7 Tips for Better Subject Lines & Envelope Teasers

in Copywriting - Nonprofit,Direct Mail,Email,Marketing for Nonprofits

I read an article in Direct Marketing IQ last week that got me smiling. The author is a copywriter (Pat Friesen) and she mentioned how her love of math and creative writing are a good match.  They’re both valuable assets for direct response copywriting.

Boy … as an engineer can I ever relate to that. 

One of her comments was how she uses math to explain what she does (below is a quote from the article):

A subject line is a headline (a = b)

A headline is a teaser (b = c)

Therefore, a subject is a teaser (a = c)

The role of an email subject line, the headline of an article or press release, and direct mail teasers (e.g., teaser on the outside carrier envelope) are all essentially the same: Engage the reader and move them one step deeper into the copy.

Friesen went on to share seven tips for writing more effective email subject lines, headlines and teasers:

Numbers – Numbers catch our eye.  For example, did the “7” in my headline help catch your eye more than if I had left it off?  A calendar date, percentages, or any expression of a number will work.

News – The word “news” or also the word “new” not only attract people known as early adopters, but anyone interested in staying on top of what’s happening.

Narrative – Stories always work.  Can you write a headline or teaser that sounds like the first line of a great story?  Something readers will want to dig into to discover the rest of the story?

Exclusivity – We all like to feel special; like we qualify for something not available to everyone.  “Preferred seating at our concert for donors who’ve supported us for over 5 years.”

Questions – If possible, ask a question where the answer is more than a simple “yes” or “no.”  For subject lines and teasers readers (your donors and members) are more likely to open it to find the answer, or to verify they know the right answer.

Verbs – Action words are another good strategy.  As Friesen says, they “build a reader’s momentum.”

Urgency – A deadline tends to increase readership and response.

Those are GREAT tips to follow for more effective subject lines, headlines and direct mail teasers.  Below you’ll find more copywriting help for your emai and direct mail.

Related posts:

 How to write email subject lines

2 Fundamentals of a strong fundraising appeal

7 Guidelines for emails readers respond to

Make a connection – Generate a spark – Get a donation


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