The Un-Lumpy Packages Arrive!

Following on Tuesday’s post, Steal These 5 Direct-Mail Secrets, it seemed that all the world had an email offer to make me this week.

“Well, of course those packages aren’t lumpy, Kelly,” I hear you say.

True. But they could have been a lot lumpier.

Real email subject lines from this week, very slightly edited to protect the not-too-innocent:

It’s Here: Our Top Wines List for 2009 (from a shop)

Get My New Business Blogging Book*

What I can teach you about getting what you want

[Name of Blogger] Launches New….

Do you know about our big…

and my (least) fave…

Oh, yeah? Give me one good reason!

Note that these are not spam—these are from companies and authors I’ve given permission to contact me. Yet all would have gone instantly to my trash folder in any other week. They were so striking I kept them around to do this post, but I still wasn’t tempted to open them, even with them cluttering my inbox.

Why didn’t any of these get opened?

They’re all about the sender. Our, My, I.

This, folks, is Email Marketing 101. Direct-mail 101, too:

In the half-second it takes me to decide to open, or toss your carefully-crafted message in the trash, I don’t care about you. I care about me. If you can’t get the subject line right, I’m not sticking around to let you waste more of my time talking about you.

I put the blame for this self-centered copywriting squarely on the medium. Email is free (nearly), so too many people take too little time crafting a message that’s end-to-end awesome. Most of these folks were trading on their name in the “from” space, hoping that I’d click merely because of who the sender was.

Dudes, I’m busy. So’s a lot of your database. If your clickthrough rates are low, stop thinking your name is plenty of fabulousness and start putting some real effort into the copywriting.

If Tuesday’s post got you thinking about online variants of express mail and lumpy packages—start small. Very small. Put your customer front-and-center in those crucial five or six words she reads before she hits the delete button. The content of your email is no good if it never gets read.

How about some good examples? Gotten any emails lately with subject lines so Wow! you couldn’t wait to open them? Drop a comment and tell us how we can get through to you!


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

*To be fair, it turns out my email window cut off the rest of this one, which was “… with $10 off.” In this case, the cart needed to be put before the horse to have any chance at all. The subject line would still be talking about the wrong person, but my mercenary instincts might have kicked in.