more than 55% of marketers say they’ve gained new customers just by blogging. (Oberlo)

Google LOVES fresh content and Google loves it even more when that content speaks directly to someone’s need. So if our boy Scott is searching for ‘custom engagement rings in Toronto’ and you have a blog post titled ‘Top 5 tips to buying custom engagement rings in Toronto’, chances are pretty good Google will show a snippet of your blog post in Scott's search results.


#1: Write what you know


“I have no clue what to write about Jenn.” Really? Really?! Sure you do! Sit down and make a list. Here, let’s do one together.

Topic: Child psychology

Blog post ideas

  • How to support your child’s mental health through the COVID-19 pandemic

  • 5 Tips on raising thoughtful teens

  • 3 signs you should seek professional help for your child’s mental health

  • Educational video games

  • Things to do outdoors with your child

I’m no child psychologist but I do have a child and these are certainly topics I, as a parent, am interested in learning about.

Whether you run a snow removal business, a local cafe or a women’s clothing store, you have knowledge to share. And that knowledge can be transformed into insightful blog posts that get you found, position you as an expert in your field and build trust with your audience.

#2: Use winning blog formulas

Want to know the one thing that will get more people to click on your posts? It’s the headline.


You’re welcome.


Expert copywriters (like me!) know that the key to getting traffic to your posts is the headline.



Have a look at the headlines from our little exercise above. It’s a fact: Blog headlines that start with How To’s, Why’s & (INSERT NUMBER) of Tips/Tricks, etc. get read more.


Let’s take the dull ‘Educational video games’ headline above as an example. A quick edit can guarantee way more hits. Top 5 Educational Video Games for Teens. See what I did there? I added a number (5) AND I also specified the audience, i.e.,Teens.

Once you get folks to click on a great headline, you had better be prepared to deliver some valuable content.

Do some additional research to bring new angles to popular subjects. Consider adding quotes from other experts that further hammer home your key points.

Using bullets and stats and quotes will make your blog post more scannable and easier to digest. And don’t forget the images!

Lastly, don’t skip out on completing the meta descriptions on your posts. This information is critical when it comes to having your posts indexed by search engines. ‘What’s that Jenn?’ Here’s what it looks like in my website editor.



Fill out those SEO settings

#3: Reuse and Recycle old blog posts

Wanna know the best thing about blog posts? They can be repurposed in so many ways. With the average blog post taking almost 4 hours to write, you want to get the most out of your efforts.

Take little snippets from your blog posts and convert them into social media posts. I could likely get a good 10 out of this one post alone!

I’ll also be condensing this into a synopsis which I plan to send to my email list. Maybe that’s where you came from today ;-).

Knowing you’ll be able to slice and dice a blog post into valuable little morsels will make the task of actually writing it more enjoyable.

A blog post can also be resurrected years later. As a matter of fact, my first job with a long-term client was to rewrite and refresh some of their old posts. I updated the tone, content and stats to work for ‘today’. Here's an example of one below:

Infusing a trendy tone into an old post results in more clicks.

If your business is stuck, blogging is one of those simple steps you can take to give your business a boost. But like any other marketing channel, you’ll need to be consistent if you want to see results. So carve out some time on a Sunday afternoon in between weekly meal prep and your favourite true crime podcast to get one written.

You should be aiming for one blog post a week. Even one a month is better than none a month.

If, after reading this, you’re convinced you need to give blogging another try but still have a case of the ‘I don’t wanna’s’, give me a shout. I’ll be happy to take on this chore for you.


Happy Blogging,

Jenn

Social media has given birth to the age of the consumer. A single voice now has such power to shape the opinions and influence the behaviours of thousands of friends and followers. But “with great power comes great responsibility”. And we really need to be more careful.

We’re Killing Small Business

We’re increasingly turning to our virtual friends for recommendations on everything from restaurants to reliable auto mechanics. And in turn, we’re more than happy to spread the word about our own experiences: the good, the bad and the downright nasty.

As a social media marketer, I see negative reviews on local businesses every day which are often followed by comments like, “Wow Amy, I’ll never shop THERE again.” “Thanks for letting us know.” “Sharing!” The negativity spreads like a virus. And it’s working. More often than not, the damage is done before the business owner even has a chance to respond.

Have you seen the story about the wedding photographer who was forced to close her business because a disgruntled customer unleashed a hate-filled online campaign against her? What about the boutique hotel in Ireland who received a scathing online review?



These stories are becoming increasingly common. With somewhere between 67 percent and 90 percent of consumers looking at a product’s reviews before they decide to make a purchase, reviews matter.

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

...Choose your words carefully. We all have a voice and that voice has been further magnified by social media. It’s wonderful that we’re able to help educate friends and fellow consumers based on our experiences but we need to understand the ramifications of our words. In fact, a single negative review can drive away approximately 22 percent of customers.

There’s a difference between writing an honest, well presented review about a business and just plain venting. Have a read through the following To Post or Not to Post Checklist to ensure you’re posting a review and not a defamation.


1. Have you calmed down? The ‘heat of the

moment’ is never a good time to write a review.

2. Did you make every attempt to rectify the situation offline?

3. Are your words helpful or hurtful?

4. Is your review factual?

5. Are you prepared for the repercussions?


#5, cont. On the plus side, your negative review could result in a change to business practices. On the downside, it could lead to lost revenue, a firing, or in the absolute worst case, the business closing.

Small businesses are fighting back

Whether it’s a witty tweet reply or a slow burn response to a TripAdvisor review, it’s clear that business owners no longer accept that the ‘customer is always right’. Especially when they’re wrong.

That wedding photographer mentioned above actually took the customer to court and was awarded $115 thousand in damages. An up & coming network marketing company is suing a number of individuals for operating websites and blogs that disparage the quality of their products.

Be Kind to One Another

Apply Ellen Degeneres’ advice to the virtual world. If you feel the need to write a negative review, try to make it constructive and lead with kindness. When you receive exceptional service, be just as passionate about posting a positive review. See a painful review on your favourite local business? Resist the urge to respond directly and instead counter with a kind word or two.

#SupportLocal doesn’t just mean shopping at your neighbourhood farmer’s market or family-owned shoe store. It takes more effort to ‘think twice and be nice’ than it does to troll behind the apparent safety of a screen. Before you click the ‘post’ button, understand that your words have an impact on real people, yourself included.

Feel free to share this article with your connections, especially those Keyboard Cowboys.

Positively yours, Jennifer

Jennifer Iannuzzi is a seasoned copywriter, content marketing expert and founder of ifixtext.com. She works with company founders to position their solutions for success.

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