The headline is arguably the most important piece of copy — possibly the single most important factor — in your marketing emails. In a crowded inbox, it is the first thing a reader sees, and will ultimately decide whether they open your email or send it to the trash.
The importance of any given headline might make drafting an effective one seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be challenging. In fact, all you must know are the three building blocks for every great headline: what a reader wants, when the reader wants it, and what action they need to take.
Every email should have value, so it’s critical to relay what benefits each message brings in the subject line. You can do so by using your building blocks to clearly state value. For example, let’s say you are launching late night delivery at your restaurant. Your building blocks might be:
- What does the reader want? Prepared food
- When does the reader want it? On demand
- What action does the reader need to take? Placing the order
- Satisfy your late night cravings with 24/7 delivery by placing your order online now
- Midnight snacks, any hour of the night, when you place your order online
When it comes to prospective customers, your primary goal might be to convince them to consider taking an action in the first place. In this instance, swap the third building block — the action item — with how simple it is to actually take the action.
Let’s say you’re emailing prospective patients of a new practice location. Your building blocks may be:
- What does the reader want? A doctor’s appointment
- When does the reader want it? As soon as possible
- What makes this so easy for the reader? Improved office location and efficiencies
- See Dr. Smith at our new location starting Monday, just off I-95!
- Now seeing new patients at our new and improved location on Monday — no appointment needed!
Why is this formula so effective? You are quickly providing your recipients with the most necessary information that demonstrates a direct benefit or positive outcome. Even though your email will be sent to hundreds or thousands of people, you’re still communicating to one person to tell them exactly what benefit you can offer and direct instructions on how they can take advantage.
If you’re facing writers block the next time you sit down to draft some headlines, consider this simple yet effective three-step approach to build engaging email copy that will catch a reader’s attention.
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